Tag Archives: James St

A SoBi tour with Bill Curran

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Bill Curran pointing to the landscape beyond as he discusses the surrounding neighbourhood

Architect Bill Curran and I have been planning a bike ride for some time.

We often tour around Hamilton, checking out buildings and houses, discussing architecture, the neighbourhoods, and Hamilton’s deep history. Because of how large Hamilton is geographically, we either pick a neighbourhood to walk or we end up taking a car to cover the most ground possible. This weekend we were finally able to go for a bike ride. The area we picked is one of Bill’s favourites: the industrial north.

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#419 Lawanda is a personal favourite at the Locke Street hub

I grabbed a SoBi (there’s a rack conveniently close to my apartment) and was on my way to meet Bill out front of his office on James Street North. He had a route in mind, but we basically just winged it, taking alleys, bike lanes, and roads through the city to reach our destinations.

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Hidden behind it’s green shell is an old car dealership complete with a car ramp to the second floor

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The overlooked Our Lady Of Glastonburty Orthodox Church with little ornament on an expansive street of traffic

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Bill giving me a history lesson about the building that was once Mills Lighthouse

Our first notable stop was the Cannon bike lanes. There we stopped at points to discuss laneway housing, an old car dealership for sale, and a subtle little church easily missed by car.

Laneway housing is something Hamilton needs more of. They add density, character to neighbourhoods, and help increase the city’s building stock in an unobtrusive way (just to name a few of the benefits). Bill’s firm, TCA, did a study on Laneway housing in conjunction with the city and you can read it here.

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Moving day at a row of apartment buildings just West of Barton and Wenthworth

Next we made our way to Barton. We saw a street on the turn around. Although Barton faces many obstacles, we are seeing pockets of growth and investment sprinkled throughout. Many barriers are still in the way, but there are encouraging signs almost anywhere you look.

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Lawanda in front of a post and beam pavilion at Birge Park

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Rocketships of wooden wonder

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The new pool at Birge Park

We cut through some more alleys and streets before reaching Birge Park. This small park just received a makeover, which includes a new wading pool and change room building designed by Kathryn Vogel Architects. The building has a contemporary feel to it with its overhanging rooflines and stucco accents, while the pool is nothing short of functional as well as aesthetically pleasing.

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Karma Candy Factory

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The Galley Pump Tavern. A local favourite.

Continuing north, we passed Karma Candy factory, the Emerald Street Footbridge, some local watering holes, and numerous other businesses sprinkled throughout the area. The history in the North End is deep. There’s so much to discover that you can’t find it all in one bike ride. It would take many. I was curious about everything and I couldn’t keep track of it all.

Then came Burlington Street. It’s a different world. Trucks zooming by. Potholes like craters on the moon. We had to weave through areas like a downhill slalom just to get to our destinations.

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A handsomely detailed early modern office building that once housed Stelco offices.

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POV from Lawanda’s perspective

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Bill discussing the port lands

We stopped by a handsome old Stelco office and made our way down closer to some of the ports. I wanted to ask Bill what his opinion is regarding the future of our Waterfront since it’s a hot topic in this city. He had differing opinions on what Pier 7 and 8 should look like and that more port lands should be accessible like they once were. After 9/11 security concerns changed that, he said, and the ports became impossible to access. I forgot what the world before 9/11 looked like.

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The former, recently charred Hamilton Hells Angels clubhouse (and before that the Gage Tavern) at Gage and Beach.

Before we knew it we were at Gage and we decided to cut south. We passed the recently closed Hells Angels HQ and made our way past more industrial buildings scattered amongst housing on Beach road. One thing I noticed was the many simple, functional, modern buildings sowed about the area. We need to do more to reuse these diamonds in the rough, as many now sit completely or partially vacant.

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Hamilton Moderne

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A beautiful Hydro Electric Station turned office building on Sherman with classical features, detailed reliefs, and ornament

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A swiss cheese makeover at Victoria Ave

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The Repite Centre, refaced by Greg Sather in 2005.

Next was Sherman. We rode past Cotton Factory and discussed its impact, the history, architecture, and the work ecosystem inside it. We also passed some charming early modern buildings on Sherman. I was too busy keeping my eyes on the road to take too many photos, but I certainly want to go back and look at more of what we saw that day.

The tour kept going. It was a long day. 21 kilometers were travelled. Lots of liquids were consumed. I won’t keep you much longer, because pretty soon this article is going to be as tiring as our bike ride. We explored a lot of the city and much of it is hard to retrace.

