Vol. 37: Is Imbalance the Source of New Yorkfs Vitality?

A pretty girl wearing a party dress walks down the street holding hands with a Hispanic youth in jeans and T-shirt. Beggars make their way between shiny limousines. A group of Afro-Americans wind their way through the crowded street with a ghetto-blaster on at full volume. New York is an ethnic melting pot, a city where poverty and riches exist side by side. Everyone respects one anotherfs individuality, and anything goes. This freedom is the source of New Yorkfs energy.

In the center of Manhattan I was surprised to see a photographic session under way. A handmade gondola made from an aluminum ladder and pipes was being suspended by means of cloth ropes and operated with a pulley. The workmen were working without wearing helmets and with nothing to protect themselves or anyone down in the street, for that matter. In this land where litigation reigns supreme, I began to feel concerned myself about what would happen if an accident occurred.

My image of construction work involving signs in the United States had been of signboards manufactured in enormous factories being conveyed to the installation site on a large trailer and then being erected in a single operation using a crane truck and a bucket elevator. But this isnft necessarily the way things are done. Looking at this extraordinary site that seemed to have somehow escaped from the distant past, I reflected on whether or not there were any municipal byelaws governing safety regulations while at the same time wondering whether this was not in fact the secret of Americafs vitality.

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