Lots to lament and deplore in this series of pictures showing various storefronts around Manhattan as they were ten years ago and as they are now, especially in the lower sets of photographs which are records of decline and decay and not gentrification. But up higher it’s not all lamentable and deplorable. It’s a good thing when failing and failed businesses are replaced with going concerns, even if the going concern is a Subway franchise. But of course it’s not good when a going concern makes way for nothing in the way of an improvement because the rent’s gotten too damn high or the changes in the neighborhood have driven away the clientele. I don’t get down to the city often enough to see what’s going on for myself. My sentimental bias has me thinking the world needs more bars like McHale’s than restaurants like Satya, but I never drank at the one and haven’t eaten at the other, so what do I know?
What got me in this one and in others and something I’ve noticed on some blocks when I’ve walked around is the disappearance of red brick and its replacement by metal---steel, aluminum, chrome---all of it with the shine, welcoming warmth, and visual appeal of polished tin.
I don’t know what the architects are thinking. I imagine the business owners are thinking, Just give me something that’s easy to hose down. But it appears as if the architects think people want to live, work, and play in an environment with a minimum of visual and tactile interest and a maximum of sterility and self-containment, as if sealed in against germs and spoilage. That is, inside a can.
It’s an aesthetic for Cylons not human beings.
Hat tip to Dave Sikula.