Monday, September 30, 2013

Bronson reopens for the last time

After two years of construction, Bronson Avenue reopens to through traffic today, whereas it had been closed between Laurier and Somerset (the headline of the linked PSA wrongly states Gladstone). I thought I'd post some snapshots to summarize the progress.

As with last year, the reopening isn't necessarily something to celebrate, as Bronson will no doubt return to its status as a traffic sewer for hasty drivers with little or no connection to Centretown, the roadway is the same width as before the reconstruction (despite the Community's strong desire to get it rebuilt otherwise), but without all the potholes to slow them down. There will hopefully be some degree of relief on the side streets which have been host to cut-through traffic when Bronson was closed.

Recall how disruptive the closure was to road users of all modes. Not only did it disrupt the patterns of people who were just passing through, but when the intersection of Somerset and Bronson was closed, bus riders had quite a walk to get to the nearest bus stop. Customer traffic to the businesses along Bronson slowed to a trickle when Gladstone was closed. There were some attempts to maintain temporary sidewalks for pedestrians also, as seen here in the muddy mess of a street, looking north along the former east sidewalk:

Friday, September 27, 2013

Autumn in Centretown

The brown-tinged leaves of the ginkgo tree are one of the signs of fall.

As you could probably tell, though, this photo isn't from the current season, with the tower crane for the Centropolis condos in the background. It's from mid-October 2011, so we still have some time to enjoy a touch of good weather here or there. And even in mid-October, the flower shop/café had its patio chairs set out.

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Peds on Weds: What they were thinking

On Monday, Eric Darwin posted a rhetorical question on his blog—What were they thinking?—in reference to some sidewalk work at the Delta Ottawa City Centre on Lyon Street. As it happens, the question does have an answer, and it involves a deeper look (literally) than how the sidewalk looks now.

Here's a photo of the hotel in March 2012, seen from under the walkway which connects the East and West Memorial buildings. The building with the orange tarp in front, also reflected in the glass façade of Constitution Square, is the Delta Ottawa City Centre hotel, originally opened as the Skyline Hotel in 1967 and most recently known as the Crowne Plaza.

In September 2011, I had a post with my photos of the Crowne Plaza taken in recent years. This was in immediate response to posts on West Side Action (since removed?) and on Urbsite about the demolition that had just started on the entranceway. The Urbsite post has a rich history of the building, including construction photos.

The important bit for the purposes of this post, however, is that the entrance used to have a ramp to a second-storey doorway with a heavy canopy above it. The ramp went up from Albert Street and came down on Queen Street. If you zoom in, you can see the slope of the sidewalk along Queen Street:

Monday, September 23, 2013

Metcalfe Boulevard loses another

I had previously blogged about the "surivivor" trees on Metcalfe which managed to grow despite being in a narrow strip of ground between a sidewalk and a four-lane roadway, both of which are drowned in salt in the wintertime. Unfortunately, due to the Emerald Ash Borer infestation, the ash trees among this group have succumbed. Here's the stump of one tree which had made it to a decent trunk size:

Here's that tree a month ago before they cut it down (barely). It had grown to four or five storeys tall, surviving thousands and thousands of cars passing by, but in the end it was done in by a little beetle. The Elphin apartments on Gladstone and the Museum of Nature are in the background.

Here's another shot of the same tree, in winter after a snowstorm this past February. If it weren't still summer, I'd have used this photo at the start of the blog post but I wouldn't want to startle you!

The City will likely plant a new tree, one of the little "Charlie Brown Christmas" trees like the ones planted further up Metcalfe. I hear the tree-planting crews are already fully booked for the fall plantings, so a replacement probably won't be planted until Spring. Assuming it survives, the new tree of course won't be as big as the one that died for decades. Due to the EAB, this story will be repeated many times across Ottawa.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Summer sunset

After my summer hiatus, I started with a post from the north-west corner of Centretown. As the summer comes to an end itself, it seems fitting to post this photo of the opposite corner, looking south-west from the Museum of Nature's east parking lot. Aside from the very pretty pink clouds, the skyline is populated by 467 Elgin, the Ottawa Police headquarters at 474 Elgin, and the small office building at 100 Argyle.

This past Monday, the Museum of Nature had a meeting about the future of its west parking lot. I'm composing this before the meeting, but presumably they are presenting the latest iteration of their plan to renege on their promise to reinstate the west lawn as a public park. They promise to post the latest plans to

By the way, you can see my three-part tour of the Museum of Nature as it appeared on the day it reopened after years of construction. Start your tour with part 1.

P.S.: Speaking of sunsets, don't forget about the second edition of Nuit Blanche Ottawa Gatineau tomorrow night, 6:21pm to 4:22am!

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Thursday, September 19, 2013

3D Thursday: Darkness

Back in mid-May, before the finishing touches were done on the O-Train pathway, I swung by at night and took some photos. I had my tripod with me and some time, so I thought I'd see if I could get the right shots for some 3D photos. I think they turned out pretty well.

