I've been thinking about Yvonne B's forlorn and ghostly shot of the corner of 17th Street and 10th Avenue in the 1980s. There's the abandoned High Line and a gritty little luncheonette, alone with a single-story garage. There are no people.
And here's my shot of the same corner today. The luncheonette is now a Comme des Garcons "concept store." The High Line is renovated and full of tourists enjoying the views from what they call "10th Avenue Square." The garage has been demolished for a luxury condo tower with an Equinox fitness center on the first floor.
The streets below are not unpopulated--there are a couple of people making cell-phone calls, two women pushing a shopping cart, and a Skyliner bus full of tourists.
The first scene brings to mind some lines from "Minority Report," a sort of love poem to America by John Updike:
But it is you,
really you I think of:
your nothing streetcorners
your ugly eateries
your dear barbarities and vacant lots
Updike could have been writing about New York City, in the late mid-century, amid the pleasures of urban decay. And I can't help but look at these two photos and wonder: What possible love poem could be written today about high-concept boutiques, high-tech gym goers, and High-Line tourists cramming the so-called 10th Avenue Square for a photo op?