CHARLES HELOU Charles Helou, named after the President of Lebanon from 1964 to 1970, is a semi-abandoned transit station partly functioning as a terminus for buses and taxis. Its brutalist structure rests almost hidden in the middle of the city, a testament to a past when the future was still something to look forward to and when large-scale public projects were part of a national plan. The Charles Helou Bus Station was meant to combine a central hub for public transport in Beirut with parking spaces for cars in a city which is constantly suffocated by traffic.
YEREVAN BRIDGE The dreaded Yerevan Bridge pierces through Bourj Hammoud’s densely populated urbanscape, creating a fissure in the city that segregates those above who use the bridge from those who dwell beneath it.
BEIRUT RIVER The Beirut River, at least in its current state, is a testament to infrastructural failure in Beirut. The river where my grandfather used to swim is now a stream of urban and industrial waste walled by raw concrete, taking the city’s toxicity out into the sea. A blast wave caused by the Beirut port explosion in August 2020 returned a lot of pollution back upstream.
STATUE OF THE ARMENIAN MARTYRS The Statue of the Armenian Martyrs in Bourj Hammoud, on the outskirts of Beirut, is a memorial dedicated to the victims of the Armenian genocide. It takes the form of a deformed obelisk, a cluster of tortured bodies, human and animal alike, with an eagle standing with its wings spread wide at its top. Across from it lies the skeletal remains of the Araman Factory, a carcass of what was once a construction materials giant that helped set up Beirut’s sewage system during the colonial era.
MOSSES DELI The Mosses Deli is a small getaway from the city’s chaos and the district’s densely populated streets. I have been ordering their roast beef sandwich for as long as I can remember. Inside, the walls are plastered with cartoons, anecdotes, and jokes straight out of a boomer humor magazine.
DORA PORT The Dora Port is the younger, DIY sister of the Beirut Port. As opposed to the latter’s function as an industrial hub for global cargo shipments, the former is dedicated to the small-time fishermen who are always struggling to fish further away from a shore that has become too toxic. However, as any fisherman could tell you, most fish live close to the shore where the food is.
SIMITIAN COMPLEX, ANTELIAS The Simitian complex is a housing project by, and named after, the Lebanese-Armenian real estate mogul Haroutioun Simitian. Its architecture lies somewhere between a private fantasy and Modernist social housing with elements of communal living. It is naturally largely inhabited by Lebanese-Armenians as a middle class counterpart to the housing projects of Bourj Hammoud.