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Beacon / Bunker
What’s the difference between a school, a library, and a police precinct? They’re all civic institutions designed to communicate their contribution to a well-functioning society. And the buildings are similar in appearance. The products of several waves of municipal construction, their locations track a growing urban population on an expanding metropolitan footprint, from dense center to leafy edges. The primary distinction might be the sea of cars parked in front of and around the police precinct, often on the sidewalk, perpendicular to the curb. The cars are the clearest sign of the exceptional powers of the building’s inhabitants, who can defy the parking dictates everyone else must live by. Beyond parking privileges, they alone can arrest people, detain them, surveil them, physically constrain them, or shoot them. For all the comparisons of schools to jails, or the myth of the oppressive silence of the library, the power of the police is unique in the city.