Comment 32777

By jason (registered) | Posted August 12, 2009 at 19:11:22

I'm assuming people know this, but just to be clear, streets like Wilson, York, Cannon, Main, King etc.... weren't designed the way we see them today. It wasn't the intention of those streets to have ultra narrow sidewalks right next to front doors of homes with 5 lanes of traffic roaring by. Check out photos of Hamilton from the 50's and prior and you'll see all of these main streets functioning in a much more balanced manner. You'll see Cannon and Wilson looking similar to current day King West and Sterling in Westdale. Big trees planted in the grass boulevard between the sidewalk and the road. It was all torn down and cut right back into people's property in order to be widened.

You'll see great pics of both King and Main functioning as two-way streets with streetcars running down the middle of both. You'll notice streets that today seem abnormally wide such as Charlton west of James and King West in Westdale Village were designed that way to accommodate the streetcars which ran on them. I can't see any evidence of physical widening taking place on Barton or Burlington Street, but the removal of streetcars and their right-of-way is absolutely another manner in which balanced roadspace was handed over for the sole use of cars.

I loved my recent trip in Toronto, riding the Queen streetcar. That city isn't more livable than Hamilton because of it's huge towers or large size (in fact, in my opinion those things are hindrances). It's more livable than Hamilton because it does a lot of the little thing that we refuse to do such as give streetcars the ability to stop all traffic so passengers can load and unload. In Hamilton we shave off more of our already skinny sidewalks so buses don't make the earth-shattering mistake of having to stop a lane of traffic while loading/unloading passengers.

Hamiltonians love to visit progressive, livable, vibrant, safe, exciting cities and they love to come home complaining about the fact that we aren't one....but once they get behind the wheel they completely forget what they just experienced.
And we continue to lag.....

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