SL 050828 EVOLUTION – "Times Building" by Byron Co.

During the first years she was unremarkable, like any other weather-worn space of land where glacier erratics mixed with mismatched bits of local rock and sand. Then animals crawled out of the ocean on four legs and later on two. Their wanderings packed the soil into a hunter-gathering route that gradually curved along her eastern side. She began to sense herself to be apart.

More men arrived, less kind to each other and to the land. They took seriously a strange arranging and rearranging of sticks and stones. Their paths were cut straight from point to point separated by repeating dimensions that created so many hunting paths every piece of land was separated by spinning carriage wheels. She became an isolated triangular island of weeds marking the bottom margin of a dusty emptiness these men named Longacre Square.

Someone now claimed he owned her and then he sold her as if she were a whore gone hand to hand. She despaired but remained unbroken until they dug into her deeper and deeper and eventually carted off her heart to fill a swamp. In the void they built a subway station, an elevator shaft, and layer upon layer of rooms with windows that looked upon clogged traffic.

It puzzled her how she remained even though the space that had once held her body was now filled with some other creature’s steel and terra cotta bulk. When neon signs began to pock the surface of that building the men called it progress. When its glorious neo-Renaissance face was lifted and replaced with a tin-can sheath no one seemed to notice.

The less substantial she became, the more she was swarmed by thousands, millions of people. And on the last day of every year they pack the streets for blocks and blocks until everyone cheers when a crystal ball fall from the heights and kisses her long-eradicated face.

Now they argue over replacing the building (which is really just a scaffolding to hold up the lights) with a bigger scaffolding to hold more lights but she has come to understand that she is no more a piece of land, or a building, or a party without end than Times Square is really a square.

She began as dust in a new universe and then became part of a growing planet that has been invaded, ruined, and worshiped by humans. Only serendipity has determined that during this small beat of astrological expansion she is at the center of their world – the place where over and over their time ends before it begins.

 “Times Square Building” photographed by Byron Co. in 1904
Museum of the City of New York, New York City, NY USA