Destruction of the old

16 Jun

One of my usual walks with Mylo is through the courtyard of a turn-of-the-last-century house. Many of the old houses have closed the access because the people walking through have abused the privilege by being especially loud, stealing bikes chained to the railings, or using the space as an open-air toilet. I have always been grateful that we are allowed to walk through this courtyard and experience this very private part of Vienna, right down to the abandoned concierge’s quarters–tiny and without any windows directly to the outside but with a protruding, glassed-in front entrance where the Portier could sit and keep an eye on what was going on. Seeing that always makes me think of Hans Moser films and Eva Ibbotson novels set in Vienna.

My distress was all the greater then to see the destruction of the railing on one side by what seemed to be some incompetent tree work.

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Then, being the suspicious person I am,  I started to wonder if the damage wasn’t intentional. In Vienna it has been known to happen that historical houses protected by law from being razed are mysteriously damaged beyond repair by bulldozers incompetently driven into them at odd hours of the night. This frees up the land for a modern block of apartments, which is often quicker and cheaper to build than the restoration of an old house.

Along the same principle, I wonder if the massive tree branches weren’t allowed to fall accidentally on purpose on the railings so that the owners of the house could put in simple, cheaper railings as they have already done on the other side.

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Of course, it’s easy for me to criticize. I don’t have to pay for the restoration of the railings. It still makes me sad, though, to see the replacement of the beautifully wrought old railings with the completely generic new ones.

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