Sunday, December 21, 2008

Centretown, darkly, under snow

Winter has come to Centretown, and with that come earlier nights. I've acquired a nice compact tripod, which has allowed me to make some quite stunning night shots.

Here's a shot of "CENTRETOWN" written in the snow in early December in the garden at Bridgehead on Elgin. I had inscribed this the day before, and was surprised and interested at the way it had survived:

This shot of Bank Street, looking Northward from Nepean toward the unfinished Mondrian building, was taken before it opened back up to traffic. Just some finishing touches were left to be done on November 27, three days before it officially re-opened:

On December 9, we got quite a whammy downtown with the Chaudière bridge closed, a major snowfall, and a bus strike coming at midnight. While the streets were mostly bare of traffic by 9:30 pm, I plopped my tripod in the snowbank outside of Hartman's and took a few shots of the snowy Bank Street, first looking North to the intersection:

And then South down the street:

Two nights later (by coincidence, also at 9:30 pm), I was at the Bank/MacLaren bridgehead when the big machines came to take the snow away. I stepped out and took some photos from the opposite corner (sans tripod). Incidentally, I'm currently posting this entry from that Bridgehead. They've brought back the one-hour limit on the wireless, which is annoying, as it takes me well over an hour to compose each post.

I'm not sure if the snow clearing department understands that people still ride bikes in the Winter. Indeed, the City is recommending it as one of various alternatives during the bus strike. It's a pity, then, that the relatively new cutout for bicycles on MacLaren at O'Connor wasn't cleared of snow when I last saw it:

While the Chaudière bridge has partially re-opened, the bus strike and the various snow events continue to impact people's (terrible) driving habits. A police cruiser was stationed on the sidewalk on Elgin and Laurier with its lights flashing, presumably as a reminder to pay attention and drive responsibly.

Snow and traffic aren't the only troubles that the cold spell has brought. On the evening of the 16th, on my way home from a CCCA meeting at City Hall, I noticed a crew fixing a broken water main under Bank Street at Gladstone. Luckily, it happened at night, and didn't require the whole street to be closed to repair, both of which were the case with when the water main broke under Elgin Street in May.

I broke out the tripod and took some nice shots:

The water was pumped out of the hole and was running around the corner. In the very cold weather, it was hardening into a slush, which was then molded by the tires of passing cars before freezing into ice:

A friend of mine recently decided to move to Vancouver. He invited a few of us over to his place after the weekly dinner to take some things off his hands. This was my first time in his apartment, and I was quite enamored by the view of Centretown from his balcony. I took a number of photos that night, plus a few shots a couple of days later in daytime. Let me tease you with a couple of them...

Here's Elgin Street between Cooper and Lisgar, including Dunn's and Pizza Pizza store (the recent expansion of which I documented in my last post). Ironically, my tripod was too short to see over the banister, so I rested my camera against the rail.

The snow crews were removing the snow from Somerset Street West, immediately below us, and I got some shots of them doing their work. This shot is my new desktop at work (as always, click the photo to enlarge), which also makes a good deterrent for potential computer thieves who suffer from vertigo!

If you have an apartment with a good view of Centretown, I'd LOVE to come over to take photos, day or night!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Pizza Pizza occupies former Shawarma STOP

(Note: a couple posts recently got mysteriously bumped to the top of the feed. Not sure why; I didn't do anything.)

My recent post with photos of the Aimee's Convenience Store Fire drew a lot of attention, which has inspired me to post again fairly quickly. Here's something that's ready to post:

I'm not a fan of Pizza Pizza (or any major chain pizzeria, especially when there are local, organic alternatives), nor do I like the idea of two small mainstreet stores being merged into one. But I am a sucker for construction.

This past fall, the Pizza Pizza on Elgin at Cooper engulfed the former Shawarma STOP next door. I remember when the Shawarma STOP opened; it was my first time seeing the words "falafel" or "shawarma". I also remember that my friend's description of both terms did not pique my interest.

