The buildings and monuments of New York, source of civic pride. By François Dischamps

Morning after New York (2011) by Nick Walker

NYC architecture

American graphic novelist Will Eisner, who lived in New York, wrote in The Building that New York’s constructions have “a soul”. He believes that every building of New York has stories to tell about the people who lived in them. In a city such as New York, where culture heritage is omnipresent, it seems a fair comment.

Will Eisner is not the only one who thinks this, many other New Yorkers are conscious that their architectural heritage is very rich. New Yorkers are particularly proud of their skyscrapers, and especially of the Empire State Building which is an architectural masterpiece and probably one of the finest Art Deco buildings ever made.

They were proud too of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, symbol of America’s economic might. When it was blown to smithereens in 9/11, New Yorkers were traumatized. Ground Zero became a symbol of their loss.

And New Yorkers have plenty of other reasons to be proud of their architectural heritage. The Guggenheim is one such reason. Designed by the famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, it is one of the most astonishingly beautiful museums in the world. It attracts 2.8 million visitors each year and 82% of them are Americans, proof of their interest in their own landmarks.

New York City preserves well its unique historic buildings, be they prestigious or more humble; the New York City Center and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum are just two examples of this. The inhabitants are generous when it comes to keeping old buildings standing or giving them a new lease of life.

New York City is also concerned about improving the lifestyle of its inhabitants and keeping the identity of the “city that never sleeps” alive. New Yorkers have helped to achieve this, the best proof being the successful transformation of New York’s High line into a very popular oasis for pedestrians. Some New Yorkers however think that it has changed New York’s familiar landscape too much and altered the spirit of the Big Apple...

New York is known for being an energetic city, attractive for tourists, successful economically. New Yorkers are proud to be living in one of the most powerful cities of the world and want to keep it that way. The protests against parts of Time Square being shut to traffic could be seen as reactionary, but also as an expression of some people's preference for keeping the City intact… Protesters said that Time Square would lose its 70s seediness, some of its chaotic energy if cars were excluded! This shows that New Yorkers are really attached to certain areas of the city and they don’t all necessarily want change. They want New York to keep its identity, to stay the way they know it.

New Yorkers are proud of their city and we can understand why. They show the importance they give to their cultural heritage by actively preserving it for themselves and for future generations.

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