The tourists are gone, the betrothed are growing scarce, and the state workers are descending into their underground city. All summer they have strolled beside, taken photos in front of, and gazed upon the reflecting pool at the Empire State Plaza. The pool has inherent beauty, but its function has always been to enhance that of its environs. The Corning Tower, the Egg, and the quartet of agency buildings, all intended to inspire awe; the pool, to amplify it.
This week, workers from the Office of General Services opened the valves and released its waters. They churned through pipes below the city, out through sepulchral structures on the waterfront, and into the Hudson. As the waterline sank, the resident mallards took notice and decamped for their winter berths.
It is drained, but it is not gone. Puddles have gathered in the dimples of the lining, ringed with salt. Their reflections distort the Egg and bend the sharp Museum angles into soft curves. No longer does the pool give easy awe; instead, it’s left to your mind to piece together the buildings’ portraits.