Cola Wars On The Mean Streets

The battle heats up in Gotham--and the rest of the country

Until recently, the northern edge of Central Park was a weary, rundown spot. But in the past few months, the look of the place has changed. Suddenly, five convenience stores sport red awnings and one store features a new mural with a bright-yellow sun. The latest urban beautification program? Hardly. It's part of an aggressive new push by Coke into New York, long a Pepsi-Cola stronghold. After hanging the awnings and supervising the mural job, Coke's forces have taken to promoting the corner as a sign of their victory. Says Deborah Stokes, a longtime resident: "It looks like Coca-Cola Land now."

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