NATO Avenue, 2004-2011
Petroupoli – Eleusina a journey to the inside of nothing An empty route and the thickness of morning air My dreams blocked my eyesight like foot-brakes And they stepped upon the accelerator towards an open sky At the east of the Attica region, below the Thriasian plain, lies a world apart, a rupture in the traditional image of Athens, a strange mixture of ancient myth and modern industrialization. The three big municipalities of the Thriasian Plain, namely Ano Liosia, Aspopyrgos and Eleusis, are connected not only by a common past and possibly a common destiny, but also by NATO Avenue. It took its name from the old NATO military base in Aspropyrgos. The inhabitants of the area believed for many years that nuclear weapons were secretly stored there. But as years passed protests faded and any proof of the existence of these weapons was lost when the base was shut down. In 2003 the Avenue was renamed ‘Peace Avenue’, perhaps in order to conceal the fact that in what concerns road safety it is one of the most dangerous places to drive in Europe, with tens of accidents every year, many of the them fatal. However, for the people in the area the name of it will always be NATO Avenue. In the towns that it goes through one can find local Arvanites, Roma and other internal economic migrants, ethnic Greeks repatriated from ex-USSR Republics and economic migrants from Asia. It is a colorful, strange and original multicultural mixture that sometimes turns explosive when different communities clash with each other. Agriculture is on the decline because of industrial development, when farms and plots gave their place to small industries and warehouses. The seafront also changed, because shipyards and oil refineries were built. But the biggest damage was done to the social fabric. Instead of social policy one finds shantytowns and the absence of social services. People try to survive between the agony to find work and petty crime.