New York may be becoming a little more Paris-like — we're even going to have sidewalk pissoirs — but we still have a lot of catching up to do. For instance, imagine Mayor Bloomberg railing about the "banalization" of Times Square (or, for that matter, of anything). His Parisian counterpart, faced with the familiar march of megaretail up the Champs-Élysées (Adidas, Gap, Benetton, Virgin), dealt with it in a delightfully French way: He legislated against it. H&M, for instance, was outright banned from opening a branch on the boulevard. "We don't have anything against H&M," the Times quotes the deputy mayor as saying. "It just happens to be the first victim." Of course, this being France, the area's historic establishments — independent movie theaters, for instance — get serious subsidies to stay open. Sadly, it's as hard to imagine the City Hall sniffing at, say, the banality of T.J. Maxx as to see it doling out $40,000 a year to keep the Quad afloat.
Megastores March Up Avenue, and Paris Takes to Barricades [NYT]
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