The New Cityscape of Fear [via Salon]

With the 5th anniversary of 9/11 looming upon us, Salon has begun a series if articles reflecting on the changes that have overtaken the nation. Farhad Manjoo delineates the intense spatial change as the "Cityscape of Fear". Jersey Barriers, Bollards, and French Barriers-cum-Lousy Bikeracks are everywhere defending even the most unlikely of targets. Manjoo references Paul Goldberger's observation that in the past

" used to be able to walk around Manhattan, both on the sidewalks and through the lobbies of large buildings, without showing any credentials. Today that's nearly impossible because entering nearly every building requires passing through a security checkpoint. The checkpoint culture weighs on the soul, reminding us at every point that we live in a dangerous time, and that anyone we see might seek to do us harm."

Interestingly enough, the article points out that Jersey Barriers are actually the urban structural interventionist equivalent of plastic sheets and duck tape because

"The barriers, which were designed as lane separators by New Jersey's state Highway Authority in 1955, are intended to be placed on roads parallel to the direction in which cars are traveling. A vehicle that nudges too close to the barrier will ride up its tapered edge and slide back onto the road, suffering minimal damage. But placed the opposite way -- in front of a building to protect against oncoming attack -- a Jersey barrier is no match for a fast car or truck. In crash tests, speeding vehicles that hit the barriers at obtuse angles simply knock them over or vault over them straight at the target."

Given this revelation we must stop and consider how many extremely inconvenient security measures are simply in place to convey an appearance of protection, or perhaps more darkly, to circumvent traditional freedoms with greater control. After all, we are currently at war (no, not that one... and that one is technically our weapons, not our war). No the earlier war, the Long War, you know the war against the intangible act? Well, seeing the smashing success we had the LAST time we tried that we should redouble advocacy for intelligent safety solutions rather than half measures that compromise safety through false security while depriving us of the communal life we have more or less enjoyed for 230 years.

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