By Art Stamford
I’ll take a walk on Broadway, walk real slow,
no place particular I want to go.
Seeing lots of signs for retail space,
Broadway’s no longer the same old place.
Past the vacant Metro with its Art Deco facade –
is its promised rebirth a cruel charade?
West Side Camera once occupied this spot,
now a big bank, like it or not.
No problem banking on Broadway today,
but lots of small businesses have moved away.
Clothing stores, toy stores seem to have vanished –
even Laytner’s Linen has now been banished.
And scaffolding everywhere up and down the way:
Local Law 11 has more than won the day.
What’s that I hear? The optimistic view:
“Things always change, no matter what you do.
And it’s not all bad – some things improve –
things we didn’t like have also had to move.
No more working girls where Party Cake stood
and OTB’s long gone from our neighborhood.
And don’t complain too much about sidewalk sheds –
after all, they guard our fragile little heads.
And it’s not hard to shop, you must concede:
Amazon supplies all you’ll ever need.”
Not sure I buy that point of view:
is the Broadway I liked done with and through?
There outside Zabar’s I see a great debate,
good government types toying with our fate:
“We need a plan that’s robust and holistic –
let’s make the sheds tasteful and artistic.”
“But they’ll still just be dark creepy places –
we want well-lit, wide-open spaces.”
“Whatever we do, we’ve got to preserve it –
It’s our heritage – our children deserve it.”
“I’m an economist and this is what I say:
overcharging landlords have had their day.”
“Close down the smoke shops – before they spread.”
“Let’s boycott Amazon – buy local instead.”
Seems things are shaping up the same old way –
no real plan, just benign disarray.
Maybe Gray’s Papaya will give me a lift –
tired of seeing everything adrift.
Linger in Gray’s longer than I ought,
consoling myself with this single thought:
Broadway’s pulled through more than one travail
since its days as the Wickquasgeck Trail.
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And read Art Stamford’s poem about the perils of preservation here.