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  #21  
Old Posted Jan 4, 2019, 7:46 PM
eastcoastal eastcoastal is offline
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Originally Posted by Keith P. View Post
Good sleuthing on those pics. Downtown Halifax really did deserve the label of "dirty old town" it had back then.
Yeah - pretty grim.

I do like the arch on the Irving building though...
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  #22  
Old Posted Jan 4, 2019, 8:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Keith P. View Post
Good sleuthing on those pics. Downtown Halifax really did deserve the label of "dirty old town" it had back then.
I used to think the 60's and 70's were the low point but even in the late 40's planners spoke about downtown hollowing out because of the automobile. The 60's developments were the response to that, based on planning models of the day.

Another difference is that Halifax used to be much more industrial. A lot of the grim looking properties were heavy industrial uses that these days are in office parks or overseas.
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  #23  
Old Posted Jan 4, 2019, 11:46 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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That's interesting because the automobile had only really been in widespread use for less than 30 years at that point. In the late '40s, especially in Halifax, not every household had a car - far from it, I believe... and already the freedom and convenience granted by the automobile was starting to convince people that it would be better to live in a nicer area away from the gritty downtown, as was the normal mindset of the time.

By the 1960s, automobile use was in full swing, and with the planned Harbour Drive development combined with the MacKay bridge and Burnside, I can see why waterfront industrial businesses would not see a need to invest further in their properties. Why invest in a hundred-year old building that was already in disrepair, and may be torn down anyway, when you could have one of those modern new steel buildings right in the middle of a transportation hub?

By the late 1960s the city had already acquired numerous buildings in the waterfront area and demolition had commenced. In fact I'm sure that many of those photos on the Municipal Archives were taken for that very reason.

The run-down appearance of the downtown in these photos is merely a sign of end-of-life state for many of these structures, the result of changing dynamics, planning practices of the time, and general neglect by the city.
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  #24  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2019, 12:12 AM
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I think part of it is that early cars had a lot of externalities. They were loud and dirty and they needed space for parking. Even though only a small percentage of people had cars in the 1940's these were the privileged few and they had an impact on everything. This is when small surface lots started to appear, probably because parking became more lucrative than low end housing and commercial space.

1949 is when the north side of the Province House grounds were turned into MLA parking.

1949 is also when the trams were replaced with trolleybuses. Maybe the trolleybus network shifted traffic patterns out to suburban areas.
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  #25  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2019, 12:29 PM
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1949 is also when the trams were replaced with trolleybuses. Maybe the trolleybus network shifted traffic patterns out to suburban areas.
If by suburban you mean the edge of Fairview. The trolleys only ran as far as Simpson's on Chebucto and later on to Bayers Rd Shopping Ctr.

Thanks again to Mark for the pictures and clarity around the Keiths sign. I assume that they were still using the Water St brewery to manufacture Keiths in the 1960s? I really don't know how that all transitioned up to the Agricola St facility.
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  #26  
Old Posted Jan 6, 2019, 6:05 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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I think part of it is that early cars had a lot of externalities. They were loud and dirty and they needed space for parking. Even though only a small percentage of people had cars in the 1940's these were the privileged few and they had an impact on everything. This is when small surface lots started to appear, probably because parking became more lucrative than low end housing and commercial space.

1949 is when the north side of the Province House grounds were turned into MLA parking.

1949 is also when the trams were replaced with trolleybuses. Maybe the trolleybus network shifted traffic patterns out to suburban areas.
Well... loud and dirty certainly describes most of the early cars, up to the late twenties (I recall riding in a friend's 1919 Gray Dort - look it up, Canadian made version of the Dort manufactured in Chatham Ont. - and I could best describe it as similar to riding in a large ride-on mower.). But by the late twenties up on through the name of the game was smoothness and quiet. If you've ever heard a well-tuned Model A Ford (1928 was the first year of that model), you might question whether it was running or not, unless you were standing right next to it. I recall seeing a piece of film footage for some car from the thirties, where they placed a glass of water on the engine while running and you couldn't see any ripples in the water.

I suspect the early surface parking lots were specifically for people who worked at businesses, or the affluent, but if you look at photos of Halifax downtown during the late thirties and forties, you will see a lot of vehicles parked on the street, and streetside parking was probably sufficient for most of the vehicles. Once you got out of downtown, parking wasn't an issue anyhow.

I'm thinking perhaps that the hollowing you refer to had as much to do with the move to build new and shiny on the 'outskirts' (now known as suburban areas) of town rather than upkeep on the old buildings downtown. As you've mentioned before, they weren't considered historical buildings back then, just old non-modern buildings. Plus, the fact that residential was pushed out of downtown in favour of business probably helped in the 'hollowing out'.

I have a hard time believing that it was an issue back then, but I suppose the writing had been on the wall that far back as larger cities (especially in the US) were already dealing with traffic issues in the 1940s.
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  #27  
Old Posted Jan 6, 2019, 6:15 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Originally Posted by Keith P. View Post
If by suburban you mean the edge of Fairview. The trolleys only ran as far as Simpson's on Chebucto and later on to Bayers Rd Shopping Ctr.

