Oxford may be a city of spires. London is a city of cranes. There is almost no vista unsullied by those markers of urban development. Cranes are the epitome of the industrial, the brutal, the ugly. They are also a symbol of urban change and renewal. And, for all their brutal ugliness, cranes can be surprisingly visually striking, even photogenic. So here is my elegy to the crane. Two of the photos, incidentally, are not of London. I will leave you to spot the deliberate mistakes and to work out in which city those photos were taken…
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Those plentiful cranes in London at the moment are quite extraordinary in their inability to not be noticed, I can see at least half a dozen from Hammersmith. Sadly however the construction boom in this city represents to me the transformation of London into a place for the international rich. Great photos though.
Bernhard Blauel BLAUELARCHITECTS
For sheer numbers of construction cranes Shanghai, particularly ten and fifteen years ago, takes the cake. While the ‘aesthetics’ of cranes juxtaposed to sky, reflections, clouds, or any other aspect of light may be beautiful,
the statement of ‘cranes’ as it is applicable to the transformation of life on earth is found in those panoramic images of
the development of places like Shanghai and Beijing, where in a 180 degree panorama, one could count hundreds of them.
While London may be for the international rich, China has, thanks to the efforts of Deng Xiaoping, raised more people out of crushing poverty than any person in human history.
I can’t see a crane without thinking of the closing moments of the Hammer version of Quatermass and the Pit when one of the characters sacrifices himself by Earthing a psychic manifestation of the Devil through the iron of the crane.