We all know Thomas Schelling’s classic analysis of focal points. One of his original examples stipulated that two individuals are to meet somewhere in New York City, but they do not know the time or place. Where would they appear? Schelling suggested that a twelve noon meeting at Grand Central Station (actually called Grand Central Terminal), beneath the central clock, would be focal.
Focal points change, and of course trains have become a less important form of transportation. I have been to Manhattan many times, but have not been in GCS in a good twenty years. And when I take the train, I usually end up getting off at Penn Station. Stick with noon as the time, which place would you find focal today? I see a few options:
1. The clock at Grand Central Station remains focal. Where else to go? Note the clock stands above the designated information point as well.
2. The clock remains focal, but only because Schelling himself has kept it that way with his analysis.
3. Ground Zero.
4. The Empire State Building.
5. The US Air Shuttle Terminal at La Guardia.
6. A central point at Times Square.
7. The Metropolitan Museum of Art or perhaps at Picasso’s Les Demoiselles D’Avignon painting at MOMA.
I will opt for number two, but for my mom I would wait on the stairs of the Met. What do you think? Comments, of course, are open.
Addendum: Brock Sides picks a focal point for Memphis and for the world; on the latter I say in front of The White House.