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  • Doily Allergen

Opinion: There Used To Be Something Right Here

empty space on the ped mall
Absurdly empty space on the Ped Mall

When I first came to the University of Iowa, the Ped Mall construction project was in full swing, and though myself and the Iowa City community are thankful it’s all finally complete, I’ve noticed…well.

There used to be something right here. Just look at it—there’s nothing. Not a damn thing for a good 50 square feet. You could walk right through this stretch of brick without bumping into a street lamp, merrily skip across the whole area without hitting your shin against a single public bench.

I tried it myself. Just to see what would happen. Low and behold, it worked. I was able to walk for ten yards at a reasonable pace with absolutely zero interference. Nothing but air.

empty space on the ped mall

No doubt about it. There was once something right here.

This is astonishing. For years, students and Iowa City residents alike have relied on something being in this spot—a tree, a few shrubbery arrangements, an ash catcher—whatever used to be here, it’s gone now. No explanation, no warning.

Was it a bike rack? A trash can? Needless to say, it is very clear that we all took this thing for granted.

Other people have noticed this too right? It’s not just me.

“It’s not right. Something needs to go right here.”

No. It can’t be. My parents always said I was overly observant, but this one…it’s glaring. I shouldn’t be able to lay right here on my back spread eagle and still have enough room for a high-stakes break dance tournament to play out without the slightest chance of someone tripping over me.

It’s not right. Something needs to go right here. A fire hydrant. One of those cool street murals. Like fuck, I’ll take an advertisement. A big old Nike swoosh, someone, anyone telling me to fucking buy something.

Whose brilliant idea was this? “Hey guys, you know what should go right here? Nothing! Zip!! Zero!!! Nada!!!!” “Wow, what a great idea Jeremy, you get a raise now.”

It gives me a fucking anxiety attack. I can’t concentrate in class knowing that there’s this big Goddamn hole of nothing right in the middle of the Ped Mall. The wind blows through it unimpeded. Sound waves travel over the bare bricks freely. A wasteland. What the hell is it for? What’s the point? Are people supposed to stand there, hands in their pockets staring at the featureless pavement?

Fuck me I hope we can get this one figured out. What used to be right here? And more importantly, how do we get it back? Cause Jesus, why?


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