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  #61  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2015, 1:40 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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I think Africville was A: More distinct from the mainstream of the city, and B: There's a racial element, obviously. I doubt Halifax was a tremendously inviting place for black people in the early and mid-20th century, and this was a mostly self-sustaining community independent of the rest of town

Also, Africville was an African-Nova Scotian community going back close to two centuries. People could trace their lineage back through generations of Africvillers. So that's different from some transient slum neighbourhood.
The "thought provoking" part of all this is that I was referring to in my post:

A) Africville and the area at the focus of this discussion were both considered slum areas at the time, and were thus both included in the "urban renewal" projects of the mid 20th century. I'm not sure that I would say that either area is more distinct than any other. It, like all other neighbourhoods had its uniqueness, yet also shared commonalities.
Also, it was common for poor peoples' rights to be overlooked by municipalities back then, and I'm not sure that the inner-city areas would have received the services that Africville was denied had they not been put in place by default due to the city's development in the previous century. I wonder if some of this might be due to the inner-city areas having initiated by being planned development whereas Africville seemed to "happen" more as a settlement at the outskirts of town (as it was at the early 1800s), I'm not sure. I do believe that the Africville community should have later been recognized as such and thus services should have been put in place - an opinion shared by many that is well documented from many sources.

B) There were African-Nova Scotians living in the other "slum" areas back then, as well as Asian-Nova Scotians, European-Nova Scotians, First Nations people, etc. I'm sure that racial discrimination plagued all of these neighborhoods, as it had (and continues to) in neighbourhoods worldwide. Remember that racism is not a unique characteristic of Halifax, in fact Nova Scotia was considered a safe haven for people of African lineage escaping slavery from the southern US back in those times. This is how Africville itself received its start.

Also, I think you are trying to bolster your argument by making an unfair generalization in calling areas other than Africville "transient slum neighborhoods". I'm sure there were transient people in all areas, but there were also families who lived there for many reasons, financial being one of them. Regardless, it was "home" to them, it was their community. So, although you can't put a definite racial spin on this situation, there was discrimination happening towards the "slums" (perhaps based more on financial situation than anything). It would be difficult to try to deny that the "slum" neighbourhood received treatment that was different than more affluent areas of the city.

Another interesting, thought-provoking point is that although we like to demonize the planners and municipal officials of the time, I believe that deep down they really felt that they were doing "the right thing". While perhaps naively ignoring social and cultural implications, they believed that eliminating unsafe, unsanitary neighborhoods with many associated social ills would somehow cure everything by displacing the people to new, clean housing elsewhere in the city. They spent considerable public money to do so, but as someone123 points out, failed to consider the root of the social issues and thus simply moved existing social problems to a new location. Not trying to justify what was done, but trying to consider the situation in a balanced manner.

To sum up, there's no question that the whole Africville situation was appalling on many levels, and I'm sure a good portion of this was racially motivated, but I also don't think it's fair to cast off what happened in other neighborhoods as being inconsequential, since the actions and results to the residents were similar in both cases.

In my opinion, for the sake of fairness, I think that we should try to look at all situations with the same 20-20 hindsight and throw away the rose-coloured glasses. Our goal should be historical accuracy considered from many perspectives, IMHO.

Hopefully we never repeat the mistakes of the past.

Please note that my intention is not to spark a debate on Africville but to hopefully try to add some context to this thread.
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  #62  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2015, 2:30 PM
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We can criticize the planning profession today as being know-it-alls, but it was far worse 40 or 50 years ago, when a handful of paternalistic city planners and politicians had the power to relocate entire neighbourhoods' worth of people, take their homes away via eminent domain, and indiscriminately bulldoze entire parts of the city, to fit some mid-century ideal of progress which was, at best, a mixed bag, and at worst deprived us of more neighbourhoods that could have looked like the above.
Ok, Im going to plug my work in progress 60's series on Builthalifax http://halifaxbloggers.ca/builthalif...ax-thinks-big/ It is my contention that developments that came about in the 60's were reactions to the industrial revolution. The Industrial City was dirty, and Crime ridden, the country wasen't, so introducing country into the city was the solution.

Its easy to blame planners, but alot of this stuff had support of community groups and business. look at the 1945 master plan. No Planners. 2 Architects, and the rest of the committee were citizens.

Also this isn't unique to Halifax. Montreal Did something simaler, Ottawa cleared a much larger Area - Lebreton Flats, and that sat vacant for 40+ years, Toronto built regent park

we all like pictures, so here are a few from the Coming Scotia Square post

Here's a view of the Cleared Area. I believe this was the original intended scope of the Scotia Square Developments, though the proposals variously expanded the area.