Here's what the Shawarma Stop used to look like in early October, after closing but before much of the major construction. I found the Conservative political posters in the window (it was during the election campaign, after all) to be interesting for their '80s styling. Below is a shot from a bit further back, also showing the Pizza Pizza in its former dressing.

A week later, the Shawarma STOP's door had been converted to a window, indicating it would become part of the Pizza Pizza store next door. (The former Great Canadian Bagel at Lisgar recently had been similarly annexed by Johnny Farina's)

On the same day as the photo above, it was evident that work was underway inside:

The dressings for both stores (including the signs) were removed, and sheet rock was installed around the bottom of the storefront.

Incidentally, there's a neat sidewalk "feature" here at Cooper--a big hole in the concrete pavers, patched with black asphalt, with a spray-painted note saying "NO WALK". How inviting.

Tiles were added to the sheetrock that had been recently installed. These are slightly less garish than the bright orange-and-white tiles on the Pizza Pizza on Somerset and Bronson (not pictured).

Next was added some white styrofoam to give some form to the upper part of the storefront.

I was (masochistically) spending much of the day at City Hall on November 19 to watch the Transportation Committee discuss the Transportaion Master Plan and the Light Rail plan, catching a few hours at work as well. On my many trips between work and City Hall that day, I happened to catch the new Pizza Pizza sign being installed, and took a photo:

And by later that day, two of the three lit signs were installed:

After my last meeting at City Hall that night, I headed to Bridgehead for a reprieve. The darkness outside and the indoor lights gave an insight into the progress on the interior:

By December first, the last sign had not yet been installed, but they had painted the styrofoam and added some decorative lights (pretty tasteful, actually, for a Pizza Pizza), and new equipment was inside waiting to be installed.

Add some decorative awnings, and you're done!

(pardon the blurriness on this last shot, the weather hasn't quite cooperated enough for me to take a good shot of the finished product).

Let's hope the renovations included public washrooms. When attending Lisgar, my colleagues would be frustrated that they wouldn't let you use their washrooms, despite providing seating for patrons. (And this was apparently against a by-law, though I'm not sure which.)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ainee's Convenience Store fire

The Citizen reported on a fire this morning at a convenience store on Bronson, just South of the Queensway. Luckily, nobody was injured. While technically outside Centretown, I decided to check out the site this afternoon, just South of Drummond's Gas.

I approached via Renfrew, but there were emergency vehicles at the end of that street, so I went around by Imperial, to approach via the gas station. Interestingly some bits of burth stuff had accumulated along the curb as far away as the fork of Imperial and Chamberlain.

Coming down Bronson, one lane was blocked off with a tightly-packed perimeter of barricades. Traffic was flowing, but the bottleneck kept a steady northbound stream of traffic.

The Citizen photo doesn't do justice to the amount of damage in the fire (of course, they can only show so much with a single photo). While their photo helps you see what the building used to be, it doesn't quite convey that the roof of the building toppled down and you can now see through the building:

A front angle:

Another thing you don't see in the Citizen's photo is the second building at the back which also had its roof come down:

Here's a shot of all the debris on the sidewalk in front of the place:

And a wider shot for more Northbound context. It was difficult to get a clear shot, with the constant traffic squeezing through the single northbound lane:

The Citizen story says that an explosion triggered the fire. I'm not sure if that's related to why there were DVD cases across the street:

One other thing I remarked is the "Tim Horton's Opening Soon" sign in the window of the gas station next door. That'll give some relief to the people waiting at the bus stop:

It's always terrible to see buildings burn down. Let's hope something useful gets built there at the scale of the neighbourhood, and not another parking lot.

Incidentally, for those of you who can't believe the retro-style price of gas displayed above, maybe this will make it seem more believable:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Centretown includes culture

I'm pulling an all-nighter, so I'm a bit too tired to comment. Nevertheless, I hope you'll enjoy this brief pair of video clips from today's--er, yesterday's--rally at City Hall:

I'll be making my budget delegation tomorrow--er, in about five hours (hence the all-nighter).