I know my friends in Europe will fall over laughing and condescendingly pat me on the head, but I’ve always thought of Boston as a city that respects the old while building the new. After all, how many cities have the “Old City Hall” built in the 18th century next to a towering skyscraper?
Granted, that’s nothing when you consider the remnants of the original Roman wall to the city of Londinium next to the Tower of London next to modern skyscrapers in modern London, but for the US, it’s pretty damn good.
Something that still causes culture shock/disorientation in Singapore is when buildings that are 20 years old are disdainfully called “old.” I was reminded of this yesterday as I was reading a new (to me) blog called “Mr. Brown.” Mr. Brown also writes a column on the local CNN site, and I found myself laughing at his satirical commentary about Singapore, 30 years from now…
While we were away, a friend blogger posted pictures of the “new” mall in Singapore, “Nex”
. My amused/eye roll comment was something to the effect of “really? ANOTHER mall? Was there 10 feet without retail space on a sidewalk?” (For the record, if you want to see gorgeous photography of daily life and food in Singapore, you should add Tiny Island
to your feed-reader).
Either just before we left for the US or while we were gone, a friend told me that her building (a whopping 20-30 years old) was scheduled for demolishment, and at some point she’ll need to move. From the apartment she just moved into less than a year ago.
Elanor’s room was moved while we were gone because of the constant construction noise from next door (which saved us rent costs but may be costing me sanity and is certainly costing me sleep).
What perhaps makes Singapore less interested in its past is that in such a small confined space, nostalgia is one thing this wealthy nation can’t afford. But as a historian, I smile sadly each time I walk past some of the only surviving Peranaken buildings…sitting as they do, across from several gleaming new malls, I feel as though it’s only a matter of time before they’re ripped down in favor of something like a mall.
I also find it paradoxical that in a nation where the population can be shown as an inverted pyramid, with a very small young population and a very large elderly population (and in a region of the world where older people are generally treated with reverence) that things that are “old” are of little to no interest.
Personally, I think in Singapore in 30 years there will underground “link” malls from every condo to the nearest mall…which will be next door.