You know what was one of the best things about the ride? Taking a SoBi bike. If you haven’t yet tried one, you should. They are convenient, easy to use, and offer a better way to travel about the city. Those little blue machines are one of the best investments this city ever made. Don’t believe me? Sign up and let me know what you think. I promise you won’t be let down. And you’ll probably become hooked (like me). I barely even drive my car anymore.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY – April 27th

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Main St & James St S – History and Heritage x 3

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Toronto To Hamilton

Yesterday, I received an email from a resident of Toronto who told me that she is thinking of moving to Hamilton with her boyfriend. She wanted to know more about the neighbourhoods and the happening places within the city. This was my response:

Moving to Hamilton is a big step, but totally worth it.

Hamilton is evolving rapidly, a progressive social, political, and physical change is happening in this city. There is a bike lane network that is ever-expanding, as well as a bike share program set to launch this spring; a push for better transit (including an all day GO station on James St North slated to be complete by next year); more walkable neighbourhoods to raise a family; a reviving core; developments popping up daily; shopping districts worth visiting; historic buildings worth admiring; and bountiful satellite towns for getaways, just to name a few things.

I’ll start off with the streets that we know: Locke Street, James Street, and Ottawa Street.

Locke Street is a beautiful, lively street. It has everything: antique shops, coffee shops, thrift stores, a grocery store, delicatessen, cheese shop, flower shop, gym, book store, bars, salons, and numerous restaurants that are worth visiting. Not only does this street have just about every ingredient a Toronto resident is accustomed to on their commercial streets, but it is also surrounded by some of the nicest neighbourhoods this city has to offer. Kirkendall North and South are home to quiet, quaint streets with heritage houses, condos, apartments, churches, schools, and beautiful parks (you definitely need to check out the H.A.A.A grounds).

James Street is vast. From North to South, both areas offer distinctively different experiences. James Street North is undeniably the hottest street in the city. It is the “go-to” street when visiting. Home to Supercrawl and monthly Art Crawls, you could argue that it’s the artistic hub of the city. It connects to our urban shopping mall, Jackson Square, the friendly Farmers Market, the beautiful Hamilton Public Library Central Branch, and has a variety of shops, cafes, and restaurants. In relation to Toronto, this street is a lot like Ossington. The neighbourhoods that surround it (Beasley, Central, and the North End) are some of the most diverse and liveable neighbourhoods in the city – another great area to start a family.

James South is quieter, if that’s what you’re looking for. It has some of the city’s best restaurants and a strip of bars on Augusta Street that are always worth frequenting. The James South area is surrounded by amazing neighbourhoods to wander: Durand, Corktown, and Stinson. These neighbourhoods are full of architectural riches. Neo-gothic, Tudor Revival, Colonial, Georgian, French Revival, Neo-Romanesque, Queen Anne, Modern, Post-Modern, Brutalist, Art Deco, Contemporary, and just about every other style of architecture imaginable are on display throughout their historic streets.

Did you know Ottawa Street is home to the first Tim Hortons? They are currently building a new two-storey Store #1 complete with a museum. This street was once the textile street of Hamilton, but has evolved into a lively shopping district. New commercial tenants are moving in all the time and it’s quickly becoming one of the most happening streets in the city. Crown Point and Delta are also great family friendly neighbourhoods and they aren’t too far from Gage Park, a lush park designed in the City Beautiful style.

Westdale Village really is a village within a city. It’s a great escape that is a short bus, bike, or car ride away from the core. Westdale offers a lot in the way of amenities and is home to Westdale Theatre, a historic theatre that turns dinner and a movie into something magic. The area has a lot of history (like all of Hamilton, really). The neighbourhoods are sprinkled with young families, established families, and student housing. If you’re in the area, McMaster University is definitely worth visiting. Architecturally, this University has some breathtaking buildings and scenery. It’s also compact and offers a real communal campus feel, which you don’t quite get with the vastly sprawling University of Toronto.

King Street, one of Hamilton’s main arterial roads, is a street on the turnaround. From Wellington Street to Dundurn Street this area is sprinkled with just about everything. While in the International Village, swing by J.H. Gordon Books, browse the racks for vintage clothes at Girl On The Wing, and grab a coffee at Cafe Oranje before continuing West to Gore Park. Situated at the James and King corridor, the park is a slice of tranquility, where cultures meet and Hamiltonian’s co-mingle. On the way, stop at The Royal Connaught and take a peak at its newly renovated grand lobby. Once an illustrious hotel, this condo development will completely alter Hamilton’s core for the better.

