Shadow Cities | by André Aciman | The New York Review of Books

On a late spring morning almost two years ago, while walking on Broadway, I suddenly noticed that something terrible had happened to Straus Park. The small park, located just where Broadway intersects West End Avenue on West 106th Street, was being fenced off. A group of workers, wearing orange reflector shins, were manning all kinds of equipment, and next to what must have been some sort of portable comfort station was a large electrical generator. Straus Park was being dismantled, demolished.

Not that Straus Park was such a wonderful place to begin with. Its wooden benches were dirty, rotting, and perennially littered with pigeon droppings. You’d think twice before sitting, and if you did sit you’d want to leave immediately. It too had become a favorite hangout for the homeless, the drunk, and the addict. Over the years the old cobblestone pavement had turned into an undulating terrain of dents and bulges, mostly cracked, with missing pieces sporadically replaced by tar or cement, the whole thing blanketed by a deep, drab, dirty gray. Finally, the emptied basin of what used to be a fountain had turned into something resembling a septic sandbox. Unlike the fountains of Rome, this one, like the park itself, was a down-and-out affair. Never a drop. The fountain had been turned off decades ago.
— Read on www.nybooks.com/articles/1997/12/18/shadow-cities/