Learn about the com­mu­nity you call home

An­nual neigh­bour­hood walk­ing tours take place in Hamil­ton this week­end

The Hamilton Spectator - - COMMENT - JOACHIM BROUWER

On the week­end of May 6 and May 7, the City of Hamil­ton will once again host a se­ries of Jane’s Walks, usu­ally held in con­junc­tion with Doors Open ar­chi­tec­tural tours.

Jane’s Walk was started in 2007 to rec­og­nize the work Jane Ja­cobs did over her life­time to pro­mote healthy and thriv­ing in­ner city neigh­bour­hoods. Jane’s Walk is held the first week­end in May to com­mem­o­rate her birth­day. Jane Ja­cobs was in­stru­men­tal in stop­ping the pro­posed Lower Man­hat­tan Ex­press­way in the 1960s which would have dec­i­mated the eth­nic com­mu­ni­ties of Lit­tle Italy, Soho and Green­wich Vil­lage, the arts mecca where she lived. After be­ing ar­rested in 1968 and dis­mayed by the Viet­nam War be­ing waged by the U.S., Ja­cobs moved to Toronto in 1968 and im­me­di­ately be­came in­volved in the Spad­ina Ex­press­way and Don Val­ley con­tro­ver­sies.

Ja­cob’s 1961 tome “The Life and Death of Amer­i­can Ci­ties” sits upon the shelves of ur­ban plan­ners and com­mu­nity ac­tivists alike to­day. The oft used phrases “so­cial cap­i­tal” and “eyes on the street” come from this book. Along with Lewis Mum­ford, Ja­cobs, who had no train­ing as an ur­ban plan­ner and was of­ten re­ferred to as that “crazy house­wife” is cred­ited with start­ing the New Ur­ban­ist move­ment and res­i­dent led as­set­based model of com­mu­nity devel­op­ment.

On Satur­day Brenda Duke, joint chair of the Gib­son Lands­dale Plan­ning Team, will be host­ing a walk of the Birch Av­enue Cor­ri­dor in­clud­ing Pow­ell Park’s com­mu­nity gar­den. Nom­i­nated for sev­eral vol­un­teer awards in­clud­ing the city wide Beau­ti­ful Al­leys cleanup, Brenda is com­mit­ted is mak­ing her ’hood a bet­ter place to live.

On Sun­day, May 7 Rachel Braith­waite, pres­i­dent of the Bar­ton Vil­lage BIA and cochair of the Bar­ton Vil­lage Fes­ti­val, and my­self will be host­ing a walk­ing tour of Bar­ton Street. Rachel be­lieves firmly in the fu­ture and vi­tal­ity of what was once the thriv­ing com­mer­cial and so­cial heart of east Hamil­ton and its in­dus­trial work­ing class denizens. We will be fo­cus­ing on some of the for­mer and cur­rent busi­nesses be­tween San­ford Av­enue and Smith Street.

Among these are the Tro­cadero restau­rant which was fea­tured in the HPO se­ries on John F. Kennedy. The old Mills Hard­ware soon to be­come the new Vin­cent de Paul thrift store is also fea­tured. Then there is the old Hamil­ton Fo­rum, for­merly Hamil­ton Arena, the home of the Ju­nior Hamil­ton Red Wings that won the Me­mo­rial Cup in 1962 and the Fin­cups who took the OHL cham­pi­onship in 1976. Many con­certs were also held in the ven­er­a­ble build­ing which has now made way for sin­gle-fam­ily homes.

Mary Lou Tan­ner and Ellen Mor­ris have done a great job or­ga­niz­ing this year’s slate of Jane’s Walks in Hamil­ton. Go to Jane’s Walk web­site for the walk clos­est to you. Come out and learn about the com­mu­nity you live in and call home.

Joachim Brouwer is co-sec­re­tary of the Gib­son-Lands­dale Plan­ning team.


Jane Ja­cobs, from a still used in the doc­u­men­tary “Cit­i­zen Jane: Bat­tle for the City.” Jane’s Walks take place in Hamil­ton this week­end.

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