Shocking Serendipity: Berlin in New York

Last week I entered a Midtown office building’s lobby merely for the sake of getting from 53th to 54th Street without walking up Madison Avenue at rush hour. In the middle of the lobby loomed a huge concrete panel covered with graffiti.  My eyebrows were diving into the scowl I save for pretentious trash masquerading as art when I saw the plaque.

Plaque in lobby of 520 Madison Ave., New York.

Plaque in lobby of 520 Madison Ave., New York.

Segments of the Berlin Wall at 520 Madison Ave., New York. Photo: Dianne L. Durante

Segments of the Berlin Wall at 520 Madison Ave., New York. Photo: Dianne L. Durante

As a historian, I’ve read countless stories of government oppression. I’ve never felt the evil as viscerally as I did standing next to those twelve-foot-high chunks of concerete.

If I’d been wearing a hat, I’d have taken it off.

More

The segment of the Wall above was from the side closest to West Berlin: if you made it through the “kill zone,” this is what you faced before reaching freedom. Diagram here.

The murders along the Wall are difficult to count because (as for atrocities in the USSR and Communist China) the authorities didn’t keep and publish records. See here and here.

Palate cleanser

Nearby Midtown skyscraper at 59th and Lexington / Third Avenue.

Bloomberg Building, 731 Lexington Avenue (between 58th and 59th). Photo (c) 2016 Dianne L. Durante

Bloomberg Building, 731 Lexington Avenue (between 58th and 59th). Photo (c) 2016 Dianne L. Durante

About Dianne L. Durante

I’m an independent scholar and freelance writer /lecturer on art and art history, with forays into food, history, politics, and publishing. My most recent projects are *Innovators in Sculpture¸* a survey of 5,000 years of art in two hours, and *Monuments of Manhattan,* a videoguide app by Guides Who Know that’s based on my book *Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan: A Historical Guide.*

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