Friday, March 21, 2008

We can do better if we want to

The nature of large publicly-driven urban revitalization schemes in poor cities, is to make the project take up as much room, and take out as much blight as possible. Thus, 200 office workers and their parking spots take up an entire city block where a dozen buildings and a score of different uses once were.

But somewhere between the 1970s and today, other cities began to learn how to re-build streets in ways that doesn't destroy them further. Jeff Daniels aptly said on Leno recently that Winnipeg is "like Buffalo [New York], but with communists." In Buffalo, our less collectivist American counterpart, they've shown how beleaguered districts can be brought back to life within the context of that district's scale and architectural traditions.



The question is, does anyone have the will to do this on North Main Street?


When I submitted this article to the Uniter last week, I had no idea how timely it would be. I was only writing on what I hope will one day take the form of a book: the colorful story of Main Street.

Looking north from the NE corner of Main and Henry Avenue, 1899

May Day parade at Higgins and Main, c.1915. The Dominion Bank, which is now home to the Bridgman Architecture firm, is on the left

the east side of Main between Henry and Logan Avenues, c.1918

Crossing the street at Main and Higgins, c.1935

Soldiers on Austin Street near Higgins, c.1945. Part of the Royal Alexandra and Mount Royal Hotels can be seen in the background

Looking north from Rupert Street, 1962

Please visit this North Main Walking Tour, which can be downloaded in .pdf format.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home