Tuesday, September 25

This Wouldn't Happen Now

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What's changed in America? Here's Lancaster's City Hall. Built at the turn of the Twentieth Century it was so blatant in its optimism and celebration of the future. Look at the resources that went into this public art.

It could not be built today. Abrasive critics would tear off every ornament. They'd resist materials and textures that reflected any ambition on the part of designer or town leaders. It's difficult to get the dollars to maintain structures like these. What's happened? Where has the willingness of citizens to contribute to civic pride gone? Now every public dollar seems drawn into some consumption demand. Now we need to create governments which don't so much celebrate our pride as they redistribute our wealth.

When this building went up, governments reflected a public joy, now they seem to speak only for the crankiest n public. What's changed in America?

2 comments:

Emery said...

Peter Egan, the great automotive writer, commented on this phenomenon some years ago, and his one-sentence summary resonated so loudly that I still remember it: "Then we cared, now we don't."

-- Emery

Ted Byrne said...

(Emery) Then government proclaimed our optimism. Now it trumpets our cynicsim. I wonder if we ever passed through skepticism?