News Clipping under construction:

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  #63  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2015, 2:40 PM
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Sure, it was a slum. No argument here! I just think the best way to deal with slums is revitalization and selective demolition, rather than indiscriminately clearing out a whole area and bulldozing the good with the bad.
So where should the many thousands of square feet of office and commercial space that Scotia Square represents have been built? Fairview? Spryfield? "Revitalization" of a bunch of old wood-frame 2 storey tenements would have been rather a hard sell, don't you think? Not to say SS is the ideal solution either, but certainly it transformed d/t Halifax in a way that keeping those old places would never have done.

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A mid-century public housing project, on the other hand, is a whole other beast, and I'd be happy to see Uniacke Square (as one example) redeveloped Regent Park-style.
No disagreement there. Uniacke Square and Mulgrave Park are both going to be big challenges in the years to come.
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  #64  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2015, 2:51 PM
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Mulgrave park, When it was Shiny and New
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  #65  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2015, 2:59 PM
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Here's a view of the Cleared Area. I believe this was the original intended scope of the Scotia Square Developments, though the proposals variously expanded the area.

This is an interesting shot in regard to the street network which was still temporarily in use for parking, etc., along with moving around. I notice that there does not appear to have ever been a direct connection on Cogswell to Barrington and Hollis. It seems to end at Brunswick. I never knew that (assuming that is correct).

Also, I wonder if the original intent was to retain the existing structures on the West side of Barrington at the corner of Duke (across from City Hall)? It may or may not have, I don't know, but this shows them still there.

Last edited by Keith P.; Apr 28, 2015 at 3:22 PM.
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  #66  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2015, 3:16 PM
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Originally Posted by OldDartmouthMark View Post
To sum up, there's no question that the whole Africville situation was appalling on many levels, and I'm sure a good portion of this was racially motivated, but I also don't think it's fair to cast off what happened in other neighborhoods as being inconsequential, since the actions and results to the residents were similar in both cases.

In my opinion, for the sake of fairness, I think that we should try to look at all situations with the same 20-20 hindsight and throw away the rose-coloured glasses. Our goal should be historical accuracy considered from many perspectives, IMHO.

Hopefully we never repeat the mistakes of the past.

Please note that my intention is not to spark a debate on Africville but to hopefully try to add some context to this thread.

I think you make some good points and I recommend that anyone preparing to comment further on this first go back and read the Stevenson report from 1957 where he discusses Africville. In contrast to the rewriting of history that has happened in recent years regarding that issue, it is clear from reading his report that the intentions were good and the facts he portrays in the report the best that were known at the time in regard to ownership of land in the area, etc. It came down to making people realize that the city had to do something with the area, and his recommendations were the best that he could come up with given the constraints and plans known at the time.
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  #67  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2015, 3:28 PM
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Originally Posted by OldDartmouthMark View Post
I'm sure that racial discrimination plagued all of these neighborhoods, as it had (and continues to) in neighbourhoods worldwide. Remember that racism is not a unique characteristic of Halifax, in fact Nova Scotia was considered a safe haven for people of African lineage escaping slavery from the southern US back in those times. This is how Africville itself received its start.

Also, I think you are trying to bolster your argument by making an unfair generalization in calling areas other than Africville "transient slum neighborhoods". I'm sure there were transient people in all areas, but there were also families who lived there for many reasons, financial being one of them. Regardless, it was "home" to them, it was their community. So, although you can't put a definite racial spin on this situation, there was discrimination happening towards the "slums" (perhaps based more on financial situation than anything). It would be difficult to try to deny that the "slum" neighbourhood received treatment that was different than more affluent areas of the city.
Don't get me wrong, I'm the first to call BS when people try to insinuate that Halifax is somehow more racist than other cities, or pull out the old Mississippi-of-the-North nonsense.

But I will stand by the idea that Africville was different from other neighbourhoods. In the first place, it wasn't really a neighbourhood--it was well within the city boundaries but for most of its history was far from what would be described as the city proper, and functioned as an independent village.

And while there were African-Nova Scotians and people of many ethnicities in the central slum areas, Africville was a racial monoculture, which again, gives it a distinct sense of identity.

And finally, Africville had been there for well over a century. It was a place where people's parents and grandparents and great-grandparents had been born and died. I think it's pretty inarguable that Africville was a distinct community from other poor neighbourhoods.

I'm sure the intentions of the city fathers were very good and noble, but they were rooted in a fundamentally paternalistic (and yes, racist) culture. We shouldn't demonize those who drew up the plans, but we should be able to acknowledge that they were, as we now understand it, mistaken. That's just rewriting history, it's understanding it.
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  #68  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2015, 3:39 PM
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So where should the many thousands of square feet of office and commercial space that Scotia Square represents have been built? Fairview? Spryfield? "Revitalization" of a bunch of old wood-frame 2 storey tenements would have been rather a hard sell, don't you think? Not to say SS is the ideal solution either, but certainly it transformed d/t Halifax in a way that keeping those old places would never have done.

