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?