Originally Posted by Chadillaccc
I wish I knew about what it was like 10 or 20 years ago by experience, but I can tell you that from my experience moving here 26 months ago, that things have even changed here since that time. I remember searching around downtown Calgary, hung over and in dire need of a bathroom and a drink, no one in sight, not one place open except for the timmies I eventually found. I think it was about 11 or noon at the time. Nowadays, even in the winter downtown has people walking around at all times of the day. It's obviously still busier on weekdays due to the 150 000+ office workers, but the core has shown marked improvement in liveliness over the last couple years, for sure. I think it has a lot to do with the improved image of the core, with developments like the River Walk, the Peace Bridge, and the beautification of 7th Avenue... just a lot of the public realm projects that made it such a more welcoming place... as well as, of course, the major increase in population seen in the Beltline.
As a life-long Calgarian (albeit a relatively young life) downtown Calgary has gotten exponentially busier. Particularly in the off-peak hours on Stephen Ave. 10 years ago it was very quiet, fewer restaurants and the ones that existed were more around the lunchtime crowd. Now the second busiest (and often busiest if there are a few concerts / conferences going on) is Thursday, friday and Saturday nights. Waaay more activity and options.
The river and Prince's Island have always been busy, but there is a very noticeable uptick around the Peace Bridge and the whole inner network as more people use it. Much much busier than when I was a kid (15 years ago).
The flow of pedestrians around and into the Beltline has also changed significantly. 17th Ave's holes have been filled (and more being filled with each new development). 10 years ago there was a vacant lot where Hanson's square is and the Shoppers / analog area around 7th street was much more vacant with shabby corner stores. Tompkins Park was for drug-buying and not much else. Now it is a hive of activity, buskers, Fro-yo frequenters, newspaper readers and coffee drinkers. That entire area changed little physically, just the level of activity increased significantly.
Many, many more bicycles than I remember too. Particularly on the few bicycle lanes we have really have concentrated a reliable stream of cyclists downtown. Only more to come with the new network.