Friday, October 31, 2008

Halowe'en in Centretown

I've got a bunch of Hallowe'en-related photos that I'd like to share. At Lansdowne park a while ago, there was a Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tube Man ghost, which made me laugh:

Centretown is great for Hallowe'en, with all its old buildings. We've got dark character-filled alleyways:

We've got old Victorian houses with full moons hiding behind them:

We've got a haunted, 150-year-old high school:

And a spooky, castle-like museum (repost):

Heck, they even installed lights recently under Pretoria Bridge for those who are afraid of the dark!

One household on Florence has done a great job decorating their yard for Hallowe'en. Here's a day shot, so you can see what's going on (as always, click a photo to view full size). The inflated ghost has a clear stomach with little bats flying around a black cat. Very cute!

Here's the same display at night:

And as if City Hall didn't scare you already, the windows on the Elgin Street side of City Hall's Heritage Building were all populated with jack-o-lanterns, seen through the gates surrounding the Human Rights memorial which is being renovated:

I'll be out around Centretown and haunting the Glebe tonight.

Have a Happy and fun Hallowe'en!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Organic (vegan optional) Pizza comes to Centretown!

At the family Thanksgiving dinner, one of my quasi-relatives exhorted the availability of vegan pizza at the pizza place on Kent and Florence, across from the new Chinese community centre.

I recognized the place that she was referring to, but I didn't realize that it had changed from the former tenant, Paesano's Pizza. It wasn't until a walk about Centretown last night that I realized it was a new place--"The Place".

Here's a shot from across the street. Unfortunately the sign is overexposed so you can't see it:

Here's a daytime shot from today. The sign reads, "The Place / Organic Pizza / Now Open":

I went inside to pick up a menu and found a familiar face. I chatted with the owner, an ardent supporter of small business. The Place has been open for a month and three days, and they don't have delivery yet.

They also have pizza by the slice at luch hour, though my office is a bit far from there to try it out.

For reference, here's a shot from early September of the former Paesano's pizza:

I have a regular Sunday dinner, so I didn't have a chance to try The Place's pizza, but I will do so to support organic options, and to support small business in Centretown!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bank Street reconstruction in 18 photos

The first piece of street furniture has been installed on Bank Street between Laurier and Somerset, and it inspired me to finally post some photos of the construction. I've managed to pare down my 325 photos of this phase to 18 for this post. I definitely have a sufficient variety of photos for more follow-up posts.

Anyway, the reason I was inspired to post was because this particular piece of street furniture--a bench--is particularly disgusting.

During the open house for the street design, the there was a proposal for a face-to-face bench, which would allow people to meet while discouraging homeless people from sleeping on the bench (not a goal I value highly). As seen in the centre of this display board, the proposed bench design was sturdy and had character:

Instead, we got the flimsy cafeteria-chair design pictured below. Not only is it unwelcoming as a bench, but I couldn't imagine sitting and chatting with someone on it in the remotest amount of comfort:

It is possible (though not likely) that this will be replaced by the comprehensive street furniture project (unlikely because the street furniture for this project was developed for Bank Street specifically).

Anyway, on to the photos from the construction. First is a mostly "before" picture from early June looking North from Bank and Lisgar. We can see what Bank Street used to look like, how wide and decrepit the sidewalks were.

Next is a shot from mid-June looking South from Cooper with a bulldozer pointing down a slope into the ground in front of Henry's camera shop. In the back we can see the building at Bank and Somerset that had two fires (I will post some photos of that later, as I have already promised to do):

Below we see a late-June dusk shot of a pile of old railroad ties unearthed from beneath the street. I presume they were thrown out, which is kind of unfortunate:

Next is a shot of Bank and Somerset after the big hole in the ground was paved over and painted. The sky still had some light in it at 9:30 pm. My how the seasons change quickly!

On July 2nd, a couple of workers are in a pit, connecting up some water mains. The square nub at the top of the red connector is to shut off the water main from a hole in the surface:

Next is a great perspective shot from mid-July looking straight down Bank Street from Laurier. There isn't much to see construction-wise, but the centred horizon really attracts the eye:

Here is a form for a concrete block that will sit under the surface at Bank and Somerset. To be honest, I'm not quite sure what it's for...

