Saturday, December 04, 2010

Boulevard of broken dreams


East of Adelaide
London, ON, October 2010
[Please click here for more night-themed Thematic]


This used to be the centre of the retail universe, an uptown, upscale magnet that drew shoppers from across the region, consumer-pilgrims for whom London was a virtual Mecca. This stretch of Dundas Street, east of Adelaide, was pretty much the only place to see and be seen for generations who were young here once.

It's been decades since this once-proud district began it long, slow, apparently one-way descent into irrelevance. Larger-scale shifts to suburbs and malls were part of it, of course. But ill-conceived municipal planning didn't help: Londoners still remember the s-curve debacle that in one fell swoop cut off traffic from the area and added fuel to shoppers' flight to the edge of town.

This is what's left, a time-worn streetscape pockmarked by empty storefronts, empty lots, squatter-occupied buildings and the general stench of obsolescence. Those who live here wish they didn't. Those who live elsewhere harbor no desire to be here. Successive generations of neighborhood and business associations, projects and initiatives have tried to inject life into this modern-era ghost town, but the pictures continue to speak for themselves.

This place needs more time. More thought. More planning. More luck. More of everything. The optimist in me hopes it finds all of these things. Because even the forgotten deserve a second chance to be remembered.

Your turn: Do places like this have a chance? If so, what will it take?

20 comments:

Vicki said...

Carmi,
WOW! You are really depressing me with these dark feelings of "night".
Yes, I agree, there are many places like this in the US., areas in towns and cities that were once the hustle and bustle of an era. Now, it seems that most are looking for the sick (awesome),slaamin', New Age place to hang out. Merchants do try to revive an area, but it seems that it would be more obtainable if a group could get together and revive several places at a time. More variety = more interest.

Karen S. said...

Yes I believe they do have a chance. If the right people come together to make it happen, and build something that will draw customers in. All of these places were at one time thriving because of people and I'm sure there are people still around this area. Was the business district of this area small, ma and pa type places that have been replaced by the big box stores? Because that is the major problem when the business is gone the doors shut.

darlin said...

Hi there ty for the awesome suggestion with my dilemma. I'm going to give the voice recognition (if that's what it's called) a shot. I never even thought of that, you might have saved my day!

I love your style of writing, your usage of the English language impresses my immensely. You make words come to life, without the photo I can envision what you are describing, now that to me is talent. And very nice photos, you have 2 gifts!

K that's enough from me, this is taking me way to long to type! :-) Oh right where are my manners...hi, I'm Darlene and ty for stopping by my blog. Cheers!

Pat Tillett said...

A great photo and narrative. The photo seems to tie right in with the words. Thanks for commenting at my blog. I came over to check your blog out and really like what I see here. If you don't mind, I'm going to tag along. Thanks!
Patrick Tillett, Extremely Overdue

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I don't know the answer to that, but I do know that over time, msny areas that have become down-trodden, decayed and abondoned, often rise again! Hopefully this area will, too....

Just wanted to wish you and yours A HAPPY HANNUKAH, dear Carmi!

Twain12 said...

first off, thank you for your kind advise on my pictures...it took me a while to get that moon shot...did it step by step from a book lol, i hate playing with settings.
your picture is depressing and i would hope that there could be a revival, but i'm not sure either.

Jayne said...

I suppose there is a section like this in any good sized city. However, it does seem that the trend is to recapture the grandeur of the architecture of these places and re-inhabit them. Just this weekend, in the larger city closest to us, they are celebrating the revival of Main Street. (Google Mainx24 in Chattanooga) Merchants have moved back and there is a feeling of funky, artsy renewal! So, it can happen if there is enough vision and commitment.

Thanks for your kind comments Carmi, and for visiting my Journey Through Grace.

Sarah Walton said...

These kids of places must have a chance, because if they don't, Dubai will shut down, and I will have to go home. Not ready.

Nancy said...

I think the economy will need to make an about-face before that will happen. Sad to see any area become neglected. Nice photo which does tell the story very well. :)

Allison said...

It would take a handful of people passionate about living there, and then making it one of those places that is so exceedingly unique and interesting to visit you can't stay away: a utopian perspective or roll-up-your-sleeves initiative...not sure which!

Kalei's Best Friend said...

There is always hope where there is people... What would take for that area to come back is PEOPLE.. Ones who care enough to help clean it up, restore some sanity. Sidebar: as far as the other comment I made on 'night'... Night to me can be a happy feeling... that all is ready to go to bed and rest for the new day.

bruce said...

the suburban flight, and big box chains and proximity to where you live/shop..have destroyes large sections of the fabric of the world when we were young.

in a broad generalization some places make a comeback, when younger, hip, urban dwellers decide to make it their gathering spots...i have seen a couple places near me that have bounced back...

Lady Gabby said...

Awesome!
Please take a look at my blog if you ever get the chance. Any feedback is appreciated! Thanks so much :)
xx

floweringmama said...

Carmi,
Thank you for your beautiful comment on my blog. I'm a new follower and look forward to perusing your posts with glass of wine.

The orange slice serves as an inspiration doesn't it?

I believe that all towns, cities, and communities have areas like this that become downtrodden. City officials make it their business to take on projects such as this to revitalize and townsfolk see other ways tax dollars should be spent. It's a never ending conundrum.

Scented Sweetpeas said...

Thanks for your lovely comment on my blog, I hope you stay safe and snug whilst the storm swirls around your house.

Like your article on areas that have gone down in popularity. Like you say planning is the main problem and greed with planners thinking of money rather than how their developements around an area will effect an area as a whole :-(

Chibi Janine said...

Places like this people try to cling to what was have it back to how it used to be when what is needed is sometimes a complete new direction.

Cloudia said...

beautiful broken town!





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kcinnova said...

Areas of Seattle have been regenerated, so I know it can happen. It takes initiative, money, and a number of people willing to jump in and BE there (live, work, hang-out).

Out on the prairie said...

It is hard for some cities to plan and have it work. Our downtown is a ghost town, where a few towns nearby are thriving and well kept.

Country Mouse Studio said...

it seems if enough time passes and the price of land rises they all come back :O)