Porirua’s CBD in 1960 and now
Porirua City centre in the early 1960s has the feel of something about to kick off.
This week’s Flashback photo is from the Watson family, formerly of Titahi Bay, who have a superb collection of old Porirua photos.
Often from the 1950s and 1960s, the photographs show a nascent city enjoying its adolescence.
Porirua became a city in 1965 but the photo we put up on social media this week pre-dates this milestone by a few years.
The city centre is a blank canvas, with just a handful of buildings under construction on the reclaimed land. Some roads are established.
The lunatic asylum looms large in the background, houses occupy the space that North City Shopping Centre does today and the bridge over Porirua Stream is in a different place to the Titahi Bay Rd exit we use now.
The Aotea residential development, where the man is standing, is decades away. Today, it is an ever-growing suburb that looks over a busy city centre.
In 1900, Porirua had three churches, a hotel, railways station and a general store.
After WWII, the need for more urban development saw Upper Hutt, Wainuiomata, Stokes Valley and the Porirua basin take off in terms of population growth.
Land was cheap in Porirua, the main trunk line ran through it, construction was soon to begin on a road between Johnsonville and Porirua and the natural topography and resources were adequate for services like water reticulation and stormwater drainage.
Porirua was a planned city. Housing, shopping and commercial and industrial development
Comments on Facebook generally put the year of theWatson photo in the early 1960s. Eleanor Cater said it was a great historic picture, showing the groundwork being laid to build a city. CamDowling said it wasn’t hard to pick out the city centre layout even 50 years ago, pointing out the ‘‘Countdown corner’’ on the far right. were all thought out.
As far as the town centre was concerned, there were designs created as early as 1947, yet the final decision on the layout was not made by governing local authority Makara County Council until March 1960.
Most of the original village on the western side of the railway line was cleared, Porirua Stream diverted and Kenepuru Stream straightened. Land was reclaimed at the head of the harbour.
Earthworks began in summer 1959/60 and by 1964 all the cutting and reclamation was complete.
Administration, commerce and shopping was focused on the city centre, pedestrians were separated from traffic and car parking was available for cars.
The first shop, Fashion Court, on Lyttelton Ave, was opened by the Minister of Lands in 1963.
While other retailers followed, it was the arrival of the likes of the General Electric Company, Kodak, Chubb, Ashley Wallpaper, WR Grace and, later, Todd Motors, that set the city on its way as a commercial and retail destination.
An old photo of Porirua, possibly taken in the late 1950s or early 1960s.