An impressive urban skyline — made possible by commerce — is probably the most emphatic rebuke that can be delivered to people overly in love with nature, government projects, or imagined spiritual realms. Of course, you can argue about dialectics or metaphysics until the cows come home (presumably to a rural area like the ones that existed in the middle of Manhattan a mere century and a half ago — unless you’re opposed to cow-raising altogether, but we’ll argue about that at Lolita Bar on May 6). There’s little you can say, though, to rationalize away the difference between jet-black, impoverished North Korea at night and the glittering, ultramodern lights of South Korea nearby.
Just look at the photo survey of the world’s most impressive skylines that ForbesTraveler.com recently posted — most of them, unsurprisingly, in (relative) free-market bastions, in a world where anti-capitalism and thus poverty are still the norm, especially in the southern hemisphere.
And as one of the many intelligent speakers at the (sadly but predictably maligned) New York City Tea Party this past Wednesday said, NYC should be the ultimate testament to capitalism, not a place burdened by mounting taxes and public mismanagement. The Tea Party sprawled for blocks but was focused on the park to the south of City Hall, a tiny, roughly triangular area on the southern tip of Manhattan that sits between government (City Hall), commerce (in the form of Wall Street), and what should be a locus of even-more-global commerce (the World Trade Center site) but is now reportedly scheduled not to be completely built up again until 2030.
That’s disgraceful — though it’s not solely the infamous bureaucracy of the site’s complex public-private partnership that is causing the new, more long-term delay, supposedly, but also the expected time necessary for the real estate market (and thus rental prices at the site) to bounce back from the financial crisis, which is also pathetic and sad, albeit in a slightly more complex way.
I said a few years ago in Reason that I wish the site were already restored, privately, perhaps with a jaunty neo-Art Deco flair instead of a mournful or overly modern look, not that I’m picky. I would just prefer not to have to say the terrorists damaged the world’s best skyline and kept it that way for a third of a century. (Nonetheless, I’ll entertain myself by seeing New York get blown up in Watchmen a fourth time tonight at the 7:10 Union Square show.)