I'm not even upset about Scotia Square (though I wish it was better designed). It's the wasted space represented by the interchange that really gets me. It's basically nothing where once there was something.

Obviously the city needs ongoing renewal of its building stock, and sometimes that means taking down old buildings. But we went way too far with that strategy (which is why I'm VERY leery today about taking down anything that survived that era--we demolished enough in ten years for a century's worth of demolitions, I think.)
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  #69  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2015, 4:28 PM
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This is an interesting shot in regard to the street network which was still temporarily in use for parking, etc., along with moving around. I notice that there does not appear to have ever been a direct connection on Cogswell to Barrington and Hollis. It seems to end at Brunswick. I never knew that (assuming that is correct).

Also, I wonder if the original intent was to retain the existing structures on the West side of Barrington at the corner of Duke (across from City Hall)? It may or may not have, I don't know, but this shows them still there.
the Hopkins atlas of 1878 shows cogswell ending at brunswick. - See the plat at NSARM below.
http://novascotia.ca/archives/virtua...plate.asp?ID=4

the original scope for Scotia Square was for the cleared lands as shown. the various proposals made arguments for expanding the site, and included cogswell extensions since the existing east west streets would be obliterated.

the requirement for Cogswell to come down to barrington was a requirement in the contract for Scotia Square, hence why that section of harbour drive was built.
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  #70  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2015, 4:42 PM
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Scotia Square was not a failure at the time it was built. It was full all the time, had a major department store and a supermarket as well as 2 levels of stores, mall jammed pack most of the time, like Eaton Center in Toronto without the atrium.
So the real problem has been the lack of new construction in downtown Halifax for all these decades, with a lack of effort to maintain the center of the city.
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  #71  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2015, 6:10 PM
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Scotia Square was not a failure at the time it was built. It was full all the time, had a major department store and a supermarket as well as 2 levels of stores, mall jammed pack most of the time, like Eaton Center in Toronto without the atrium.
So the real problem has been the lack of new construction in downtown Halifax for all these decades, with a lack of effort to maintain the center of the city.
I tend to agree. The office space has also undeniably been a success. It's important to remember that the mall is about 50 years old and the space itself hasn't really changed a whole lot during that time. In Toronto, if a mall becomes dated and declines, people say it's a crappy mall. In Halifax, if a mall starts dying after decades of neglect people say the economy is bad.

I also agree that Cogswell is the source of most of the problems. Even the ugly exterior of Scotia Square is partly related to Cogswell; there's little incentive to improve most sides of the complex because they front onto what's more or less a highway or parking lot.

One alternate plan for that end of downtown would have been more selective demolition and office towers with smaller footprints. It also would have been possible to invest more money in transit and less money in highways. I think a transit tunnel downtown (for rail or buses) would have been a lot more useful than the interchange and widened Barrington Street, for example. The truck traffic should also be going through the rail cut or Point Pleasant Drive (which has about 20-30 houses on it) then over the Northwest Arm, not through the whole core of the city.
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  #72  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2015, 8:02 PM
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Lately I have been beginning to wonder if one of the factors that has contributed to the failure of downtown malls (along with changing consumer preferences, the rise of suburban shopping, etc.) relates to the layout and the size of the retail spaces. In Park Lane (and the former Maritime Centre) most of the spaces are small, verging on tiny. Part of the reason for this is that the property is quite narrow. It would be very expensive to do major renovations (and I think Keith previously pointed out that this and other malls are owned by Crombie REIT which may be reluctant to invest in upgrades). Apart from Cleve's and a couple other spaces it is poorly configured for bigger stores. Without renovating the entire main floor it will be very hard to find a major retailer, even one that would require a smaller space, to open there because it is so out of date. I think when it opened it was designed to be more "boutique-y", meaning smaller, upscale, niche stores. Now most of those have moved out while a few hang on. It's beginning to remind me a bit of Tinsel Town in Vancouver.

