The most interesting cities in the world are the ones that are home to artifacts of the past that are found nowhere else. Cambridge houses The Eagle Pub where Watson and Crick discussed their findings on DNA, Barcelona is home to La Sagrada Familia which was designed by a Spanish architectural genius, and Split boasts the ancient Roman ruins of a fallen empire. Without these unique structures and the history supporting them which has attracted people from all over the world, these cities would not have the character which defines them. It is for these reasons that I am so upset to hear that some attractions which rival those before mentioned are being removed for the sake of apartments, hotels, and shopping malls, the like of which can be found anywhere and add nothing to the cultural significance of an historical place.
Continuing to visit these attractions will help keep them where they are.
The most prominent relic of the past which has suffered recently from the interests of those wishing to profit from the land it currently resides on is the East Side Gallery in Berlin. As part of the Berlin wall, the East Side Gallery stands as a colorful, art strewn reminder and remnant of Berlin’s past. On March 1, 2013 a crane removed twenty-two meters of the wall in plans for the development and building of luxury high-rise apartments. While it is argued that the developer had rights to remove the section of the wall, the people of Berlin and around the world disagree, arguing that as an integral piece of Berlin’s history no one should be able to change the wall in any way let alone remove it. Even graffiti over the original art on the wall is scorned in Berlin, a city embalmed in street art.
An even more current and controversial example is Istanbul, another city that is actively rebelling against attempts to replace a timeless landmark with a commonplace structure: a shopping mall. While the protests are more than just about the shopping mall, it is a strong message to governments worldwide that to destroy the personality of a place is to threaten the identity of its people. The importance of these protests is in the government’s regard for what the people want, and after ignoring their opinions and what they wish for their own city and country, the people are speaking out. People clearly want an identity that they can tie with where they are from for it makes them unique and independent.
It is ironic to think that people’s cultures are being threatened by their own governments and carried out with the thought that with new developments in the shape of apartments and hotels the country will profit more. Though the revenue brought in from special landmarks cannot always be calculated (the East Side Gallery does not have ticket sales, nor do parks), it is these unique attractions that are the reason people visit these cities. While it was a consistent part of history to tear down cities as they were conquered, in the past century it has been recognized that to preserve what we can of past societies is to benefit all. Remnants of the past are our bond to history’s lessons and are integral to the character of our current day society.
Continuing to visit these attractions will help keep them where they are. Insisting on seeing what makes a place special as opposed to the structures that are replicated and dotted all over the world will reinforce their importance and their integral role in defining that place. Short of standing in front of a bulldozer threatening to tear down a landmark, showing your interest makes a difference. Support the landmarks that are singular to a place and you support the reason why people travel, to experience the individuality of each place.
Yayımlandı, Tarihinde. ¨What is Happening in Istanbul?¨ Insalik Hali. 1 June 2013. Web. 3 June 2013. http://defnesumanblogs.com/2013/06/01/what-is-happenning-in-istanbul/
Arango, Tim ¨Protests in Turkey Reveal a Larger Fight Over Identity,¨ the New York Times 3 June 2013. Web. 3 June 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/03/world/europe/development-spurs-larger-fight-over-turkish-identity.html