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