Thanks again to Mark for the pictures and clarity around the Keiths sign. I assume that they were still using the Water St brewery to manufacture Keiths in the 1960s? I really don't know how that all transitioned up to the Agricola St facility.
Yes, and the trolleybuses did not provide service in Dartmouth as well. Dartmouth had its own transit system using petrol-powered buses.

You're welcome regarding the photos. I enjoy poking through them when I have some time or when my head needs a rest. I happened to see the sign in those two pics and I immediately thought of your comment.

I'm wanting to find out when they stopped brewing in that particular building (although they are now brewing their smaller lots of 'craft brew' there now). I looked it up on wikipedia but the info is very brief. The only slight hint is:
Quote:
Keith's was sold to Oland Breweries in 1928 and to Labatt in 1971.
but that doesn't really say anything. One would think that the purchase by Labatt's would demand more efficient, centralized brewing, but that is only my guess.
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  #28  
Old Posted Jan 6, 2019, 6:17 PM
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If you look at old aerial photographs, which go back to the 20's or so, you will see there were almost no surface lots in the beginning. By the 40's there were a bunch and after the 50's a substantial portion of downtown was empty lots used for parking. It's hard to say what the causal relationship was, i.e. did some of those buildings get torn down because they were useful for parking, or did they get used for parking after being demolished for some other reason? It's probably a mix of both factors, with the potential parking making empty lots a bit more useful.

Rising incomes, public housing development, and cars all would have encouraged people to abandon the old downtown tenement type housing too.
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  #29  
Old Posted Jan 6, 2019, 6:24 PM
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Originally Posted by OldDartmouthMark View Post
Yes, and the trolleybuses did not provide service in Dartmouth as well. Dartmouth had its own transit system using petrol-powered buses.
They ran across the Macdonald bridge when it opened, but they might have just ended at Wyse Road.

I have never seen a ~1950 transit map for the Halifax area. I've only seen 40's maps showing the tram network. There would have presumably been a mix of electrics and diesel/gas vehicles going pretty far back. The first ones in the world started service in the 1890's.
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  #30  
Old Posted Jan 6, 2019, 9:09 PM
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I have never seen a ~1950 transit map for the Halifax area. I've only seen 40's maps showing the tram network. There would have presumably been a mix of electrics and diesel/gas vehicles going pretty far back. The first ones in the world started service in the 1890's.

There were no transit gas/diesel buses used in Halifax until circa 1963 when NSLP bought a dozen GM fishbowl buses to supplement the trolleys.
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  #31  
Old Posted Jan 7, 2019, 2:11 AM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Originally Posted by someone123 View Post
They ran across the Macdonald bridge when it opened, but they might have just ended at Wyse Road.

I have never seen a ~1950 transit map for the Halifax area. I've only seen 40's maps showing the tram network. There would have presumably been a mix of electrics and diesel/gas vehicles going pretty far back. The first ones in the world started service in the 1890's.
When I originally typed that post, I was going to say they came to the Dartmouth Shopping Centre, as that's what I had heard (I don't have a specific memory of it but I was pretty young when they were taken out of service), but then I looked at this pic from the Municipal Archives and the overhead wires weren't obvious to me, so I doubted my memory. Maybe they are just not showing up due to pic quality.

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  #32  
Old Posted Jan 7, 2019, 2:48 AM
Colin May Colin May is offline
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Originally Posted by OldDartmouthMark View Post
When I originally typed that post, I was going to say they came to the Dartmouth Shopping Centre, as that's what I had heard (I don't have a specific memory of it but I was pretty young when they were taken out of service), but then I looked at this pic from the Municipal Archives and the overhead wires weren't obvious to me, so I doubted my memory. Maybe they are just not showing up due to pic quality.

An original metal pole for the tram power line is still in place at the median opposite the Credit Union office on Wyse Road. Visible on googlearth. And visible in this photo at the point where traffic turns into the mall (Bottom left)
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  #33  
Old Posted Jan 7, 2019, 1:40 PM
IanWatson IanWatson is offline
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Really interesting photos! They're a good reminder that there was a time when downtowns were dirty, harsh places. It's also a good reminder that we should be empathetic when questioning the planning decisions of the past; it's no wonder sprawl and suburban development were attractive!
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  #34  
Old Posted Jan 7, 2019, 2:00 PM
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Originally Posted by OldDartmouthMark View Post
When I originally typed that post, I was going to say they came to the Dartmouth Shopping Centre, as that's what I had heard (I don't have a specific memory of it but I was pretty young when they were taken out of service), but then I looked at this pic from the Municipal Archives and the overhead wires weren't obvious to me, so I doubted my memory. Maybe they are just not showing up due to pic quality.
They did indeed run to the DSC. You can see the path from the dark tire track pattern on the asphalt. The horizontal structure at the edge of the DSC lot above the Esso station is the transfer terminal where the trolley line allowed passengers to switch to a Dartmouth-based Bell Bus.
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  #35  
Old Posted Jan 7, 2019, 4:30 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Thanks for the input, I shouldn't have doubted my instincts.

