2/02/2010

Everyday Oddities -- Public safety + T.Rex

Today my idle wanderings around Seattle took me to Volunteer Park, where I climbed up a strange water tower housed inside what looks like a castle turret made of brick. I banged on the tank inside and was pleasantly surprised that my soft little fist could have any effect on a four-stories-tall tank of inches-thick steel filled with thousands of gallons of water, but the thing resonated and boomed for about 20 seconds with each hit, like thunder that you can hear happening far far away in another town and you get jealous because you wish there was thunder in YOUR town but all you have over here is fucking rain.

On the observation level of the tower, the window safety grates got me thinking.


Why was the partial fence--which is much more aesthetically pleasing and allows a much better view of the city skyline--considered an adequate safety measure when the tower was built, but not anymore? At some point it was decided that people might--if they REALLY wanted to--be able to squeeze through the gap at the top of the window and jump to their deaths, so they installed this heavy duty prison screen over the entire window.

The same goes for the park's other water reservoir: 




The beautiful stone walkway around the reservoir is now off limits and replaced by a grimy mud path fenced off by razor wire, presumably because someone might somehow fall into the water and drown.

All this begs the question: What's changed?

What happened in society over the last hundred years that made people so terrified of the slightest risk of harm? At the turn of the century, people absolutely didn't give a shit. Empire State Building construction workers tight-walked on narrow beams thousands of feet above the ground. Public parks didn't "close" at dusk and there were certainly no safety screens on windows and ledges.

When and why did society take it upon itself to save people from their own stupidity? And why stop with high windows? Isn't the logical extension of this to just run foam rubber padding over every sharp corner in the natural world?



Oh and also, I saw this T.Rex on these people's house, and immediately loved them.









2 comments:

  1. Amen. I fear for today's children.

    My favourite remains the parents chiding with "Stop it. Staaahp it. Stop it or I'll tell you to stop again."

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  2. I always wished that my childhood was more like my parents'; children out playing in the street until the sun goes down or they're called into the house for dinner.
    But alas, I grew up when the safety scare was already booming, and parents didn't want their children playing out in the street where there were cars and rapist-murderers around every corner.

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