The Six-Foot View of the New World Trade Center

In the end, the skyline of Manhattan enlists only a small emotional corner of my brain. Lauding it reminds me too much of city folks in the country saying, “Look at the cows!” Of course. The buildings, like the cows, could be said to symbolize their environment. More important to me in the city, however, is not the long-distance view, but the six-foot view. And I see little evidence this has been considered in the proposals for replacing the World Trade Center. The six-foot view is this: When you stand a body’s length from the skin of the building, what do you see? What is happening at the street level? Are there windows to peer in? Are there newsstands? Benches? Bike racks? Can five tourists walk abreast and still leave room for accelerated New Yorkers watching their Bostonians? Are there shops visible from the street—local shops, preferably, even those which appear to be part of chains but are only clever one-offs? Have piss corners been avoided? Piss corners: you know, those uncomfortable places where the grand fa

Posted January 17, 2003

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