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A Word From Prometheus

By Matt HazeApr 20 2021
Arts & Culture
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Dear Fellow New Yorker,

This is a bit awkward. I feel like I know YOU, but you don’t really know ME. Oh, you’ve seen me countless times over the years, but you’re quick to forget me until your family comes in from out of town and asks for a picture.

So let’s end this awkwardness. If I may, let me introduce myself. I’m Prometheus, the Golden Titan of Rockefeller Center. You probably know me best for my role in creating the first humans from mud in the shape of the gods. (You’re welcome.) I also got in a bit of trouble for stealing fire and giving it to humanity. It irritated Zeus so much I’ve suffered eternal torment by having my liver eaten by a vulture, only to have it regrown overnight and ripped out again every morning. I’m sure you can relate.

For the last 87 years, I’ve been observing how you’ve been living your life from my perch in the Plaza, looking on like a proud father. I’ve seen the moments that are memories in your hearts. I’ve witnessed your first dates. Proposals under the Christmas Tree. I’ve watched your family grow up on the Rink over the years.

Then 2020 happened. It’s like someone all of a sudden flipped the OFF switch on the city. Thousands of people gathering every day became just a handful, all standing at a distance. The sounds of angry car horns were replaced by the sounds of not-as-angry birds. And a year ago today, the Rink suddenly read “#NewYorkTough” in giant letters.

2020 #NewYorkTough displayed on the Rockefeller Center Ice Rink

From what I’ve overheard, things have been, well, different for you this last year as well. Apparently, you’ve pretty much had to stay at home and not go anywhere. I feel you. I know a thing or two about not being able to go anywhere for a long period of time. I’ve been in this same exact spot since 1934.

But there’s a shift happening. Every day, I see a few more people walking down Fifth Avenue again. Old friends have been returning to the Plaza to say hello and fill me in on what’s been going on in their lives. I never thought I’d be so happy to hear traffic noise again. It’s so nice! Not only do I see the shift, I can feel it! The city is coming back to life!

Whether you’ve been here the whole time or left us to spend time elsewhere, only to realize that it’s New York or Nowhere, let me be the first to welcome you back to the greatest city in the world. You might need a reminder of how to do things around here, and you know, how to be a New Yorker. So here goes…

Since you haven’t been going anywhere, you might not remember how to walk in the city. I respect the fact that it’s odd that someone permanently horizontal in the same spot is telling you how to move. But I’ve seen your frustration when your counterparts don’t follow The Unwritten Rules of Walking! So remember: Walking through the Plaza? It’s a brisk walk on the right-hand side. Stopping to say hi to someone? Move to the side, please. Oh, and look up from that device you keep looking down at in your hand. What’s so important on there? Answer: Nothing. You haven’t seen the city in months! Enjoy a new appreciation for your city. You might even see an old friend of yours. (Me, duh!)

One of the perks of being perched in the Plaza is being able to hear all of the conversations you have. Oh, yes. I’ve heard everything. And boy have I heard some doozies. Don’t worry, your secrets are (mostly) safe with me.

Back in March of last year, all of the chatter around me really changed. Conversations went from small talk about work or the ball game last night to something deeper. Something real. People were opening up about how they were really feeling. When someone asked “How are you?” they responded with an actual honest answer. It was so refreshing to hear. I could tell it made such a difference during that time. This is something you should keep.

After being in the same spot for so long, I can only imagine the energy you’ve built up that’s ready to be let out. There was so much I wanted to do when I was chained to that cliff for thousands of years. I bet you’re ready for a bit of fun, too. Plus, apparently people have been talking about needing some new pics to post on their Instagram. As you’re getting out and rediscovering this city, come on by the Plaza and say hello. (I’m right beneath the Flag Project and across from the Channel Gardens.) It’d be nice to see you again—today, on the one-year anniversary of the Rink #NewYorkTough takeover, or another day really soon.

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