Wednesday, September 12, 2007


They are vanishing, turning into ticky-tacky boxes, according to this article from the Times City Room: "The common city newsstand, a bit of ungainly but plainspoken street furniture largely unchanged from the days of Berenice Abbott, has begun to give way to a sleeker version — arguably far more handsome and certainly far more corporate."

Handsome and corporate. We should ask much, much more from our city. Or else all we will continue to get is this constant attack on our eclectic, vibrant, urban "hodgepodge of unattractive things" (as Bloomberg calls our streets).

Many of these newsstands have stood for years, passed down through generations of vendors. But big business rules and you can't win the fight against City Hall. Or can you?

These words, from Jackie Kennedy Onassis, were spoken in response to a (thankfully defeated) plan to demolish Grand Central years ago. They still hold true today:

"Is it not cruel to let our city die by degrees, stripped of all her proud monuments, until there will be nothing left of all her history and beauty to inspire our children? If they are not inspired by the past of our city, where will they find the strength to fight for her future? Americans care about their past, but for short term gain they ignore it and tear down everything that matters.... this is the time to take a stand, to reverse the tide, so that we won't all end up in a uniform world of steel and glass boxes."


Anonymous said...

I can't believe the company hired to replace these boxes is called "Grimshaw Architects" - it sounds positively Dickensian. That Jackie O quote should be plastered on every high rise scaffold in the city.

Anonymous said...

This is absolutely disgusting. Another example of government taking over private property in the name of "improvement" - it's basically eminent domain in another form, right? Further disempowering the lowest on the totem pole. Personally, I love the ragtag booth at Astor Place - just the fact that it's a mess makes the area human. This is a spot where riots took place! Is it even still there?

Bob said...

I am delighted that you published Mrs. O's quote---it is very strong and meaningful. The question is,what do we do (or what can we do) about making it work? This city government totally has no feeling for her vision--aside from making sure that someone like Bloomberg, who has never in his adult life felt responsable to the public, is never elected again---how do we get the message accross and get people involved. The average person I talk to, feels the money pinch (caused by greater rents on commercial property) but can't connect the dots. What is to be done?

Jeremiah Moss said...

i believe it's due to our culture of narcissism. people want to live in uniform boxes today. the trouble with narcissists is they don't believe they have a problem, so they don't seek help. and, sadly, psychoanalysis, the solution for their problem, is also vanishing from our city.