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  #1  
Old Posted Apr 19, 2015, 7:59 PM
Drybrain Drybrain is offline
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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 View Post
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:



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.

Last edited by Dmajackson; Apr 24, 2015 at 1:21 PM.
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  #2  
Old Posted Apr 19, 2015, 9:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drybrain View Post
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.
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Last edited by someone123; Apr 19, 2015 at 9:32 PM.
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  #3  
Old Posted Apr 19, 2015, 10:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drybrain View Post
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?
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Old Posted Apr 19, 2015, 10:19 PM
ILoveHalifax ILoveHalifax is offline
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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.
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  #5  
Old Posted Apr 19, 2015, 11:34 PM
Drybrain Drybrain is offline
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Originally Posted by Keith P. View Post
Nice unprompted slam from left field. Was that your picture I saw on the cover of The Idiot Book today?
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.
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Old Posted Apr 19, 2015, 10:53 PM
counterfactual counterfactual is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drybrain View Post
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.
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.
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  #7  
Old Posted Apr 20, 2015, 8:41 PM
Nifta Nifta is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drybrain View Post
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!
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  #8  
Old Posted Apr 20, 2015, 9:04 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drybrain View Post
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.
You know they were off a bit when they considered the law courts building 'handsome'.

Bring back the drinking dens!

Interesting exerpt as I have a later edition where this commentary had been removed. I had never seen this earlier version before now.
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  #9  
Old Posted Apr 20, 2015, 9:32 PM
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Originally Posted by OldDartmouthMark View Post
You know they were off a bit when they considered the law courts building 'handsome'.

Bring back the drinking dens!

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.
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  #10  
Old Posted Apr 22, 2015, 12:37 AM
counterfactual counterfactual is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldDartmouthMark View Post
You know they were off a bit when they considered the law courts building 'handsome'.

Bring back the drinking dens!

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.
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  #11  
Old Posted Apr 22, 2015, 4:30 AM
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Originally Posted by counterfactual View Post
That's quite interesting!

PS: I wonder if GMMR was thinking of "Warden of the North" when writing Game of Thrones.
You mean GRRM?
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  #12  
Old Posted Apr 22, 2015, 10:32 AM
ILoveHalifax ILoveHalifax is offline
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Nice pics but totally irrelevant as compared to the slums that were dozed in Halifax back in the 50s and 60s. I saw them
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  #13  
Old Posted Apr 22, 2015, 3:13 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Originally Posted by ILoveHalifax View Post
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')

Last edited by OldDartmouthMark; Apr 22, 2015 at 5:28 PM.
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Old Posted Apr 22, 2015, 5:31 PM
hokus83 hokus83 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ILoveHalifax View Post
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
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  #15  
Old Posted Apr 21, 2015, 5:27 PM
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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.
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  #16  
Old Posted Apr 21, 2015, 9:59 PM
Drybrain Drybrain is offline
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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.




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.

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  #17  
Old Posted Apr 23, 2015, 7:27 PM
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You can see similar features on some of the surviving buildings in that area. The big upper-floor openings that look like doorways were for lifting up ship cargo with small cranes.
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  #18  
Old Posted Apr 23, 2015, 9:49 PM
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That building is called "The Pentagon Building". Someone123 and I had a discussion about it a while back. I remember it from the very early 1960s.

Possibly one of the unwanted casualties when the surrounding slummy buildings were cleared for Harbour Drive.
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  #19  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2015, 12:57 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Two questions:

(1) Mods, is it possible to move this last part of the discussion to a new thread. I think it is an interesting conversation that I would like to see continue, but it is way off topic relating to 5504 Spring Garden Road.

(2) Does anybody have any pics of the area in its run-down state, just before demolition? I might have a few in my "stash" when I have time to go through it, but most pics I've seen are from earlier times when the buildings were in the prime of their life.

It's interesting to read the different perspectives that largely seem to be related to a particular time in Halifax's history. I have foggy recollections (I was quite young at the time) of the Halifax waterfront being a "working", more industrial place, but a lot of the mass-demolition that was popular at the time came about either before I was born or when I was a toddler.

The Pentagon Building above is, IMHO, a classic case of a building that would have been saved today, but was considered expendable 50 years ago because "progress" was more important at the time. It would be good to continue this thread and I'm interested to see what other buildings that were lost due to "progress" during that whole '50s '60s urban renewal/Harbour Drive wreck-fest.
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  #20  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2015, 2:30 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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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).
Thanks!
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