Maybe I was inspired by Adma or the recent ‘unintentional landmarks’ thread or maybe by the whole Psychogeography concept, but as I was thinking about Hamilton yesterday my mind wandered to the concept of “overly grandiose for its setting’ structures, landmarks, etc…
One of the things that I love to look for when I travel to smaller cities are things from that past that extrude confidence towards a future that never came for that city. Sometimes things were overbuilt due to a belief in growth in the future for the city, sometimes things were appropriate for the city when they were built but the status of the city declined (not particularly the population, just the influence/status). I’m not talking about abandoned structures, just overbuilt ones. It doesn’t even have to be structures, it could even be things like overly wide streets.
It is inherently difficult, if not impossible, for Toronto to be overly grandiose. As the centre of an urban region with over 5 million inhabitants and never experienced a real decline, Toronto is known for not being grand enough. Grand buildings like Old City Hall and Union Station are well utilized and fit in to the urban fabric. Even structures like the RC Harris filtration plant, although grandiose, are fully utilised and suitable for a large city.
So the two factors are:
1. Overbuilt due to a predicting growth that never came.
2. Status and influence of the city has declined leaving things that now seem out of place.
Some examples that I would think of are:
- Buffalo City Hall. Now completely out of scale for the city it serves.
- The Pigott Building in Hamilton
- Leslie Street Spit. Built to create a second harbour to serve an increase in shipping traffic that never came.
Can you think of any examples from cities and town in Ontario and the surrounding area?
(Oh, and no Detroit examples please. There’s just too many to list for that city!)