Hamilton's Industrial Devolution
Back in 1966, when I was about twelve years old, I used to be part of a street gang. We called ourselves, "The Creek's Raiders." The name was derived from our hangout and smoking refuge at the intersection of "the Creek" and "the Black Road" which existed on the south side of Mohawk Road in Hamilton before that area was developed. It was roughly in the area of what is now the south end of West 18th St, Lynbrook Drive, and Elgar Avenue.
I am not proud of it, but some of our activities involved mischief like "Knocking on Ginger," throwing snowballs at cars, petty vandalism, and lighting the occasional brush fire. (In those days, no one blamed the fires on climate change but there was little doubt about them being caused by human activity.)
Violence was rare, as were religious, racial, or gender issues. Even back then there were skin color gradients among us but no one gave a shit. Moms stayed home and dads went to work. Our world was pretty monochromatic. People said, "Merry Christmas" without looking over their shoulders. There was social cohesion. Diversity was a fact of life barely worth mentioning.
There was no internet in those days. Television broadcasts, on the seven stations we had, ended at about midnight. Other than shift workers, people were asleep at night and awake during the day. When not causing trouble, we busied ourselves building and renovating tree forts, building and floating rafts in the creek during the spring thaw, fishing at the Grand River in the summer, playing football, and baseball, and hiking.
We also did a lot of cycling. Though the seeds of Communist ideology had already taken firm root in Canada, they had not yet started to grow like weeds. We didn't realize that we needed "help" from politicians to get around on our bikes. We just did it. Therefore, the lack of bicycle lane traffic obstructions was not seen as an impediment. In effect, we took advantage of the plethora of unofficial bike lanes that did, and still do, festoon the city.
Hamilton was known as "The Ambitious City." I don't even know, off the top of my head, what it calls itself today.
Reflecting back on the puerile thrills I used to get from the juvenile misanthropic activities we engaged in, I realize how truly innocent we all were. Especially when it came to pointless destruction. The damage we caused was trivial compared to the stunts being pulled by Canadian politicians at all levels today.
"Ambition," and "industrial" have become dirty words.
The good news is that the members of the Creek's Raiders eventually grew up. Little did we know or expect that our puny activities would be institutionalized by our politicians once the seed of communistic thinking had begun to grow and flourish in Canada, and the West in general.
Now I am old and my attitudes have really changed. I find myself extremely irritated by those idiots who drive around with stereos in their cars that generate seismic disturbances on city streets just to bug people, and by those idiots who get paid by taxpayers to constantly invent other ways of aggravating people who drive cars.
I remember how childishly proud I felt back in 1967 when one of my friends reported that the West Mountain reportedly had more mischief complaints than any other part of the city. That would have been us. Today, as I watch the City of Hamilton being re-engineered as a result of the gang that populates our Clown Hall, I can only imagine how some of the "decision makers" feel when they see massive traffic jams in the core and how they too must be thinking, "that would have been us." I imagine arsonists also experience the same emotion.
Originally written in the late 1990s. Slightly edited.
Two Ways to Go Insane
Recent Hamilton Spectator Headline:
Push for two-way streets gains momentum
How Stupid Can People Be!
The downtown core in the city of Hamilton has been declining for some years now.
Take a walk along King Street and you can't miss the depressing sights of the stores and small businesses.... once bustling with commercial activity...now sitting vacant... with no customers... and only ghosts at the registers.
Sure, there are a few places still hobbling along, here on King Street.... as the photo (right) shows. But anyone who has lived in Hamilton for a while knows it used to be better.... much better !
Well, have no fear Hamilton, things are going to get better. You see, we have a whole crew of brain surgeon types working on new plans to revitalize the core!
What are some of the ideas these brain surgeon types are coming up with?In an article in the Hamilton Spectator Ken Peters gives us a great example:
"Hamilton politicians believe a call to make King, James and John two-way streets again is headed in the right direction.
The return of two-way traffic to the three main thoroughfares after nearly 40 years would occur by this summer if a citizens' lobby group has its way. The streets have featured one-way traffic since 1958.
A recently formed Hamilton Downtown Two Way Streets Group won support yesterday from the city's planning and development committee for its proposal.
The group says it may make a case for turning Main Street into a two-way thoroughfare in future.
The move to two-way traffic is expected to create greater traffic congestion in the core, thus creating a more pleasant atmosphere for pedestrians while improving storefront visibility and tourism opportunities."
Well whaddaya think of THAT gem! Two-way traffic is expected to create greater traffic congestion in the core, thus creating a more pleasant atmosphere for pedestrians!
Yummy.... all those engines idling away... yup should create a mighty pleasant atmosphere for everyone.
You can just hear Fran calling up her girlfreind Megan to go shopping downtown, "Megan, I just heard the on the radio.... traffic's backed up for miles downtown... it's creating a really pleasant atmosphere for pedestrians. Why don't we go and do some shopping!"
Well, if greater traffic congenstion is called for why stop at two-way streets? Why not quit repairing the roads!? Let those potholes proliferate. Imagine what a combination of two-way streets and potholes will do to revitalize the core!
Why, no doubt pedestrians will find the experience so damn pleasant they will begin to have orgasms. Hell, if the potholes don't cause orgasms then a few strategically placed road construction sites with cranes and huge craters should do the trick. Hamilton could become a tourist Mecca what with flowers on the traffic islands and massive, hair ripping, traffic jams in the core.
(Update, 2020: The city has indeed adopted this idea of pothole proliferation by creating hundreds, if not thousands, of artificial potholes, A.K.A. - speed bumps on city streets.)
