Photo by Derek Berg
Inspirational signage — "The Future of the World Is in This School" — was spotted by the dumpster this morning on Second Avenue ...
"[T]he Ford Foundation asked architect Paul Rudolph to envision an urban expressway that was better integrated into the city. Rudolph drew a futuristic city with soaring, Space Invader-esque residential towers around the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges. The highway would wind beneath a linear city, and modular housing units would be connected by a pod-like monorail system."
In New York some signs of that future are obvious: fewer cars, less traffic, less of the old busy hum of the economic beehive. New York will, literally, get dimmer. Its magical bright-light nighttime skyline will glitter less as fewer companies inhabit the skyscrapers and put on the lights that make the city glow.
A prediction: By 2010 the mayor, in a variation on broken-window theory, will quietly enact a bright-light theory, demanding that developers leave the lights on whether there are tenants in the buildings or not, lest the world stand on a rise in New Jersey and get the impression no one's here and nobody cares.
The New York of the years 1750 to 2008 — a city that existed for money and for all the arts and delights and beauties money brings — is for the first time going to struggle with questions about its reason for being. This will cause profound dislocations. For a good while the young will continue to flock in, for cheaper rents. Artists will still want to gather with artists — you cannot pick up the Metropolitan Museum and put it in Alma, Mich. But there will be a certain diminution in the assumption of superiority on which New York has long run, and been allowed, by America, to run.