On the flip side the Scotia Square food court was recently renovated and looks great. It's packed all the time with office workers and students and I bet a lot of the people that eat there would support new and better stores.
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  #73  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2015, 8:17 PM
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I wonder if we should be criticizing the greedy landlords who demand very high rents, such that a tenant is working mainly to pay rent with little left over for all the effort.
I understand that landlords have costs as well but empty stores pay no rent and reduce the attractiveness of the mall. Most of the malls under discussion are old and the costs should be less than new construction.
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  #74  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2015, 9:58 PM
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Lately I have been beginning to wonder if one of the factors that has contributed to the failure of downtown malls (along with changing consumer preferences, the rise of suburban shopping, etc.) relates to the layout and the size of the retail spaces. In Park Lane (and the former Maritime Centre) most of the spaces are small, verging on tiny. Part of the reason for this is that the property is quite narrow. It would be very expensive to do major renovations (and I think Keith previously pointed out that this and other malls are owned by Crombie REIT which may be reluctant to invest in upgrades). Apart from Cleve's and a couple other spaces it is poorly configured for bigger stores. Without renovating the entire main floor it will be very hard to find a major retailer, even one that would require a smaller space, to open there because it is so out of date. I think when it opened it was designed to be more "boutique-y", meaning smaller, upscale, niche stores. Now most of those have moved out while a few hang on. It's beginning to remind me a bit of Tinsel Town in Vancouver.
I've read a few similar comments about storefront spaces in Halifax from the business associations, etc. Supposedly there are major retailers who have wanted to set up shop along streets like Spring Garden Road but have been unable to find suitable spaces. There's little in the way of large, visible retail spaces in downtown Halifax.

Barrington Espace is one newer exception, and it now has a major tenant. The new Roy may turn out to be similar, along with the Maple condos (hopefully it's got some big storefront spaces and not a rabbit-warren-like series of little shops and offices on multiple floors). It'll be interesting to see what happens in those retail spaces.
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  #75  
Old Posted Apr 29, 2015, 3:00 AM
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This is an interesting shot in regard to the street network which was still temporarily in use for parking, etc., along with moving around. I notice that there does not appear to have ever been a direct connection on Cogswell to Barrington and Hollis. It seems to end at Brunswick. I never knew that (assuming that is correct).
Yes, that is correct. The street layout in 1962 is shown in this picture on the following website - http://www.halifaxhistory.ca/other-photo.html



In the report posted by OldDartmouthMark, https://www.halifax.ca/archives/docu...Scotia1957.pdf, the following realignment of Jacobs Street/Cogswell Street-extension was proposed:




However, the Cogswell Exchange was built instead and the Cogswell extension followed a straighter route to Barrington Street.
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  #76  
Old Posted Apr 29, 2015, 1:39 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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A few more pics from the Halifax archives site, from an article about the archives:

http://www.halifax.ca/archives/Redis...rchildhood.php







There may be larger versions available online, but I haven't found them yet.
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  #77  
Old Posted Apr 29, 2015, 1:56 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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For reference, Halifax has a zoomable map from 1910 on their archives site:

http://www.halifax.ca/archives/1910MapofHalifax.php

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  #78  
Old Posted Apr 29, 2015, 3:10 PM
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Originally Posted by OldDartmouthMark View Post
For reference, Halifax has a zoomable map from 1910 on their archives site:

http://www.halifax.ca/archives/1910MapofHalifax.php

Great map! I found it interesting that my own street is on there in its current layout, even though most of the homes including my own were not building until just after WWI. Someone told me recently though that one of the homes on my block was actually a farmhouse at one point, which clearly then pre-dates the development of the rest of the homes in the area.
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  #79  
Old Posted Apr 30, 2015, 5:14 PM
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I notice that there does not appear to have ever been a direct connection on Cogswell to Barrington and Hollis. It seems to end at Brunswick. I never knew that (assuming that is correct).
As others have shared, Cogswell did indeed dead end at Brunswick. There is an interesting photo -- will see if I can find it -- of a mishap in the 40's, where a runaway tram lost its brakes on Cogswell Street. The tram careered down the street, crashing into a café at the foot of the hill on Brunswick. I remember being confused when I saw the photo, wondering why there was a café in the middle of the intersection.

That the intersection was a T not a + makes all the difference, of course.

Fortunately the motorman and passengers bailed out of the tram and were unhurt but, as I recall, a couple of people in the building were injured, including an infant sleeping in the second floor apartment, which the trolley pole penetrated.
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Old Posted May 1, 2015, 9:19 AM
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There is an interesting photo -- will see if I can find it -- of a mishap in the 40's, where a runaway tram lost its brakes on Cogswell Street.
Here's the photo, from Don Cunningham and Don Artz' wonderful book, The Halifax Street Railway: 1866-1949 (Nimbus, 2009). NSLP tram 136 (route 5, Armdale-Railway Station) lost power on Cogswell at North Park and rolled the six blocks to Brunswick, where it jumped the track and crashed into the Boston Cafe. The date was July 22, 1945. The location is the east side of the Cogswell/Brunswick intersection, where Cogswell now continues down to the interchange.

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