Revitalization

Hume: Restored Hamilton City Hall a Cause for Optimism

By Ryan McGreal
Published July 08, 2011

Chris Hume, the Toronto Star's resident urbanist, has written a column congratulating Hamilton for doing a good job preserving and renovating City Hall.

[City Hall] is one of those rare modernist structures that feels as fresh now as it must have in 1960 when it was completed. Designed by City Architect Stanley Roscoe - who knew that Steeltown once had a city architect? - this is a relic from a time when people viewed the world with undiluted optimism.

That's long gone now but thanks to a $55-million renovation, Hamilton City Hall has been restored, refurbished and returned to some semblance of its former self. Though not every element of the program is equally impressive, the overall result still manages to please. The building may be a relic, but it's one that appears well loved and well-cared for.

Of course, in classic Hume style, it bars no holds and fires some painful zingers:

Hamilton being Hamilton, the fact the project happened at all is remarkable. ...

This is a city that has made every mistake in the book, and has the scars to prove it. Few urban centres have managed to inflict as much damage on themselves as has Hamilton. After eviscerating its core in the 1960s and '70s, it seems to have run out of any clear sense of where it was headed and why.

He also knocks Council for replacing the building's marble facade with precast concrete. "Though the architects have done their best to match the original material, the latter is no substitute for stone."

However, he concludes on a hopeful note:

Hamilton's decision to stay and restore its City Hall bodes well for a town that has suffered serious self-esteem issues. Now, 50 years later, there's reason for optimism once again.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By Akbar (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 09:53:52

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By Stanley (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 10:34:27 in reply to Comment 65816

Akbar, feel free to take the general silence as to your past and future silly posts on RTH so far as an indicator that many people feel exactly the same about you.

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By Akbar (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 11:00:09 in reply to Comment 65826

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 08, 2011 at 10:11:17 in reply to Comment 65816

You misspelled "congratulating".

Fixed, thanks.

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By RonMiller (registered) - website | Posted July 08, 2011 at 09:58:19

I hope some members of City Hall read this and understand we do not need any more mistakes.

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By Akbar (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 10:31:52 in reply to Comment 65817

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By TnT (registered) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 10:37:19

I wish Hume would take more looks at Hamilton, but he gets depressed I fear.

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By Akbar Who? (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 10:46:46

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By Akbar Who? (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 10:52:08 in reply to Comment 65832

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By Kevin (registered) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 11:15:49

Akbar, you should have put a comma between "worry" and "man."

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By Akbar (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 11:37:46

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By Sakbar (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 15:06:58 in reply to Comment 65846

That depends on what your meaning of "don't" is.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 15:28:08

I very much like the look of the restored city hall. However, it would be nice if the front area had more greenspace.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 16:33:23 in reply to Comment 65870

Even though we rarely see eye to eye, I agree with you on this Capitalist.



I hope Chris comes back to Hamilton to tour the Lister Block when it's done.

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By Akbar (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 16:26:19

Even tho I got a name that some might think is from a certain cultural group, I alone have the views expressed here--nobody else from the millions of others, me only. I actually never met Chris Hume and don't really know if he's a asswipe. One guy i know met him and says he's not a asswipe. I got a problem up mine, the ass, that make me say the things that I did. When I get better I won't write this bad stuff no more. I hope RTH don't mind. Soon I start my own blog so I can say what i like, so there.

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By Blackbar (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 21:15:47 in reply to Comment 65882

Matt Jelly, ladies and gentlemen!

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By just me (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 16:49:50

It's possible the on-line Hume Hamilton city hall article we've just all read may be in the Sat. Star--it does not appear to be in the printed version Friday.

**BUT see also 'Lake Ontario’s dirtiest spot'

We asked Lake Ontario Waterkeeper’s president, Mark Mattson.

He fingered Hamilton Harbour, specifically an inlet west of the industrial section near Evans McKeil Way. Hamilton Harbour is one of the International Joint Commission’s six “areas of concern” around the lake — areas that have been “severely degraded.”

http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1022157--lake-ontario-s-dirtiest-spot

AND http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1022104--lake-of-shame-ontario-s-pollution-problem
Lake of Shame: Ontario’s pollution problem

both by Antonia Zerbisias for the Sat. Star

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By George (registered) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 18:23:20

I think most of us here are aware of Randle's Reef. Not sure what relevance it has to Hume's article with regards to our city hall.

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By response (anonymous) | Posted July 09, 2011 at 10:54:04 in reply to Comment 65898

Both articles are from the Sat Star, both mention Hamilton--& embarrassment over Randle's Reef won't make it or noticing it go under your carpet; and the Big papers--that do count--don't often mention 'Hamilton'. Allwas in context--the good noticed by the Star, and the not good. Don't read it if you don't like it.

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By Billybong (anonymous) | Posted July 09, 2011 at 00:05:58

Hume is that faux urbanist from Toronto. Let him look at Fordville to write about. We have our own urbanist writers like....well like.....let me see, there's....oh drat....c'mon Hume write some more.

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted July 09, 2011 at 21:48:26

DR -23 135 -17%

Cause for Optimism? I'm sorry, I don't sense that anywhere in this discussion. But hey, I could utter something like this:

I wish Hume would take more looks at Hamilton, but he gets depressed I fear.

Which smells sooo much like, "This is Hamilton, better get used to IT here."

Something's really ripe rotten for sure when this Tacit and Timid fatalistic sneer has gotten 7 out of 9 upvotes right out of thin air.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted July 10, 2011 at 10:47:16 in reply to Comment 65925

I sense you have walked through the mire as least as long as I. I think everyone would enjoy a national voice to take up our plight. Fatalism and sarcasm are helpful when they help show perspective. That is the goal of my posts; brevity in a twitter world.

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