A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bad Ideas: The 1970s Raised Pedestrian Walkway at Tahrir Square

Everyone in the world has become familiar with Cairo's Tahrir Square in the past year and a half, but when I first lived in Egypt 40 years ago in 1972-73, Tahrir looked a bit different. Someone had had the bright idea — possibly the same person who dreamt up New Coke and Apple Maps for iOS6 — of building a raised pedestrian walkway circling the Midan. It did allow pedestrians to avoid cutting through traffic, but it was a monstrously ugly concrete eyesore, reached by equally ugly and overly large staircases. It even accomplished the impossible: it made the ugly massive Mugamma government building look even uglier than it normally does.

The walkway didn't last long, but one picture that's been circulating on several websites during the weekend's anniversary of the October 1973 War shows it in an image of President Sadat's motorcade passing through Tahrir after a speech to Parliament on October 16, 1973. It was even uglier without the flags and bunting.

The Mugamma is to the right and the AUC campus (now the downtown campus) in the left background.
Here's another shot looking toward the Nile; the old Foreign Ministry and Arab League with Cairo Tower in background.

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