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  #121  
Old Posted May 20, 2015, 12:03 AM
Drybrain Drybrain is offline
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Originally Posted by Keith P. View Post
We seem to have a cadre of folks here who believe that no old building should ever be demolished, despite it being a slum or unsafe. Then there are others who believe that just as in nature, things have a natural lifespan, and some things get replaced by better-adapting, newer things. Although the SF quake wasn't part of the normal lifecycle of buildings, the result is as you have seen - it led to a significantly improved city in the long run.
NYC's Lower East Side was a "slum" and "unsafe" in the 80s. Walls were crumbling and floors caving in. But is this because the buildings had reached the end of their lifespans? No, it's because landlords stopped doing, in many cases, even the most basic maintenance, and that persisted for decades.

Nonetheless, most of the buildings survived. Here's the neighbourhood today:



Sure, the bricks could use a scrub. But the interiors are incredible, and the proof is in the real-estate market. Millionaires are buying condos in restored tenements like these, and high-end retail occupies more ground floors than you can count. The appeal wouldn't be there if these were all shiny and new--and the city would lose a big part of what makes it so loved.

Likewise: I was in Toronto this morning on a long layover, and walked around the city for a few hours. Took this pic of the Gladstone Hotel on Queen Street West:



This building was in worse shape, by far, than anything currently considered an at-risk historic building in Halifax. A long-standing flophouse, it was a fairly fancy hotel in the 19th century, before the neighbourhood around it fell into poverty and the building became a flophouse for most of the latter part of the last century.

It was barely been maintained at all since the second world war. There's nothing in Halifax that can compare to the state of its decrepitude—not the block Westwood plans to knock down, not the Dennis, not anything. There's a good little documentary called Last Call at the Gladstone Hotel, about the difficulty of the restoration, and the gentrification of the neighbourhood, that really lays bare the dire shape the thing was in after decades of neglect. It was condemnable and seemed to be ultimate headed for demolition.

But, since being restored by heritage-friendly developers, it's become a lynchpin of the entire neighbourhood's revitalization. Given the role it occupies in the area, the way it bridges between old and new, and simply because people love restored historic buildings to feel connected to their community, a new building couldn't possibly have been as important to the neighbourhood, and couldn't MEAN what this place means to the neighbourhood and the city as a whole.

And of course, it would never have required such extraordinary effort to restore if it hadn't been ignored for so long.

I suppose buildings have lifespans, but a well put-together masonry structure, kept in good repair, can last for centuries as long as it receives regular maintenance—as many do. I don't think any of Halifax's 19th-century masonry buildings could possibly be considered at the end of their run. And I DO oppose tearing pretty much any of them down at this point, because we've already lost a huge amount. And the character of the city isn't going to be our much vaunted "balance" of old and new if we keep losing the old to bad development, fires, etc.


I just don't get the arguments that these kinds of buildings are obsolete or ready for the wrecking ball because they're a little worn-in.
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  #122  
Old Posted May 20, 2015, 12:27 AM
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Very few of the buildings in the Scotia Square area were masonry or, if they were, had any architectural detail. You're comparing apples to oranges. The majority of old buildings here are stick-built and unremarkable.

I do not find that NYC picture very appealing.
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  #123  
Old Posted May 20, 2015, 12:32 AM
Drybrain Drybrain is offline
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Very few of the buildings in the Scotia Square area were masonry or, if they were, had any architectural detail. You're comparing apples to oranges. The majority of old buildings here are stick-built and unremarkable.

I do not find that NYC picture very appealing.
There was some masonry around Scotia Square though.

