In winter it's an arctic wind-tunnel. Icy, grey, devoid of warmth or purpose - a giant receptacle for pigeon excrement.
In summer it's not much better - a concrete heat trap often overlaid with the whiff of rotting garbage.
Garema Place, how far you have fallen.
When I was at school, the paved City Walk running from David Jones to the bus interchange and connecting Petrie Plaza and Garema Place provided a taste of cosmopolitan sophistication within the sleepy CBD.
No, really, it did.
Civic was a much smaller affair back then - before the monolithic Canberra Centre was even a gleam in the Queensland Investment Corporation's eye. David Jones was a sartorial hot spot, providing a glamorous frontage for the Canberra Centre's predecessor, the Monaro Mall, which was - according to the Canberra District Historical Society - Australia's first three-storey fully enclosed shopping mall when it opened its doors in 1963.
To my mind it had a tiny cafe up the top, a health food shop down the bottom and not much in between.
You'd find me and my high school friends braving the elements on City Walk - checking out Sportsgirl (where a Korean restaurant now ekes out a humble trade) and Stock Jeans (where the Sushi Train is).
There was a Young's department store and Woolies drawing a steady trade, and even a double-decker bus backed up into an alleyway now overtaken by the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport, which served lentil burgers and great salads.
The place had a bustling, almost European, air about it.
The really good shopping back then was to be found in Centrepoint, where Snowgums stocked the best Australian designers and Stuart Membery started my life-long obsession with denim.
Maggie Shepherd clothed Canberra's well-heeled in her outrageously colourful silk.
Nunie later catered for the senior public servants, while Body Politics upstairs did the alternative labels.
You could book into New Wave next door for a Howard Jones-inspired faux hawk if you felt a New Romantic urge while slurping your health shake (wheatgerm, yoghurt, honey) from the fruit salad bar below.
Alas, the place is a wasteland today. A sobering reflection - in smudged glass and sticky dust-laden chrome - of how the Canberra Centre has sucked life out of these paved alleyways and inaction, inattention and indecision on the part of our planners and politicians over the past two decades have all but killed them off.
I'd be a hypocrite if I said I was not also drawn into the gleaming expanses of the Canberra Centre, or that I did not find parking underground much easier than circling the small bays that used to sit off Bunda Street.
I also enjoy the range of shops facing onto those vast, shiny walkways.
It's easy to ignore the elements in an air-conditioned bubble and leave the pigeons to splatter the neglected benches in the deserted thoroughfares below. But sometimes it makes my heart ache.
I took my children to see the ice-skating one blizzarding Sunday. It was supposed to be wholesome fun. And it would have been, but for the roped off blood-splattered crime scene on the corner near the chemist, and the drug deals unfolding nearby.
The empty shops, crumbling signage, yellowing FOR LEASE signs and hopeless air of the place did my head in.
Let us not forget, people, that this is still, technically, the centre of our CBD.
The only rhinestone in the tarnished crown is the strip of bars and restaurants now slowly filling up the far side of Garema Place. On a warm night, with enough people and a few good martinis, it starts to feel alive again.
Is it too late to resuscitate our failing city heart?
Surely it experienced its first infarction in the late '80s when the bulldozers moved in to prepare the ground for the Canberra Centre and it's been barely beating ever since.
I feel for those shop owners clinging to the edges of the old world. Do they stay and fight, or admit the battle is lost?
When I travel interstate and overseas and enjoy the great public spaces of the globe, I have a habit of transposing them in my mind to City Walk.
I imagine outdoor cafes, massive public art installations, child-friendly play spaces to complement the merry-go-round, water, greenery and unique destination points and pop-ups which draw people in.
My heart swells with happiness each year when the multicultural festival fills the pavements with teaming life and smells and sounds of the good variety.
Surely if we put our minds to it we can start the regeneration?
I still have hope.
Besides, I am old enough to remember Braddon as an industrial armpit containing nothing but car yards and mechanics.
You will find me there, eating, drinking, and shopping up a storm most weeks.
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