Environment: The Sidewalk's Potential

Rio de Janeiro's broad sidewalks, with their wavy black and white lines, are famous for the visual life and zest they add to the city. Many European streets have the texture of roughhewn stone and are decorated as well. By contrast, sidewalks in the U.S. are merely straight and narrow paths of relative safety. Yet they can be more, as New Yorkers learned last week when "the Calder Sidewalk" suddenly appeared.

It was carefully planned. Last February three building owners on upper Madison Avenue realized that their sidewalk was crumbling and had to be replaced. Since all three buildings housed art galleries,...

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