City Life

A Rainy Day in the Life

Grab your bike and take a trip downtown. Hit the waterfront, farmers market, and the historic neighbourhoods along James St. There is so much more to see when you do Hamilton by foot or bike.

By Jason Leach
Published April 09, 2006

Some random observations as we head towards summer:

* * *

Spring is in the air and it's always exciting in the heart of the city when the season's change. Chat's on the sidewalk and in parks tend to meander a little longer. In the winter we tend to revert to a quick "Hi. Freezing, eh?" and be on our way.

Spring brings out the laid back side of the neighbourhood. I was doing some yard work the other day. It felt great to dig into the ground, see all the worms preparing my garden soil. Friendly neighbours and dog-walkers stopped by to chat.

As I write this in PAM's Café at Gore Park, it is positively busy outside. It's pouring rain but the city centre is full of people. Like Vancouver – a sea of moving umbrellas bob past my window. People board busses, even some brave cyclists are out. I love snow storms and rain storms for no other reason than they tend to calm traffic a little.

Boy, I wish I had a camera! This sea of umbrellas is really cool. Speaking of which, I lost mine. I've got to go across the road to King and James Convenience and snag one.

Hamilton is surging with diverse groups of people. Ethnic groups, hip young people, retro, avante garde. We've got it all. As a friend of mine, recently transplanted from Alberta, told me: "Hamilton is a cool little city. Everything you'd expect in a big city, but with the convenience of a smaller city. Culture, art, great dining." We've got it all!

* * *

Construction and renovations are popping up all over the place. As flowers and grass comes back to life, it's quite apparent that our city centre is too.

James North – this street is rapidly becoming my favourite spot in town. The fruit stands on the sidwalks, ethnic eateries and cluster of creative shops and galleries – Mixed Media and Under the Moon are positively brilliant, as is the Noodle Chef, The Sailor restaurant and the wonderful urban parkette in front of Christ's Church Cathedral.

Hamilton's only piece of Europe is on James North. Dave Kuruc even put a bench out front of Mixed Media. Now you can grab a cappuccino from Ventura's and chill on the street!

Last week I went through Hess Village on my way home and it was like mid-summer. Patios full, great vibe on the street. Ahhh...Spring is here.

* * *

Locke South – slowly but surely we are getting more places to pull up a seat in LoSo. Bad Dog Cafe leaves their bench out front all year. There are two in front of the old Unitarian Church across from the bagel bakery. Goodness Me has put a bench out front as has Beach Road Meats. Great cities offer many spots to sit and watch the world go by. I'd even like to see some chess tables, interactive fountains and other urban features in the downtown core.

* * *

Great photoblogs of our cool city are popping up all over. Check out a collection of local photographers at http://www.flickr.com/groups/hamilton-ontario/

* * *

This may end up being the year of the bike in Hamilton. I've seen more early spring cyclists than ever before, after a winter full of more cyclists than I can ever recall. Main, King, York/Wilson and Cannon all need to go two-way with one lane of traffic each way, bike lanes on some, street parking and wider sidewalks and bus lanes each way on Main. People are itching to live true city life in this town. It's high time City Hall allowed us to.

Get out and enjoy your city. Being stuck in a car is a brutal way to spend your spring and summer. Heck, grab your bike and take a trip downtown. Hit the waterfront, farmers market, and the historic neighbourhoods along James St. There is so much more to see when you do Hamilton by foot or bike.

Generations of Hamiltonians have pulled up a bench in Gore Park to enjoy the flowing water and surrounding streetscape. Make a point of trying it this spring if you never have. You'll love the vibe in the heart of the city.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.

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