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Drybrain Apr 19, 2015 7:59 PM

Historic Halifax
 
As requested I have moved this discussion to a proper thread for the general discussion of Historic Halifax. Please keep all discussion around this topic in this thread unless it related directly to another thread (ie asking about the old Roy building in "The Roy Halifax" thread).




Quote:

Originally Posted by ILoveHalifax (Post 6996094)
Will the rat infested building that currently houses the BMO come down once they move?

I was at a used bookstore today and saw a copy of Halifax: Warden of the North, in which the following passage appears:

http://i.imgur.com/AGXQrDp.jpg

That's from an edition published in the mid-1960s, which seems to be about the same era from which ILove and Keith's thinking on the subject of urban renewal comes.

someone123 Apr 19, 2015 9:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Drybrain (Post 6996377)
That's from an edition published in the mid-1960s, which seems to be about the same era from which ILove and Keith's thinking on the subject of urban renewal comes.

It's an interesting passage. I think it is problematic in some ways but doesn't really demonstrate the sort of outlook that people today tend to project onto 1960's-era Halifax.

The big flaw that I see is that there was a sense that the rich and powerful are made of different stuff than the common folk, and that the poor would be better off under strong direction from above. There was too much paternalism and not enough listening or understanding.

Another huge flaw of the paternalistic approach is that the interests of the poor often don't align with those of the rich, and it is easy to pass off self-interested policies as "help" (or "tough love"). We still see this today with rhetoric about wage slaves needing to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, they'd do so great if only we treated them more harshly, etc. This isn't altruism, it's business owners not wanting to pay wages. Thankfully, NS and Halifax are not as bad in this area as most of North America.

What I tend to see less of in material from the 1960's is the sort of raw Jim Crow Southern-style racism that people think was common in NS back then. It may have been common in some circles but it really doesn't come through in the laws of the time, news coverage, or passages like these. 60's KKK groups or whatever were not advocating for the government to build nicer housing for black people. The focus on racism is unfortunate because it's mostly a distraction from the primary economic problems. Self-flagellation over perceived racism 50 years ago isn't going to help anybody, and you can't even understand what happened back then without a much more nuanced perspective.

Two things in particular that throw people off are the living standards and the language of the time. "Negro" did not have the connotations it does today. Similarly, Africville's living standards were not that different from poor parts of rural NS inhabited by white people. There was a level of poverty back then that people have trouble identifying with today. It had mostly disappeared by the 1980's, largely because of major modernization projects like public housing construction, new power plants, modern ports and highways, etc. Today I think a lot of people take this infrastructure for granted.

Keith P. Apr 19, 2015 10:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Drybrain (Post 6996377)
That's from an edition published in the mid-1960s, which seems to be about the same era from which ILove and Keith's thinking on the subject of urban renewal comes.

Nice unprompted slam from left field. Was that your picture I saw on the cover of The Idiot Book today? :P

ILoveHalifax Apr 19, 2015 10:19 PM

I suppose you can read a book and determine that everything done in urban planning in the 60s was just wrong. I saw all the slums in Halifax in those days including Africville. To me Africville was much worse than rural Nova Scotia. Halifax had a national reputation for very bad slums.
I much prefer the Halifax of today which for all its shortcomings is one of the nicest small cities in North America. Somebody did something right so it wasn't all bad.

counterfactual Apr 19, 2015 10:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Drybrain (Post 6996377)
I was at a used bookstore today and saw a copy of Halifax: Warden of the North, in which the following passage appears:

http://i.imgur.com/AGXQrDp.jpg

That's from an edition published in the mid-1960s, which seems to be about the same era from which ILove and Keith's thinking on the subject of urban renewal comes.

Kind of sad, in the sense that "the Beach" sounds like it could have been a really interesting area of the downtown, if it was preserved in some kind of form, whether the structures remained, or at least a general structure or layout of the burrough.

Sort of sounds like The Five Points of New York City:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Points,_Manhattan

Here's how Dickens described it:

Quote:

What place is this, to which the squalid street conducts us? A kind of square of leprous houses, some of which are attainable only by crazy wooden stairs without. What lies behind this tottering flight of steps? Let us go on again, and plunge into the Five Points....

This is the place; these narrow ways diverging to the right and left, and reeking everywhere with dirt and filth. Such lives as are led here, bear the same fruit as elsewhere. The coarse and bloated faces at the doors have counterparts at home and all the world over....

