13 May 2010

Intersection of Forced Shopping

I was about to cross the intersection of Lexington and 58th when I was suddenly transfixed by the towering horror of 731 Lexington. Couldn't stop looking at it. I've passed by this humorless tower of glass hundreds of times, but I never really realized until that moment how absolutely awful the building was. Maybe it was the way it impudently glowed in the twilight. An unending, graceless pile of climbing glass, with its lower, retail floors walled in clear panes, forcing us to the see the innards of every corporate, chain store inside.

Then I looked around and realized that 731 Lex set the tone for the whole intersection. Across the street, New York & Company (and Zales) were equally clothed in transparent glass. I've never gone inside that place, but I feel as though I have.

Similarly, at the Steve Madden shoe store kitty-corner to 73 Lex, there was absolutely no opacity to the walls. It's enervating. Must I be inside awful stores even when I'm outside them? Does walking down the sidewalk mean I have to be quasi-shopping all the time? (The fourth corner was taken up by the mausoleum-like Victoria's Secret, which you can't see through, but had walls just as shiny.) Got to avoid this intersection in the future


Ed said...

I live near here, and recently changed my commute so when I go home, its by the limited bus that comes up First Avenue. I then walk east to my apartment, avoiding the mess on Lexington Avenue.

Its not perfect, because unfortunately the Second Avenue limited bus always sits in traffic around the Midtown Tunnel for fifteen minutes, so its not a viable commute if I get up early. I'm looking into the feasibility of biking it (the problem is the auto traffic around these blocks is the worst in the city, its dangerous even to cross the street as a pedestrian).

Anyway, the point is just changing my commute going home, forget going to work, has had a measurable impact in alleviating stress for me. These are really horrible buildings to pass every day and I didn't even realize it.

will hauff said...

I admit many of these modern buildings have been getting on my nerves these days--and I admit it is my fault that I get almost no pleasure from them. A major problem with them is that they do not age. They get scruffy around the edges as they rust and deteriorate but unlike buildings made of more natural materials they never improve with age. Brick --to my Romantic eyes--gets more interesting as it ages, and so does stone, and paint peeling off wood is, frankly, very exciting.