National Geographic : 1983 Feb
30-square-block section where it is a chal lenge to put a hand against a building and not cover a bullet hole. One of the nearby streets is Rue de Damas, closed since 1978 and now overgrown with a swale of palm like plants and other lush greenery (page 264). It, too, will be cleaned up and given back to traffic, most likely before the single fig tree growing there bears its first fruit. "If all goes according to plan, this will once again be a beautiful city," Mitri Nam mar, the governor of Beirut, told me as we walked in the Place des Canons, a no-man's land during the fighting. "It will be even better than it used to be." Also targeted for reconstruction are the commercial center, the historical area, and the port. Place des Canons is usually called Place des Martyrs, from an earlier anguish visited on Beirut: Here ruling Turks hanged more than 50 for conspiracy during World War I. Now the buildings around it are gutted and gagged with sandbags. On one corner is the old Rivoli Theatre, for 30 years a landmark, and half a block away the Cafe Cilicie, where once men sat over coffee to chart their routes to riches and revolutions and education for their sons, stands with its front blown away and a single cup, unbroken somehow, on a table set with fallen ceiling tiles. Exquisite Florentine arches survive among these ruins, as does the yellow stone Town Hall, built more than 50 years ago. It can, and will, be repaired.