The thing you always need to remember about Calgary is that it is one city. Though it is divided up into wards, and police precincts and communities, there are no equal, competing political offices like with most big cities. This was not by chance or circumstance- for many years The City of Calgary was intent on maintaining a non-metropolitan, unicity model to control development from a single central government. After World War II, the unicity model was combined with a suburban sprawl philosophy, leading the city to annex more land for both growth and control. This was evident in the treatment of Midnapore. Had Calgary not annexed the area, the city would have inevitably been hemmed in to the south by Fish Creek- besides the growth in lot sales and development in the hamlet after World War II, the Burns family had plans to develop their land holdings south of Fish Creek, where the community of Midnapore lies today. These plans were blocked in 1956 by the Calgary District Planning Commission, whose members decided such satellite communities were not in the area’s best interest. In 1961 Calgary annexed Midnapore, as well as Forest Lawn, as part of the largest land grab in the city’s history, adding on more than 70 square miles. With Montgomery and Bowness added in 1963 and 1964, respectively, Calgary’s total area was brought to 154 square miles before the end of the 1960s.
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.
Calgary is a well-organized city. The sprawl and the array of topography obscures this, but I think at some point the planners really got it right with the city’s layout.
It begins with the grid: Continue reading Road Names→
I feel like most Calgarians have bastardized the pronounciation, and it comes out more like “MIN-da-pore”, than “mid-na-PORE”
It’s a pretty unique name. I went to high school outside The Deep South, and when I told people from other parts of the city where I lived, they noted how exotic it sounded, like it was another country. As it turns out, there is a reason it sounds like some exotic, far-off place- it is. Continue reading Community Names→