But anyway, I'm more thinking of the endangered stuff of the here and now--SGR BMO/Fireside, Dennis, etc.
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  #124  
Old Posted May 20, 2015, 12:52 AM
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Very few of the buildings in the Scotia Square area were masonry or, if they were, had any architectural detail. You're comparing apples to oranges. The majority of old buildings here are stick-built and unremarkable.
I think this is an argument for doing a good job of preserving the comparatively few masonry buildings that have survived. They have a big positive impact on neighbourhoods when kept in good condition and maintaining them involves very little sacrifice at this point. There are lots of other development sites appropriate for new buildings.
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  #125  
Old Posted May 20, 2015, 1:01 AM
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The majority of old buildings here are stick-built and unremarkable.
One other thing: unremarkable is in the eye of the beholder. I think these are pretty nice, for being stick-built, and they're nowhere near the best we have in town--just a photo I have lying around.

As long as the frame is solid, some nice siding and trim does wonders.

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  #126  
Old Posted May 20, 2015, 5:29 AM
ILoveHalifax ILoveHalifax is online now
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I know there were houses in the north end that had no foundation and MUD/DIRT floors. May I suggest that tearing them down and starting over might be a better long term investment than working with what was there.
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  #127  
Old Posted May 20, 2015, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Drybrain View Post
One other thing: unremarkable is in the eye of the beholder. I think these are pretty nice, for being stick-built, and they're nowhere near the best we have in town--just a photo I have lying around.

As long as the frame is solid, some nice siding and trim does wonders.

Interesting you used that example. That is one of the early attempts at converting an old row house into condos - dates from the early '80s I believe if not a bit before. Those units seemed to often come up for sale in the late '80s and through the '90s. I looked at them and if you were a fan of cramped, cut-up spaces mixed with bits of Victorian detailing and '80s-style renos I suppose they had some appeal, but my sense was they were a very hard sell. Lots of limitations. Had to have a love for Victoriana to appeal.
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  #128  
Old Posted May 20, 2015, 1:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Keith P. View Post
Interesting you used that example. That is one of the early attempts at converting an old row house into condos - dates from the early '80s I believe if not a bit before. Those units seemed to often come up for sale in the late '80s and through the '90s. I looked at them and if you were a fan of cramped, cut-up spaces mixed with bits of Victorian detailing and '80s-style renos I suppose they had some appeal, but my sense was they were a very hard sell. Lots of limitations. Had to have a love for Victoriana to appeal.
Looks like they've been improved since.
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  #129  
Old Posted May 20, 2015, 2:39 PM
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For $400/week, that's a nice looking rental; however, except for the Victorian outside, there is nothing historic about the inside. The 'facade is nice.
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  #130  
Old Posted May 20, 2015, 7:52 PM
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For $400/week, that's a nice looking rental; however, except for the Victorian outside, there is nothing historic about the inside. The 'facade is nice.
And inside is just as cramped and cut-up as I remember.
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  #131  
Old Posted May 24, 2015, 7:05 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Originally Posted by Keith P. View Post
We seem to have a cadre of folks here who believe that no old building should ever be demolished, despite it being a slum or unsafe. Then there are others who believe that just as in nature, things have a natural lifespan, and some things get replaced by better-adapting, newer things. Although the SF quake wasn't part of the normal lifecycle of buildings, the result is as you have seen - it led to a significantly improved city in the long run.

I made no reference to minimizing the lives of those lost in the SF quake and frankly find your comment extremely offensive.
Regardless of your misinterpretation of my opinions regarding old buildings and neighbourhoods, I don't completely disagree with you. I do feel that the best-case outcome would have been somewhere in between the extremes, but enough beating of the horse which has already expired.

I likewise apologize for my misinterpretation of your comments regarding the SF earthquake. Enough said.

Frankly I'm tired of arguing every little point and will thus intend to reduce my responses in the near future - much to the relief of many here I'm sure. Carry on.

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  #132  
Old Posted May 24, 2015, 9:18 PM
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Regardless of your misinterpretation of my opinions regarding old buildings and neighbourhoods, I don't completely disagree with you. I do feel that the best-case outcome would have been somewhere in between the extremes, but enough beating of the horse which has already expired.