Here is another photo from the 1960s where you can actually see the posts when you zoom in. On the bridge you can see horizontal extensions on the light posts that would presumably have held the wires for the trolleybuses.

FWIW, I believe the dark streaks on the pavement is actually oil. Back then cars didn't have sealed crankcases like they do today, the older ones actually vented the crankcases to the outside, which meant they had the propensity to blow oil out of the vents if the engine had significant wear on it. Plus, engine gasket technology wasn't as good as today and thus they tended to leak much more oil on the road surface. If you look at the parking lot photos, you will notice that the parking spaces closer to the mall (which would be used more often) have more and larger dark spots in them - from leaking oil.

Here's the pic:
https://novascotia.ca/archives/NSIS/...es.asp?ID=2449



Another pic at this link from NS archives:
https://novascotia.ca/archives/NSIS/...es.asp?ID=2434


I realize that we've veered off the Ralston topic somewhat, and I apologize for that...
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  #36  
Old Posted Jan 7, 2019, 4:51 PM
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It's a good tangent, love those old photos. I wonder if things would look so dirty if they were colour shots?
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  #37  
Old Posted Jan 7, 2019, 9:19 PM
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Originally Posted by OldDartmouthMark View Post
FWIW, I believe the dark streaks on the pavement is actually oil. Back then cars didn't have sealed crankcases like they do today, the older ones actually vented the crankcases to the outside, which meant they had the propensity to blow oil out of the vents if the engine had significant wear on it. Plus, engine gasket technology wasn't as good as today and thus they tended to leak much more oil on the road surface.

Interesting theory and normally I would agree. But remember these were trolley buses powered by electric motors, so there was no engine or crankcase full of motor oil to leak or be vented. Unless they used a lot of lubricating oil that somehow leaked out.
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  #38  
Old Posted Jan 7, 2019, 10:07 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Interesting theory and normally I would agree. But remember these were trolley buses powered by electric motors, so there was no engine or crankcase full of motor oil to leak or be vented. Unless they used a lot of lubricating oil that somehow leaked out.
But I believe the Dartmouth buses also used the same terminal, did they not? That would explain the oil trails. It's a theory I'm fairly confident on, as I recall checking out the oil stains in person (I was a car-obsessed kid), as well as how roads used to become somewhat slippery just after the start of rain due to the little oil slicks that would form on the roads. You don't experience that so much these days.
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  #39  
Old Posted Jan 7, 2019, 10:58 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Originally Posted by IanWatson View Post
Really interesting photos! They're a good reminder that there was a time when downtowns were dirty, harsh places. It's also a good reminder that we should be empathetic when questioning the planning decisions of the past; it's no wonder sprawl and suburban development were attractive!
I don't remember it as well as some might, but I can recall as a kid in the early seventies when part of the waterfront was still somewhat industrial. I can still remember the noises and smells that you don't associate with the waterfront today - the sounds of machinery and physical 'work', and the smells of petroleum products like industrial greases, diesel oil and such.

I also recall being met with the strong smell of fish from the Fisherman's Market that greeted ferry passengers as they disembarked on the Halifax side. That experience wouldn't be acceptable in today's waterfront environment, but the times were different.

This photo from the Municipal Archives is at the bottom of George Street - you can see the Fisherman's Market in the center-left, and the old ferry terminal would have been just beyond that to the left:


Municipal Archives

I'm in a bit of a quandry when it comes to downtown planning at the time. I try not to look at it with 20/20 hindsight, but rather through the mindset that was prevalent back in the day. The question of what to do with an aging downtown still littered with worn out pieces of the industrial age was troubling many cities in the US and Canada, and many just chose to ignore the downtown and build fresh on the outskirts. It was perhaps logical from a financial standpoint, but IMHO it was somewhat short sighted.

In Halifax's defense, they did have a master plan that they hoped would help to revitalize the downtown, and they did go to substantial investment to purchase derelict properties and build infrastructure (the Harbour Drive project), but that was stopped midstream due to protests over the destruction of historic buildings. So what to do with all that cleared land once plans changed? It took them a few decades to figure it out.

In hindsight, it probably worked out for the best, as some historic buildings and the actual waterfront were saved. Nowadays, the downtown seems to finally be headed in the right direction, but even this will be up for scrutiny by future generations, and depending on the idiom of the day it may deemed a success or possible a short-sighted failure... or somewhere in between.
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  #40  
Old Posted Jan 8, 2019, 1:23 PM
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Originally Posted by OldDartmouthMark View Post
But I believe the Dartmouth buses also used the same terminal, did they not? That would explain the oil trails. It's a theory I'm fairly confident on, as I recall checking out the oil stains in person (I was a car-obsessed kid), as well as how roads used to become somewhat slippery just after the start of rain due to the little oil slicks that would form on the roads. You don't experience that so much these days.
Possibly so. The Bell buses were old (even for the time) GM "Old Look" units that were decrepit and not likely well maintained.

Looking at the aerial shots of the DSC I wonder if the Dominion supermarket was expanded at some point? I do not recall this but there is a feature on the roof that suggests it was added on to on the north and west sides.
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