Monday, March 19, 2012

They told me: ‘Whatever you do , Adam, Don’t go to Needle Park!’

As one that has always been fascinated with urban centers and the study thereof, and being of a non-diminutive stature (physically) as well as – at the time – knowing no real fear, needless to say, my youthful curiosity was piqued when I was advised to stay clear of Zurich’s Needle Park during an early mid-1990s journey to Switzerland. I was told in no-uncertain-terms by all those seemingly in the know, to ‘stay well clear of Needle Park,’ when in Zurich.

So..., what did I do? Of course, I had to go take a gander at Needle Park! Armed only with my somewhat youthful ignorance… (To be continued when I have some more time.)

(March, 2012)

April 22nd, 2016 (Addendum):

Several years ago when I traveled to Zurich, Switzerland for business and against warnings, I went to view Zurich’s Needle Park.  For starters, the City of Zurich appeared almost immaculately clean by U.S. standards at the time.  Moreover, the majority of the Swiss people in the city did not seem as very imposing figures either.  As I had been living and working in the greater Philadelphia area for several years at that point in time, I thought, how bad can this Needle Park place really be?  I drove the little Opel rental car by the park and looked down into it. 

It was, like…, one of the scariest places I’ve ever seen!  Those folks/heroin-addicts in the park appeared so strung-out and desperate that they would likely take the eyeglasses off someone’s face if they could get any bit of money for those stolen eyeglasses.  To have large numbers of them congregating there at the park during any given time of day struck me as quite common-place for the park as well.  Needless to say, I didn’t get out of the car and the thought of seeing that place again never again crossed my mind – not once! 

Now that Switzerland has a state-sponsored heroin program, however, according to the news reports, people walk their dogs and jog where Needle Park had previously existed.  No longer does any fear of crime prevent the mainstream and law-abiding populace from enjoying the park.

I can’t help but to forever wonder: How much would such a decrease in heroin/drug-related crime be worth to our society?  No more dead cops.  No more dead citizens or babies due to stray bullets from drug-dealers fighting each other in the streets.  

To our nation’s leaders, I say:  lead or get out of the way.  Throw in the towel on the drug war, ‘cause I, for one, am tired of paying for it!!!  Where have the nation’s decades-long drug policies left us?  How much money and to what other external costs have been nearly wasted to those ends to date?



(Believe it or not, there’s actually more to this story which took place after I returned to Philadelphia.  Maybe I'll write some more about it, before too long.)