Debauchery has made the very houses prematurely old. See how the rotten beams are tumbling down, and how the patched and broken windows seem to scowl dimly, like eyes that have been hurt in drunken forays. Many of these pigs live here. Do they ever wonder why their masters walk upright instead of going on all fours, and why they talk instead of grunting?

—Charles Dickens in American Notes, p. 61
Keep in mind, those are lines from the mid 1800s not the 1960s. Doh.

Drybrain Apr 19, 2015 11:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Keith P. (Post 6996469)
Nice unprompted slam from left field. Was that your picture I saw on the cover of The Idiot Book today? :P

What's the idiot book? (But no, I don't think so...)

And to ILove's comment, no, I don't think everything that happened back then was a mistake (though a lot was--certainly the Cogswell interchange was not an improvement on the Victorian blocks that were there, even if those buildings were in need of major renovation.) l just think that "it's old and dirty, better off tearing it down" is an attitude common to that time. ILove's comment about the BMO building on SGR is emblematic of that, as reflected in the passage about replacing the "shabby and decrepit" buildings that became the Historic Properties with something "new and trim."

We agree, anyway, that this is one of the best cities of its size. I wholly endorse that sentiment.

Nifta Apr 20, 2015 8:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Drybrain (Post 6996377)
I was at a used bookstore today and saw a copy of Halifax: Warden of the North, in which the following passage appears:

That's from an edition published in the mid-1960s, which seems to be about the same era from which ILove and Keith's thinking on the subject of urban renewal comes.

Lol! :haha::haha::haha:

OldDartmouthMark Apr 20, 2015 9:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Drybrain (Post 6996377)
I was at a used bookstore today and saw a copy of Halifax: Warden of the North, in which the following passage appears:

http://i.imgur.com/AGXQrDp.jpg

That's from an edition published in the mid-1960s, which seems to be about the same era from which ILove and Keith's thinking on the subject of urban renewal comes.

You know they were off a bit when they considered the law courts building 'handsome'.

Bring back the drinking dens! :haha:

Interesting exerpt as I have a later edition where this commentary had been removed. I had never seen this earlier version before now.

Drybrain Apr 20, 2015 9:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OldDartmouthMark (Post 6997618)
You know they were off a bit when they considered the law courts building 'handsome'.

Bring back the drinking dens! :haha:

Interesting exerpt as I have a later edition where this commentary had been removed. I had never seen this earlier version before now.

The prudish mid-century moralizing of that passage is pretty funny. Sex! Booze! "Shabby and decrepit" buildings! Heavens.

Keith P. Apr 21, 2015 5:27 PM

There was no political correctness back then. People described things accurately without worrying that some thin-skinned group might not like the truth about reality.

Drybrain Apr 21, 2015 9:59 PM

It wasn't really political incorrectness, just uptight finger-wagging about the disreputable nature of the area. Funny to read from the perspective of today, when we're a bit less ready to clutch at our pearls over the thought of "drinking dens."

Anyway, over in the heritage restoration thread there's a before and after sequence of a block of Toronto's King Street east, pictured in the early 70s vs today. The author of that passages in Warden of the North would probably decree this ready for the wrecking ball.

https://losttoronto2.files.wordpress...002_id0083.jpg


But the after pic really illustrates the folly of knocking things down just because they're shabby looking at a particular point in their history.

https://losttoronto2.files.wordpress...7/p1030119.jpg

counterfactual Apr 22, 2015 12:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OldDartmouthMark (Post 6997618)
You know they were off a bit when they considered the law courts building 'handsome'.

Bring back the drinking dens! :haha:

Interesting exerpt as I have a later edition where this commentary had been removed. I had never seen this earlier version before now.

That's quite interesting!

PS: I wonder if GMMR was thinking of "Warden of the North" when writing Game of Thrones. :D

pblaauw Apr 22, 2015 4:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by counterfactual (Post 6999250)
That's quite interesting!

PS: I wonder if GMMR was thinking of "Warden of the North" when writing Game of Thrones. :D

You mean GRRM? :)

ILoveHalifax Apr 22, 2015 10:32 AM

Nice pics but totally irrelevant as compared to the slums that were dozed in Halifax back in the 50s and 60s. I saw them

OldDartmouthMark Apr 22, 2015 3:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ILoveHalifax (Post 6999583)
Nice pics but totally irrelevant as compared to the slums that were dozed in Halifax back in the 50s and 60s. I saw them

That's a pretty general statement, would be cool if you could back it up with pics.

