Pittaki Street in central Athens was, until recently, a dimly lit and poorly trafficked alley. It could have easily gone the route of countless of other neglected byways, becoming a dead zone of drifting garbage and seedy characters.
But Athenians decided not to let Pittaki fade away. Instead, late last year they made it the target of a curious micro-experiment in urban rejuvenation. They gathered all the old lamps they could find by digging deep in their closets and crawlspaces and scouring the shelves of antique stores and rummage shops. Chandeliers, shantungs, bell shades, paper Asian lanterns – these they retrofitted with new wiring and weatherproofing and strung up in glowing lines above Pittaki. Today, the alley shines as brightly as a lamp store during a three-alarm blaze.