123rd Street at Lexington Avenue, New York City
|The same spot in July 2018.|
As I point out in many of the comparisons in this series, the addition of trees during the intervening decades has dramatically improved the ambiance of ordinary streets like this. The stark angles and unforgiving sidewalks are softened by a touch of green.
The building itself has been altered. It appears to be completely residential now. Whereas the corner had a typical "candy store" and a diagonal front to accommodate foot traffic, that has been straightened with characterless severity. The ubiquitous cigaret and liquor ads on the wall behind the men at the table (a real corner hangout!) are gone, reflecting a general decrease throughout Manhattan in billboards of all types. However, the windows on the building behind them are the same forty years later, as is the fire escape. The no-parking pole on the right also remains there, though at some point in time someone has straightened it. Hey, that's progress, folks!
The most notable difference is the absence of the gritty building on the right. In its place are a couple of trees, and perhaps the people who live in the building now have a backyard. There seem to be fewer street-level businesses in the area, which may not necessarily be the greatest thing for the neighborhood. However, the absence of gritty and the ugly roll-down anti-theft shutters definitely is an improvement from an aesthetic point of view. The area definitely looks like less of a battle zone and more like a generic residential area. Considering the crime wave that accompanied the blackout that summer, however, those shutters may have saved the store owners a pretty penny.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this entry in my "The more things change, the more they stay the same" series. Please visit some of the other then-and-now comparisons!