This little pigeon has had a rough life. It looked either sick or injured. But it still scrapped along in this early August shot at Cooper:

In early August, they had finished with the centre of the road and moved on to work on the sidewalks. But to maintain access to the stores, fenced walkways were erected at each entrance. It looked a bit of an obstacle course, but really the wide central vista made for a rather enjoyable pedestrian walkway.

In mid-September, work on the East sidewalk at Bank and Somerset had to be suspended while the first fire was investigated. The area was cleared and the sidewalk was completed before the second fire struck and closed the corner again two weeks later. Here's a shot from the day of the first fire:

At 1pm on a weekday in mid-September, the sidewalk was quite bustling between Laurier and Gloucester, while construction workers use the temporarily-paved road to park their vehicles. Good thing the rebuilt Bank Street has wider sidewalks!

Pipes stick out from the middle of the hole at Lisgar on the same day. In order to collect the drainage from the basements of the surrounding buildings, the pipes must go pretty deep!

Again on the same day, a construction worker takes time to help an elderly woman cross the gravel intersection:

...and an assembly-line of workers get the sidewalk ready:

Here's what the mostly-finished sidewalks look like today between Lisgar and Nepean. They're much wider and less cluttered than before!

As much as I enjoy construction, and enjoy a car-free Bank Street, it will be nice for this section to reopen and see the next stretch get rebuilt!

Which reminds me: a gratuitous 19th photo--they've patched some of the worst spots on Bank Street between Gladstone and James. I've already sent a thank-you note to the City for patching this stretch I navigate every morning!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Video of the Union railway, pre-Colonel By Parkway

Drumbent tipped me off to this 1965 Buster Keaton clip of "The Railrodder" (sic--think "hot rod"). In clip 2 of the film, Buster is seen riding his rail car along the Rideau Canal, under the Laurier bridge, toward Union Station and past Parliament Hill.

Exciting to see what it was like before it all got paved over!

Compare this shot with Laurier bridge and the Chateau Laurier in the background from 1965:

With this shot from 2005 at the start of the construction of the Corktown Footbridge:

Quite a bit has changed! More trees, but also more big ugly buildings (plus the U of O's Desmarais building which has gone up since)

Will rail ever make a comeback, I wonder?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Centretown Free Market @ Minto Park this Sunday

I picked up a small flyer for the Centretown Free Market, happening this Sunday, October 5, 2008, 11am-4pm at Minto Park, and I see a poster for it in the Bridgehead where I am writing this post. Both have really nice designs, but unfortunately the website ( doesn't have either.

Minto Park, for those of you who don't know, is the park across the street from the Elgin Street Public School, bordered by Elgin, Gilmour, Cartier, and Lewis. It has a number of monuments, including the monument to women abused and murdered by men (photo available at the Wikipedia article on Minto Park) Here's a nice shot of the park from Elgin Street. It's from last week, just as the leaves started to change colour:

I lived a half a block away from Minto Park for a year, and one of my roommates thought the park's name was bought by Minto Group, the development company that built the gigantic tower near Westboro bus station. But I believe it was actually named after Governor General Minto.

One could be forgiven for not knowing the park's name, because the park didn't have a sign until this one was installed this past May:

I enjoy going to the park in the summer to eat my lunch and get away from my over-air-conditioned office. Only a couple of spots on the park benches and picnic tables are in the sun.

As for the story about the sign, that's one for another day, but I'll give a preview: it involves Dundonald Park and this old signpost in Minto Park:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Double-decker tour bus repair (June 2008)

Back in early June, I was up at Elgin and Sparks when I came upon this odd sight:

It was a Lady Dive tour bus, apparently being readied to be towed.

One thing that struck me, though, was the very small amount of clearance between the rear bumper and the pavement. I was really curious as to how seriously they were planning on towing the thing.

But when I went around the other side, it became clear why the bus was lifted so high. Can you see the reason? (You may need to click on the photo to see the full-sized image)