- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
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 October 3, 2003 

Pointed Opinions About the Square: A street view reaction to Yerevan's new center


After months of waiting and speculation and anticipation, and dust and congested traffic and broken shoes and sweat and money, Republic Square is open again. Scheduled to finish with other Lincy Foundation projects at the end of this month, the Square instead opened September 21, Independence Day.

And it opened to a mixed review that, if a random sampling of pedestrians is any measure, has many people wondering what all the fuss was about.

For 73 year old Yerevantsi Vardges Karapetyan, passing through the Square is part of his routine . . .

"Before it was the same, so what have they changed? Of course, it's good that people had things to do but I see no results," says Karapetyan. "I heard that during construction works some new fountains must have been placed in the square and that they must have been made more beautiful, but instead they have only placed a few lamps and nothing else. And also they have made the square smaller, cars can hardly move. I heard they've spent one million dollars. It's a huge sum for a work like that."

The voice of the local, however, sings a different tune than the guest.

New squares at the Republic square

Florika Gizhirigyan, who came to Armenia from New York with her husband, found the new square nice and delighting.

"I went for a walk and I'm really enjoying the architecture of the Republic Square very much," she says. "Last time I visited Armenia two years ago, however, today the square has become more beautiful. Both the square's project and its architecture are very beautiful."

Traditionally a gathering place for "cruising" youth, the square has been off-limits for flirting for several months, as it has been wrapped in tin border fences while work went on.

Student Mary Petrosyan, 19, came back to the square holding out great expectations and hopes. She says she's disappointed.

"When they just started construction works me and my friends thought there would be the map of Armenia drawn in the center of the square and it would be very nice," she says. "Telling the truth I had greater expectations, which haven't come true. I thought that reconstruction would make the square very beautiful, however, everything is very ordinary. For months we have been waiting covered with dust and inconveniences. The traffic was entirely blocked and troubled, however, almost none of the expectations have been met."

"Everything could be better," says 24 year old Erik Grigoryan. "A few days ago we had guests from different countries and when they visited the square they were very surprised. 'What, aren't there more beautiful stones in Armenia than these ones with the help of which it would have been possible to construct more expressional views in the center of the square?' I completely agree with their opinion."

Florika Gizhirigyan, who came to Armenia from New York, found the new square nice and delighting.

An old man who didn't want to give his name, doubts the value of prettying up the square.
"When a woman is not beautiful, she can change her look with the help of makeup and colors, however, still she is the same ugly woman," says the man. "In this case everything is the same. They have reconstructed but there is no quality in the work they have done, everything will be broken down soon."

A teenager fears that the old man may be right.

"Whatever there was, everything remained the same," said 19-year old Anush Bavoyan. "Now we are walking along the square and thinking, when the stones come out and when everything is broken down because something like happened with some parts of the streets that were reconstructed one year ago. I think the square will be damaged sooner than streets."

Tired of the worries of life 58 year old Juliet Yeghiazaryan discontentedly says that more useful things could be done for money spent for the square.

Guys are happy that the construction is finally over and they can proceed to their favorite amusement, flirting with girls; needing neither an old or new square for the eternal occupation of youth.

"I see no sense in reconstructing the square. There were many important things to do that could have helped people," she says. "It would be better to improve people's living conditions, create jobs. What is the use of this? Before this reconstruction people again were having walks and enjoying it."

Hambardzum Gevorgyan, 72, took his first look at the new square and was unimpressed.

"Before it was better than now. What do they think they have done," he says. "I think everyone shares my point of view. They have narrowed the square and now one can hardly move here. When construction works just started we thought everything would be beautiful and would have a rich view, however…"

Student Loretta Mkrtchyan believes that as a result of reconstruction nothing new has been added to the square. But her elder, Emma Chibukhchyan, disagrees.

"Gradually the city becomes more beautiful," she says, "and it is very good. Concerning architecture we who are not specialists in this field cannot say anything. But I guess everything is very good."

Good for guys like Arshak Gasparyan and Hovhannes Margaryan if only because it is open again. They walk lazily about in jogging suits, glad that construction is finally over and they can proceed to their favorite amusement, flirting with girls; needing neither an old or new square for the eternal occupation of youth.

According to Agnes
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  Photos of the week
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Click on the photo above to enlarge.


Bridge Bash

The second half of the Ashtarak Bridge is ready to be passed over, but not before it got a grand opening this week.



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