I likewise apologize for my misinterpretation of your comments regarding the SF earthquake. Enough said.

Frankly I'm tired of arguing every little point and will thus intend to reduce my responses in the near future - much to the relief of many here I'm sure. Carry on.

It would be a shame if you decreased your input. I look forward to your posts. I can recall Keith saying some time ago that he like the cut of your jib; despite his huffing and puffing, I suspect that he still does. I do hope that he is not offended by me saying that.
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  #133  
Old Posted May 25, 2015, 3:15 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Originally Posted by JET View Post
It would be a shame if you decreased your input. I look forward to your posts. I can recall Keith saying some time ago that he like the cut of your jib; despite his huffing and puffing, I suspect that he still does. I do hope that he is not offended by me saying that.
Thanks for the kind words. To be more clear, my intentions are to not get drawn into petty disagreements about this and that, thus reducing my post number. Sometimes in retrospect I realize that I've added comments or opinions that don't really contribute to the conversation and other times I've given an opinion that turned into some sort of silly debate. I'm intending to opt out of those sort of exchanges and ask myself before posting whether it will really improve the conversation or not.

Hopefully it will result in overall (by average) better quality posts by me, and less frustration for myself and others here.

That's all.
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  #134  
Old Posted Jun 5, 2015, 1:22 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Came across this pic, but not sure of its exact location.



Edit: Here's the tram routes from 1927, which might help to locate the above pic.



Source

Last edited by OldDartmouthMark; Jun 5, 2015 at 1:35 PM.
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  #135  
Old Posted Jun 5, 2015, 1:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Drybrain View Post
NYC's Lower East Side was a "slum" and "unsafe" in the 80s. Walls were crumbling and floors caving in. But is this because the buildings had reached the end of their lifespans? No, it's because landlords stopped doing, in many cases, even the most basic maintenance, and that persisted for decades.

Nonetheless, most of the buildings survived. ...
Somewhat related, and may be of interest to the 'tear it down' crowd:
http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-32890011
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  #136  
Old Posted Jun 5, 2015, 2:25 PM
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I'm thinking that tram pic must be near the top of Buckingham, given the severe slope and the harbour in the distance. It looks like it was even more narrow than the typical Halifax cartpath.
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  #137  
Old Posted Jun 5, 2015, 2:42 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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I'm thinking that tram pic must be near the top of Buckingham, given the severe slope and the harbour in the distance. It looks like it was even more narrow than the typical Halifax cartpath.
That looks right, given its vicinity in relation to the harbour.
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  #138  
Old Posted Jun 5, 2015, 2:45 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Somewhat related, and may be of interest to the 'tear it down' crowd:
http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-32890011
Penn Station was a real loss. New York learned from their mistakes, but I'm not sure Halifax has even realized that it has made mistakes much less having learned from them as yet

More pics at the link:
http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/new-...enn-station/1/
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  #139  
Old Posted Jun 5, 2015, 3:23 PM
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I took the train last year from Philly to New York; I thought that I was arriving at Grand Central, but it was Penn Central; what a disappointment. It was like being in an underground mall, quite depressing. The train station in Philly is very nice, spent an hour just taking in the atmosphere.
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  #140  
Old Posted Jun 5, 2015, 3:56 PM
Drybrain Drybrain is offline
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Originally Posted by OldDartmouthMark View Post
Penn Station was a real loss. New York learned from their mistakes, but I'm not sure Halifax has even realized that it has made mistakes much less having learned from them as yet

More pics at the link:
http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/new-...enn-station/1/
The loss of Penn Station really kicked off that city's (and America's) heritage-preservation movement. I think you're right that even though we've lost plenty of amazing structures, we don't seem to have suffered that kind of civic trauma and thereby woken up to the stupidity of continued demolition.

It doesn't help that the new Penn Station is a miserable bunker occupying a whole huge NYC block., which continually reminds people of the mistake.
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