But you probably won't be able to find any, so I will agree that yes, I'm sure there were many buildings that were perhaps non-significant and probably beyond the point of practical repair (especially given the lack of appreciation for our built heritage in those days), but there were many buildings that were lost that could have been brought back and repurposed if somebody had had the foresight to try to save them, rather than raze everything as was the idea of the day. A little 20-20 hindsight to be sure, but the loss is the same. Hopefully we will do better for our future generations.

That said, I realize that we have veered wildly off-topic for this thread, and so I'm not going to comment further on this. Perhaps the discussion could be continued in Old Halifax or some similar thread. (especially if you can provide pics of the old 'slums')

hokus83 Apr 22, 2015 5:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ILoveHalifax (Post 6999583)
Nice pics but totally irrelevant as compared to the slums that were dozed in Halifax back in the 50s and 60s. I saw them

Hardly a valid statement with any merit when you want 90% of the buildings in the city to be dozzed

Drybrain Apr 22, 2015 6:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OldDartmouthMark (Post 6999804)
That's a pretty general statement, would be cool if you could back it up with pics.

To be fair to ILove, a lot of the pics of the Halifax slums I've seen look pretty dire. But so did parts of the North End that are still intact and largely restored (especially the area up and down Falkland Street). ILove seems never to have met an old building he's not ready to condemn, so I'm gonna be skeptical about how far gone into ruin a building has to be before he writes it off.

In any case, it wasn't all rotten wooden slums:

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8483/8...6b93dc20_o.jpg

Every building in this shot is gone, save for the one at the far left, and every one would have been worthy of preservation. But: DRINKING DENS!

OldDartmouthMark Apr 22, 2015 6:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Drybrain (Post 7000161)
To be fair to ILove, a lot of the pics of the Halifax slums I've seen look pretty dire. But so did parts of the North End that are still intact and largely restored (especially the area up and down Falkland Street). ILove seems never to have met an old building he's not ready to condemn, so I'm gonna be skeptical about how far gone into ruin a building has to be before he writes it off.

In any case, it wasn't all rotten wooden slums:

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8483/8...6b93dc20_o.jpg

Every building in this shot is gone, save for the one at the far left, and every one would have been worthy of preservation. But: DRINKING DENS!

I wasn't going to further derail the SGR thread (maybe we could get part of this moved to a new thread?), but yes, that's exactly what I was thinking of. Don't know what these particular buildings would have looked like by the sixties but we've seen other buildings of similar structure which have been brought back or at least their facades preserved. Wouldn't it be cool if the building front and center had been saved? (especially if it had a ground floor drinking den... lol)

Edit: It occurs to me that this would be a cool name for a new bar... "The Drinking Den" :D

ILoveHalifax Apr 22, 2015 9:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Drybrain (Post 7000161)
To be fair to ILove, a lot of the pics of the Halifax slums I've seen look pretty dire. But so did parts of the North End that are still intact and largely restored (especially the area up and down Falkland Street). ILove seems never to have met an old building he's not ready to condemn, so I'm gonna be skeptical about how far gone into ruin a building has to be before he writes it off.

In any case, it wasn't all rotten wooden slums:

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8483/8...6b93dc20_o.jpg

Every building in this shot is gone, save for the one at the far left, and every one would have been worthy of preservation. But: DRINKING DENS!

There were houses (slums) all over the city including the north end that have been torn down, so to look at what is left and think that they have all been restored/renovated is a fantasy.
I tend to feel if I would not want to live in these old buildings that neither should anybody else have to. A rat is a rat and nobody should have to cohabitate.
Seems to me as much as I am ready to knock them all down that you are prepared to preserve every old slum, and I fail to understand why you are on a skyscraper forum when you dislike them so.

Drybrain Apr 22, 2015 9:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ILoveHalifax (Post 7000445)
There were houses (slums) all over the city including the north end that have been torn down, so to look at what is left and think that they have all been restored/renovated is a fantasy.
I tend to feel if I would not want to live in these old buildings that neither should anybody else have to. A rat is a rat and nobody should have to cohabitate.
Seems to me as much as I am ready to knock them all down that you are prepared to preserve every old slum, and I fail to understand why you are on a skyscraper forum when you dislike them so.

True story: My sister's condo building in Regina (constructed in 2008) has rats in the basement storage areas because of people leaving edibles down there. A rat is indeed a rat, and it doesn't care at all how old or new a building is.


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