Marquis de Lorne Bridge, Crossing The Bow River along Stoney Trail, looking North. Photo by Trevor Brown, trevorgbphotography88
It’s not a stretch to think of The Deep South as an island. Hacked off from the rest of the city by the Bow River to the east and Fish Creek Park to the north, provincially-regulated land, there will always be a sense of isolation to the area. I think area residents have always relished this to some extent, though for various reasons we’ve also needed to connect to the rest of the city and province. Naturally, the most basic way to do this is with a bridge. After reading enough about pioneer families in the area who had to “ford” the rivers, being at the whim of the seasons and the water levels, you realize how lucky we are to have a bridge. And unlike a real island like PEI, where the Confederation Bridge linking it to the mainland was controversial for over a century, over time there have been a large number and variety of bridges built in Deep South Calgary: assorted passenger bridges across the Fish Creek as well as the Bow River, and of course, the Marquis de Lorne Bridge connecting the Deep South and South East along Stoney Trail, and the 37th Street Bridge crossing Fish Creek in the West, infamously one-lane into the late 1990s. But I think the most interesting are the various crossings of Fish Creek near Macleod Trail.
Continue reading Landmarks- Bridges, Form and Function
Papercraft replica of the Alberta Wheat Pool Elevator in Midnapore in front of a copy of the Midnapore I Design Brief 1975. Papercraft elevator designed and built by Jim Pearson of Vanishing Sentinels. Available for purchase at http://vanishingalberta.ca/crbst_29.html
There’s something about grain elevators. It should only be fitting that the thing which kicked off this whole project was my pursuit of memories of the old Unifeed elevator. Looking back, these old buildings are emblematic of everything I’ve discussed here: changing times, urbanization and the ethereal meaning of landmarks. And while much of what I’m exploring in these articles has been largely ignored, elevators have been exhaustively explored by a whole assortment of people: writers, photographers, artists, teachers, academics, journalists. They have appeal.
From studying old Midnapore, and specifically the feed elevator demolished in 2004, it quickly became apparent that that elevator, a landmark for everyone I knew who grew up anywhere in The Deep South in the 1990s, wasn’t always alone beside the railroad tracks. A second smaller elevator occupied the space just north of the feed elevator, where Fish Creek Nissan is now. And this second elevator was actually older and arguably more iconic. Of course the “second elevator”, having been demolished in July 1989, before me or most of my family or friends lived in area, and with no evidence of it in the area, may as well have not existed at all. For my generation, memories of “the grain elevator” were for the Unifeed elevator. So what was this earlier elevator?
Continue reading Landmarks- The Midnapore Grain Elevator
Underside of Shawnessy Boulevard Overpass. Note the arches inspired by The Barn.
Bear with me here, I think I’ve got something.
Is there anything more urban than the overpass? From the multi-layered webs of interstates spinning at the apexes of American cities like Los Angeles and Denver, to the sky-high, seamlessly integrated trails running throughout megadense Tokyo, overpasses seem to be the purest signal of urbanism. Unlike the high-rise, or arguably public transit, there is no grandstanding of wealth, aesthetics or politics with them. Too expensive, too subtle yet disruptive, nobody builds one because they want to; they are a simple admission that there is enough traffic, of automobiles, trains or simply people, that we have to move into a third dimension to handle it adequately. As a sign of urbanism, they also embody all of that philosophy’s flaws and strengths, often at the same time: disrupting communities while also enhancing them; providing plans and amenities that otherwise couldn’t exist, while pissing people off when they fail to meet expectations or leave some people behind.
If the story of Midnapore and The Deep South is largely one of urbanization, then overpasses should be part of that story. Continue reading Overpasses- An Overview
The old Unifeed/ Shur-Gain elevator that stood by Macleod Trail in Millrise, heavily damaged from both demolition and graffiti, circa 2004. It was demolished in July of that year. Photo gallery link. Photo credit: Joshua Soles
Wow, this photo. For some reason I thought of the building in late 2011, and it took me nearly two years, until late 2013, to actually find a decent picture of it (and, seeing as how this was posted back in 2004, the whole scenario makes me seriously reconsider my internet skills. Then again, you can only handle so many links to mechanics in India, before you give up Googling “midnapore elevator” completely).
In the meantime, my initial search for the elevator had led me to read about the Ogden Grain Elevator, which had been demolished just a week before. Reading the discussion about that building’s history, landmark status, and whether or not it could have been saved, led me down a path of urban studies and local history that continues to this day in the works presented here. Beyond that, I didn’t have a lot of interaction with the building. I remember seeing it on car rides home as a kid, along with the spinning SOUTHSIDE SELF STORAGE neon sign, just south of it and barely visible in the photo above. I remember the big white building, with the orange stripe, and the writing on it. When my older brother had a hamster, our dad suggested he get feed there. I also remember seeing it from the Midlake/Shawnessy Boulevard overpass, while walking to A&B Sound to buy Clash and 54-40 CDs back in 2004. It was only a short distance away from that “purple warehouse”, and in retrospect , I wish I had gone to take a closer look. Because a few months later, it was torn down.
Continue reading Landmarks- The Feed Elevator
“There are a dozen cities where one might choose to grow old, their literary homecomings thick with temptation. Those are the places that seethe with pilgrims, where postcard racks adorn sidewalks and the same bells have rung for centuries, tours of significant sites available hourly. But those cities tastes of their own indigestion, wield a language lethargic with habit. They are complacent; their bones crack when they shift”- Requiem (excerpt), Aritha van Herk from In This Place (2011)
Is there a better description of everything the Canadian city of Calgary, Alberta is not? Dynamic, with seemingly boundless growth and aspiration, the city’s “Be Part of the Energy” campaign goes far beyond the region’s strong relationship to the oil & gas industry, to deeply reflect its identity. But beyond the reverential tone of Requiem’s opening stanza, beyond the sense of gratitude Calgarians surely have for the economic windfall of a place which can afford to be so busy and constantly reinvent itself, there emerges a concern for what is lost and a desire to understand what is happening. As van Herk continues,
Continue reading Landmarks- Empty Spaces