Thursday, August 13, 2020

The Final Solution: Rush Hour

Pick some rush hour morning out of your memory. You arise from an uptown 6 exiting at Grand Central and walk across the concourse with its iconic information kiosk facing the lines of ticket windows above which the arrivals and departing schedules of trains to White Plains, New Haven, Hartford and Boston have perennially been listed. Perhaps think way back to the era when Kodachrome dominated the floor. In the days before the pandemic you climbed the stairs to Vanderbilt Avenue passing the Cipriani café, finding yourself swept out into midtown with its caverns of skyscrapers. Hard to image that the place which was once the center of the world is now an empty hulk with huge spires virtually emptied. The city has become a futuristic thriller. Just come out of the Viaduct any morning onto the deserted vista of Park Avenue with its iconic center islands. You've probably never cruised through empty midtown streets like this ever before. Manhattan has always been a 24-hour city and even in the wee hours before dawn there was generally a considerable night population to contend with. Today the buildings whose expensive naming rights were picked up by JP Morgan or Lever have been emptied of life. Long time inhabitants and lovers of the city, who may have vacated at the height of the outbreak, return to find a shell and ask themselves what is there to stay for in the once vibrant city, whose museums, galleries and theaters have all been shuttered?

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