"I don't know of a successful downtown in the world that isn't congested"Alderman Marvin Caplan said in voicing his support for the concept.
Let's see if we can expand upon Mr. Caplan's thinking here. Mr. Caplan observes that successful downtowns, at least the ones he knows about, suffer from congestion. He concludes that congestion must be the reason for the success of these downtown areas and happily supports proposals to deliberately create congestion in Hamilton's core! See what I mean about brain surgeons?
I used to go to a lot of Rock concerts back in the 1970's. At every one there were line-ups and crowds of people jostling to get in to see the band. In other words, there was a lot of human congestion. In accordance with Mr. Caplan's thinking we can suppose then, these concerts were not successful because of Pink Floyd or Super Tramp or the Rolling Stones or what have you. No, these concerts were successful because of all the human congestion that occurred around them.
"I can think of no successful Rock concert without crowds" we can easily imagine him saying. Clearly then, if the line-ups and crowds were there, even Fishin' Wire Eddy could become a flipping millionaire! This, of course, begs the question, "If we want to make Fishin' Wire Eddy a millionaire how do we attract the crowds?"
|"I don't know of a successful downtown in the world that isn't congested" --Marvin Caplan|
Create congestion and everyone will rush downtown to visit places like the ones shown here. These are just a couple of examples of the community which extends
(Update, 2020: Barton Street hasn't changed much since I took those photos back in the 1990s despite an additional twenty + years of rejuvinative two-way traffic flow.)
The Spectator says
Mayor Bob Morrow supports the proposal to revert the three streets to two-way traffic.
"I am convinced on the philosophical side and from the nuts-and-bolts side that it makes a whole lot of sense. I think it is one good ingredient to the recovery of the downtown, and this could be a tremendous shot in the arm."
And really.....the philosophical side? Excuse me but is this guy for real? What is the "philosophical" side of this issue? If anyone knows please clue me in! I suspect it relates somehow to the fashionable leftist notion that the private automobile is evil and any government action to make driving unpleasant is therefore laudable regardless of whether screwing up traffic revitalizes so much as a single abandoned warehouse.
Group member Helen Kirkpatrick, a founding member of the Greater Downtown Development Corp., a defunct advisory group, says the two-way plan has the backing of the Hamilton-Halton Homebuilders Association, Durand Neighbourhood Association, Hamilton Society of Architects and International Village Business Improvement Area. The proposal was a key element of the Hamilton Downtown Ideas Charrette report presented to city council in October by the Hamilton Society of Architects.
(Update, 2020: Many of Hamilton's residents are sorely disappointed in the Ford government's decision to cancel the LRT. It would have created a really pleasant atmosphere for both drivers and pedestrians for another full decade, not to mention all of the lost opportunities for congestion-induced shopping sprees.)
Ms Kirkpatrick said civic politicians must choose whether they want the core to be a street-friendly place or a thoroughfare for quick-moving vehicular traffic. "It comes down to a choice. Are our people a priority or are cars a priority?"What the heck is "street friendly" supposed to mean? It's probably just another Spec typo. She probably said "people friendly." Who cares... it's a load of hogwash anyway.
It really does seem as though everyone who advocates a return to two-way traffic clog suffers from mental caplitis (irritation of the caplan wrought by inflammation of the colon). Ms. Kirkpatrick clearly sees quick-moving traffic and "street-friendliness" or "people friendliness" as mutually exclusive values. Slow traffic down, she seems to believe, and hoards of happy pedestrians will suddenly descend upon the core and start buying stuff.
The boards will come off the storefronts and the bums will find other hangouts as everyone rushes from Limeridge Mall, Eastgate Mall, the hundreds (thousands and counting?) of new establishments on the mountain and in surrounding communities.... as everyone rushes from these places into the core of Hamilton to take advantage of the pleasant atmosphere for pedestrians created by traffic hell!
|"It comes down to a choice. Are our people a priority or are cars a priority?" -- Helen Kirkpatrick|
"We see this proposal as not an end point but part of the beginning to the revitalization of the downtown."
Yeah right.... as the pictures here clearly show... the "revitalization" of Barton street started eons ago. I guess they forgot to go to the next step. Or maybe they would be satisfied with that vibrant community in the photo... the one in the black hat... taking advantage of the pleasant atmosphere
and "street friendliness" here on one of Hamilton's longest two-way streets.
What's the next bright idea? A "Johnny on the Spot" on every corner?
You should be be able to find more reports on the two way street issue by visiting the Hamilton Spectator Home Page
And remember, if you get stuck in some horrendous traffic snarl in Hamilton next summer, just get out of your car as fast as you can. The sooner you become a pedestrian the sooner you will benefit from the pleasant atmosphere. If you can find a place to park that doesn't cause an unpleasant atmosphere in your wallet....
Update: January 2020
In the end, the only time you can seriously expect a politician to fulfill their promises is if they tell you, up-front, that their intention is to screw things up. That is because, even though they don't seem to be able to efficiently repair pot-holes, nor prevent sewage leaks, nor control the climate, when it comes to screwing things up, they are the undisputed masters.
They said they were going to screw up Hamilton traffic and by gosh, they have been stunningly successful.
Update: January 13, 2020:
Hamilton's Industrial Devolution roars on.
This just in. Funny how it came to me AFTER I posted this blog entry and a new video about the Bay St. fiasco.
The vandalism is set to get a whole lot worse in 2020.
From the Hamilton Catch Newsletter,
THE HAMILTON, ONTARIO, BAY STREET BIKE LANES FIASCO.