This one is of the stairs leading down to Louisa Street off the pathway. The railing had just been installed: (click on the image to see it larger, you can even make out the depth of the blades of grass!)

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

When you're using one camera to take two exposures for a 3D shot, it's difficult enough in the daytime. The colours or lighting levels don't always match, you need to make sure the subject is stationary, and that the camera location is moved enough to have an effect, but not too much to spoil it. At nighttime, it's even harder. Night photos all but demand a tripod, and my point-and-shoot cameras aren't always consistent in producing the same settings for the same shot.

At the time, they were making rapid progress on installing the ramp in the sidewalk along the Somerset Street viaduct where the pathway comes uphill to meet it, so that cyclists could safely cross the sidewalk. They had left it for the night with the rebar installed and a fence segment laid over it, for safety I guess. This provides a great contrast of depths that works really well in 3D photos.

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

While I wanted to come back to take a 3D photo the next day, I knew that there was a good chance they'd have poured the concrete, so I went ahead and poked my camera through the construction fence, held it still as best as I could, and took a photo. Then I poked it through the next hole over and did it again. And it turned out pretty good!

As it happened, I had to go by there anyway the next day, and they hadn't yet poured the concrete! But it was a good thing I had taken the photo the night before as I was in a hurry and could only snap a quick photo or two from across the street:

I hope you're enjoying the O-Train pathway, especially now that the O-Train is back in service!

[Tune in on Thursdays at noon for a new 3D image. View the 3D label for other posts with 3D images. 3D FAQ]

Monday, September 16, 2013

Movie fans visiting World Exchange Theatre tonight

The World Exchange Centre is a shopping centre/office/parking complex that covers the entire block surrounded by Albert, Metcalfe, Queen and O'Connor streets. The complex includes two office towers (TD tower, built in 1991, and 100 Queen, built in 2001), a rooftop clock, a shopping centre (The World Exchange Plaza, also built in 1991, in which is the NCC's infocentre kiosk), a five-storey underground parking garage and a public plaza on the Metcalfe end:

The Plaza also contains Ottawa's last first-run downtown movie theatre, now that the cinemas are closed at the Rideau Centre. With Empire getting out of the cinema business, a new operator is being sought, with uncertain prospects. (More on this further down)

Tonight, people who want to see the theatre stay open are being encouraged to join a Fill The Theatre event to see the 6:30pm screening of the film "The Family" starring Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones and Michelle Pfeiffer. They also have a Facebook group to promote the cause.

Anyhow, back to the building...

Thursday, September 12, 2013

3D Thursday: Accessible McNabb

McNabb Park Community Centre has been having some work done on the front of the building (although the "front" is set far back from Percy Street). I believe they're installing an accessibility lift to provide access to the basement and main floor, so you don't have to wheel yourself up the long ramp.

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

Incidentally, there is an ongoing public consultation on the redevelopment of McNabb Park.

I took the above photo on my way home from purchasing my new camera, a waterproof Sony Cybershot the size of a small wallet. It ostensibly has a "3D mode" which uses software to extrapolate depth information from multiple rapid exposures at different focus settings, but the "3D" photo it creates is very shallow, and doesn't beat exposures from two separate points.

I had two cameras of the previous model I used (a Pentax Optio W series) which allowed me to take two simultaneous photos side-by-side. This meant I could take photos of moving objects and people (like so), but so far I only have the one Sony camera, which will limit my 3D photo-taking opportunities. Luckily I have a lot of them banked up.

[Tune in on Thursdays at noon for a new 3D image. View the 3D label for other posts with 3D images. 3D FAQ] [Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Monday, September 9, 2013

Wings over North Centretown

Sorry I haven't been posting for a while. In June and July I was busy with Bluesfest, and at the end of July I lost two months' worth of photos to a massive hard disk failure.

So that kind of set me back a bit. Plus: hey, it's summer! But as things return to 'normal' I figured I should try to get my blog schedule back on track. I'll start off easy.

Here's a photo of the north-west sector of Centretown (the first definition here), looking east on Nepean Street from the hill near Bronson Avenue. At the upper-right, you can see the biplane that is another sign of summer:

Straight ahead is Centennial Public School, which had 21 trees planted earlier this summer thanks to the CCCA's Trees & Greenspace Committee, which worked to get the City of Ottawa to plant them.

Beyond that is May Nickson Place, a red-brick Ottawa Community Housing highrise on Gloucester Street, which will be sandwiched by even taller condos under construction on either side (the tower crane is for 224 Lyon).

Beyond that is the steeple of St. Patrick's Basilica, which is flanked by two CCOC towers at 210 Gloucester and the corresponding address on Nepean. The sides of those buildings blend into the Place Bell behemoth at 160 Elgin Street, which also has two highrise developments under construction on either side, although these are across the street.

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]