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In the papers today 12.02.08: The Death and Life of Great Landmarks

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It’s a landmark day in the papers. Well, a day with a lot of stories on landmarks, landmarking, and things that may become landmarks – always a hot topic, particularly these days with all the stress over the economy and an increasing fixation on urban competitiveness. It’s back to the economic theory of early 1990s for us! Paul Krugman must be thrilled.

So on the landmarks front: the Financial Times is reporting on the Angel of the North. Oddly, the story takes a two-pronged approach to the subject, focusing on both the construction of the sculpture and its regeneration effects. The locals seem thrilled with it still. The piece coincides with increasing attention turned to the so-called Angel of the South – the commission for a 50m-tall structure in Ebbsfleet, Kent, with several high-profile artists shortlisted to design, including Rachel Whiteread, Mark Wallinger and Richard Deacon – and suggests the project may be quite successful.

One of the letters in the Financial Times, by John Forrester, head of London markets at DTZ, argues that ‘landmarks are more crucial than ever for London’ to remain competitive. Especially now that ‘New York is concerned it could lose out further to London because more than 60 per cent of Manhattan’s office stock is over 50 years old’. The message: the City of London shouldn’t be so precious. The result? See ‘Go-ahead for City’s £74m "ski-slope’ tower"’ in the London Evening Standard. It’s by HKR. It doesn’t look like the ski slope in Dubai, a landmark in its own right.

And what better way to see the landmarks of London, of which apparently we need more and more, than by the humble bicycle? Several papers report today on Ken Livingstone’s most recent plan to make London bike-friendly with new pathways and the adoption of Paris’ bicycle hire scheme. The Times wins the headline-picture award: ‘Fleet of free ‘granny’ bikes promised as Paris success story comes to London’, next to a picture of Ken Livingstone proudly mounting one of the cycles. Has Red Ken turned pink?

In sad news, the Financial Times reports, a landmark in Seoul was burned down by, authorities think, an arsonist. The 600-year-old Namdaemun was the oldest wooden structure in the city.

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