In Amsterdam, the old city (where tourists frequent) is almost all original. There are some changes here and there, but the homes along the canals are all intact and maintained beautifully. Cars aren't permitted on most of the streets in the city center, and this allows people on bicycles and on foot the right of way, and it's a solution to keeping the narrow streets clear. I like that.. instead of changing the landscape for cars and commuter traffic, close the streets. Here you see beautiful Dutch girls on bikes with bunches of fresh flowers in their baskets. Amsterdam is a romantic and lovely place.
In Barcelona there are some newer buildings, but many of them follow the design trends of the older ones. There's amazing mosaic tile work in the city, covered markets, and a bit more traffic. There are plenty of pedestrian only streets and a lot of people ride scooters. The city is magical, and it reflects an exciting time in architecture with the Antoni Gaudi buildings, bright colors, the Sagrada Familla... you feel the culture of the Spanish in their city.
In Paris, on the other hand, Napoleon had a vision, and that was to change the landscape of the city so that it could grow. He wanted huge boulevards, higher, bigger buildings, and landmarks throughout the city. Because of this transformation, the city can handle traffic today. However, many of the buildings are still old and original, the fountains are maintained beautifully, the Place de la Concorde is still there, but with cars passing through it, past the Arch de Triumph, the Eiffel Tower, the obelisk... Paris speaks of an old world, slow to change, but one of glamour and class. It's a regal city rich with history and beauty. Many people think Paris is the most romantic city...
So what's my point? My point is that these cities are so
beautiful, breathtaking even, they end up on posters, in calendars, they steal people's hearts. At one time, our city, one with great history; the Big Apple used to be magnificent and beautiful like these European cities. Today, many of the beautiful buildings and squares that made this city have been destroyed to make way for cars, big glass skyscrapers, huge ugly stores, and a train station that's embarrassingly hideous. Here is Union Square... think of that huge DSW building that sits there now...
America's obsession with being the glitziest, the richest, and the most fabulous has seriously marred the face of this city and what it could have been. A real opportunity for a city in America to exhibit significant styles in architecture... people from all over the world could come here and be in awe of our Singer building, of our breathtaking Pennsylvania Station with arched steel and glass ceilings... I feel sad to think that this city could be as old and beautiful and rich with history as any other.. had we not have destroyed it all in the name of consumerism and modernization. It's completely possible to take some buildings down for new ones... it's possible to have an old city center with high rises in special areas.
Another piece of history that we no longer see is the above ground subway line, the EL that ran up 6th ave right through Herald Square. At one time, there were many of these lines throughout NYC, Brooklyn, and Queens. We still see them in some areas of Queens, Brooklyn, and up in Harlem, but they used to run through the city, as well as trolleys. Imagine if we still had trams in the city? They could be environmentally friendly and provide New Yorker's with yet another option for getting around. But instead, we place all of our emphasis on cars having the main priority here, and that, I think is a huge problem.
Here's Penn Station again, the main concourse.
What do I observe from writing this, that NYC represents America. That's our culture, making money and spending money.. big corporations, corporate apartments, and greed. Don't get me wrong, when I look at our skyline at night it's beautiful, but I think it could have been something else.