Also be sure to visit The Art Gallery of Hamilton. It always has incredible installations and exhibitions that are worth the price of admission. Currently, they have a Cézanne exhibition that runs until February 1st. From there you can head to Commonwealth Square. This public space offers a beautiful vista of our masterful City Hall and Hamilton Place, where the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra regularly serenades patrons with beautiful, moving music.

There’s also the Strathcona neighbourhood. The area is affordable, with Victoria Park (which includes tennis courts, basketball courts, baseball diamonds, a pool, and a community garden) close by, and within proximity to just about everything. You could go to De La Sol for yoga, The Mustard Seed Co-op for locally sourced groceries, and Dundurn Castle to tour the grounds of a remarkable piece of Canadian history.

One of our hidden treasures is the Bayfront. Travel North on Bay Street and you’ll find it. The Waterfront Trail is a beautiful walk, wrapping west around the bay towards Westdale. You’ll see the city from many wonderful vantage points. If you decide to travel east at the Bayfront, there’s Pier 4 Park, a great place for a picnic or a casual stroll. In the summer, it’s always nice to sit and watch sail boats gracefully sail about the bay or walk to Pier 8 and grab a coffee from Williams and take the West-Harbour Trolley, rent some bikes, or enjoy the roller rink and live music at Sarcoa Restaurant.

But it’s about more than just neighbourhoods. Hamilton is brimming with a creative class. There is a palpable energy within the city that is contagious. Shops are well supported, streets are inviting, and friends are easy to make when you’re downtown. Hamiltonian’s are enamored with their city and it shows. Hamilton is going places and it’s not City Hall that’s driving this city, it’s the people.

I’ve barely scratched the surface. I could go on and on. It’s easy to ramble about ones love affair with this city. However, the best thing to do is grab the GO train or bus, walk outside of our GO Centre on Hunter Street and explore. The brightest gems are the ones you discover yourself. Leave all the pre-conceived notions of Hamilton at home and you’ll quickly fall for its charm. It has it all and then some. There’s so much heart to this city. You should give it yours. It will welcome you with open arms.

My apologizes for any grammatical errors. This post is verbatim.

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In Photos: Through the Lens of Steph Dubik

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About the photographer:

Steph is a flâneur with a penchant for taking beautiful photographs in and around Hamilton. She likes to take photographs of signs, buildings, bicycles and whatever catches her eye, using disposable cameras.

For more of her work visit:  http://justdisposables.ca/

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Architectural Spotlight: Witton Lofts

image-17Witton Lofts
Lintack Architects
Core Urban Inc. Development
50 Murray St
Completed: 2013

Due to demographic shifts, seemingly poor management, budget constraints, and multiple other circumstances, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board is facing school closures throughout the city. Witton Lofts, formerly McIlwraight Public School, is a intelligent example of how you can adaptively re-use a former school without a wrecking ball.

Completed in 2013, the five-storey, 36-unit loft is a catalyst for redevelopment in the core. The design of the building effectively incorporates and preserves the two-storey school from 1925, while a three-storey emerald jewel box of glass and steel is superimposed on top of the neo-Romanesque building. The outcome is a harmonious marriage of contemporary and classical architecture. image-18 New entrances have been relocated to the east side of the building, where an elevator has been added for accessibility to the upper floors. image-20 Two additional entrances are also located at the rear of the building under original arched doorways. image-21 The schools façade has largely remained unchanged with its detailed limestone ornament and intricate, colourful brickwork. The only changes being cosmetic and structural upgrades, such as pot lights and new windows.

With a mixture of both fully enclosed and open-air balconies, the lofts offer panoramic vistas of both the bay and James Street North. image-22 Parking garages for residents have also been added for additional parking and storage.

Architect William Palmer Witton designed McIlwraight Public School while he was partnered with Walter Wilson Stewart. During his formative years, Witton apprenticed under Alder & Sullivan (two of America’s most influential architects) in Chicago between 1893 and 1894, where he was trained in the Beaux Arts tradition. His other notable Hamilton landmarks include Herkimer Apartments, George R. Allan Public School, and a chancel addition to Christ Church Anglican Cathedral, to name a few.

In 2013, Witton Lofts received the City of Hamilton Urban Design Award of Excellence for Adaptive Reuse.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY – July 14th

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The Witton Lofts – 50 Murray St W

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July 14, 2014 · 10:42 am

PHOTO OF THE DAY – June 8th

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Geometry on James St N.

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June 9, 2014 · 8:56 am