There’s a scene in Cars (one of the weaker Pixar films, but we can put that aside) depicting the history of fictitious Route 66-side town, Radiator Springs.
Once a bustling pit stop along the highway, the three-minute montage shows the town’s transformation into its neglected, underpopulated present.
“Cars didn’t drive on it to make great time, they drove on it to have a great time,” the town attorney says of Route 66, as she gesticulates (as best as a Porsche 996 with no limbs can) towards the multi-laned interstate which brought about the town’s financial ruin.
As she speaks, the interstate disappears. Sepia-toned scenes of great American roadtrips fade in. A Randy Newman song plays:
Main Street isn’t Main Street anymore.
No one seems to need us like they did before.
The interstate reappears. With that, the petrol stations and cafes board their windows, and the anthropomorphised cars drive away to take the quicker route to their respective destinations.
Much like Lightning McQueen, the main character in Cars (which I really must stress, despite my extended and deeply impassioned references to it, is not that good), stumbled upon Radiator Springs, I found myself driving up a now-deserted George Street by accident.
A lazy Sunday afternoon incorrect lane choice and an unexpected journey down the Cahill Expressway resulted in the direction to turn left off Bridge Street and onto George from my GPS.
I was hesitant. I had assumed, as my buses had been inconveniently split between Kent and Elizabeth, so too had motorist traffic.
I was wrong.
Until October 23, you can drive your car along George Street and grieve, as I did, for the everyday people this construction project will leave behind.
With no travellers coming past its front, the Event family’s picture theatre seems doomed to ruin. The Bar opened by Queen Victoria herself at the turn of the century will likely shut its doors with it.
How will Mr Ernst and Mr Young support their young families without foot traffic from the World Square bus stop?
I drove down George at 10 kilometres an hour. Not because I was stuck behind a bus or a lane-hogging cyclist, but because my eyes were so full of tears I thought it necessary to adjust my speed for wet conditions.
Like Radiator Springs, George Street has been bypassed. However, unlike Radiator Springs, there doesn’t seem to be a disgraced champion race car in sight that will save it and then sell a film studio a fuck tonne of boys’ pyjamas.
Immersed in these thoughts, I looked up to see the UTS tower, and realised my joyride was over.
I followed the highway west, knowing that I had driven down Main Street for the last time.