Monday, July 02, 2007


James Kunstler's always amusing and profound eyesore of the month has a selection for July--an environmentally-friendly parkade in California--which shows that the popular Green Movement has officially become North America's new excuse for both continuing to destroy cities and towns with garbage architecture, and continuing to pollute the earth with tailpipe emissions as never before.


Winnipeg historian and blogger of I, ectomorph fame, Andrew, presents a stunning aerial photograph of Winnipeg in 1928 that shows a large chunk of what was the central business district south-east of Portage and Main that is virtually non-existant today. He writes: "Any smugness one might feel about Winnipeg's preservation of its historical buildings is kind of deflated by this. I remember when they demolished that entire block of Main Street south of Portage all at once, to be replaced with nothing. Not to say that it looked that great by the 70s, but if you could imagine it restored in the way that Princess Street has been restored, the city would have an amenity worth a lot more than a crappy looking office tower (and a whole block's worth of ventilation shafts and emergency exits from the underground mall). Also, this pic makes the demolition of the TD-Childs-Nanton corner appear to verge on the criminal. The irony is that most of that office space wasn't really needed anyway. TD was gone from the city within a few years.

I think the lesson is that when you build a few buildings that are totally out of scale with the rest of the city, you can end up making the whole look smaller rather than larger."

Indeed, unlike the dozens of buildings they replaced, the five or six modern buildings at Portage and Main weren't built in response to high land values, or the growing need for a greater concentration of office space, but simply because of the city's post-war pre-occupation with winning that golden ticket, the big score, the magic tenant, and with being "like other cities." It was this kind of unreal thinking that allowed what would today be a southern half of the Exchange District to be demolished--even into the late '80s and early '90s.

Large version


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