Sunday, November 16, 2014


Last night a friend gave me a ride home from a great poetry reading (see two posts back) and dinner with old and dear friends (as well as a few new) afterwards, and as we drove down West Broadway in Soho—my old neighborhood (in the 1970s)—there was the new "Freedom Tower" aglow in the near distance (that contradiction is the only way to describe its visual impact) and I couldn't help observing that it made me feel like I was in Dallas, or on a highway heading to an underpass or beltway around some smaller Southern or Midwestern city with a couple of skyscrapers (no offense to Dallas or any other city, but they ain't New York).

It may look a little more original in daylight with its curved facade of nothing but glass windows, but at night, when those curves don't really declare themselves and all there is is that needle tower and antenna on top of a squat lit up block, it made me miss the Twin Towers and their simplistically unoriginal but nonetheless iconic double and slimmer straight-edged shapes.

I don't mean to be unpatriotic or insensitive to what the new building represents, but to be the highest building in the Western hemisphere (though the extended length of the antenna makes the whole building look more like a structure at the end of an airport runway) and be as ugly in its nighttime appearance (and after taking over a decade to even complete) is, well, not a mark of New York's importance but rather it seems to me a sign of its (hopefully temporary) decline (no matter how many more wealthy people populate it now, or because of)... sure doesn't, to my mind, look like it's the highlight (let alone high point) of the cityscape of a world-class city, let alone one that often purports to be the world's most important city. And it doesn't say much culturally either. That's my take at any rate.

No comments: