I walk up to work every day either straight up Fifth Avenue or via Broadway and then switch over to 6th Avenue at West 34th Street. If I take the latter route, I find myself walking by Bryant Park as I approach West 42nd Street. For the past couple of months, the Park has had placards on its fence celebrating it's 20th Anniversary. I find that rather confusing, honestly, as surely Bryant Park is older than that, but whatever. In any case, up there on that fence, they have photographs from various incarnations of the Park over the years, and the one above always captivates me as I walk by.
So many people -- myself included -- are keen to look back and wax rhapsodic about how cool and gritty New York City was in decades past. For the most part, I completely stand by that: New York City was a genuinely far more interesting place in, say, 1982 or 1992 that it is now in 2012. That's just a fact. That said, I still find the picture above so completely shocking. In much the same way Bethesda Fountain in Central Park went through a period of disrepair (itself slathered in graffiti but a decade earlier), I find it hard to reconcile how even the statuary at Bryant Park was brazenly subject to this treatment. To stroll through Bryant Park now, you'd never know it had once fallen into such a state.
To peruse more of Bryant Park's history, check out their Flickr page from whence the photo above comes.