Monday, March 16, 2009

Some Old Pics of the Eaton Centre

Back in the 80s I lived in Victoria and was involved in the campaign to oppose the Eaton Centre Mall. I took some pics at the time and found them again after a long time. This first picture is of the Douglas Street side of the Eaton's.

I went down on January 19th 1987, a sunny winter day, and took a series of pictures. I did a bunch of them from an office in the Central Building on View Street

I had completely forgotten where the old Marks and Spencers was, my memory had it on the corner of View and Douglas where the Macdonalds is now. The art deco facade was moved to the Macdonalds.

The Times building had a nice presence on Fort Street which has been lost with the mall, on the other hand the streetscape on Fort Street is better now than then.

I really liked the old buildings at the corner of Broad and Fort Street and was sorry to see them go.

I came back once it was under construction and took some pictures. I was amazed at the view one got of the Eaton's building from Government.

In general my fears about the mall all came to pass. The mall is a huge block that splits the centre of the city up. Government Street between View and Fort feels like a canyon. Fort may have a better streetscape, but the building looms over the street.

View street feels like an alley and not a street any longer.

The loss of Broad Street has blocked the natural walking route that existed there from Centennial Square to the Empress.

The interior of the mall has no relationship to the outside, no sense of connection. The mall on the inside is blandly North American, it could be in any city anywhere on the continent, there is nothing within it that connects to the city. The mall has offered the city nothing to make this a better place.

If there was a need for a mall downtown, it should have been built around Blanshard and Yates. The thinking that went into allowing this mall to be build is the same type of thinking that allowed for 20+ storey concrete bunker buildings like Orchard House or the View Tower(s).

Unfortunately this error of the 1980s can not be undone.

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