Learn about the community you call home
Annual neighbourhood walking tours take place in Hamilton this weekend
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.