Sidewalk history

I found another of these favourite sidewalk tags the other day, this time in Mount Pleasant, which is quite far from the Clark Drive and Prior St. area where I’ve seen the others (pictures here). This one is in front of the No Frills store, just around the corner from City Hall, where there has indeed been a lot of what we often think of as  “history” take place. I’m guessing that’s not the reason for the placement though. I would like to inquire. Yet another Vancouverite I’d like to meet; maybe I should start a list. As usual, one post begets ideas for three more.

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If you are disappointed that this post isn’t about the history of sidewalks, I apologize. That’s a fascinating topic about which I’ve long wanted to know more. Here are some places to look into that:

This 2011 book by SFU geography professor Nicholas Blomley: Rights of Passage: Sidewalks and the Regulation of Public Flow

10 questions for sidewalk scholar Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris

Three blog posts: Simulated history: sidewalks and streetscapesSidewalks: ignored aspects of everyday life; and A brief history of black folks and sidewalks.

 Wikipedia’s sidewalk page

Also, an old friend of mine in Victoria, Janis Ringuette, has done a lot of research and writing on Victoria’s beautiful (though deteriorating) sidewalk prisms.

This all brings to mind a question: When did Vancouver get its first sidewalk? That depends, of course, on how you define sidewalk – i.e. one made of wood or one made of concrete? I’d be happy with the answer to either. If the answer isn’t in Nick Blomley’s book, I’ll bet it’s fairly easy to find at the City of Vancouver Archives (how many times have I said that about something I wanted to find, anywhere?), if I had time to go. Too bad the VPL’s Askaway service is no more. If I do find the answer in Blomley, I’ll update.

West End placemaking

I noticed several borders and containers planted with flower seeds along Bute Street, just south of Davie the other day. I took note in part because I rarely do well with flower seeds planted directly in the ground, but that may be because my garden plot is a 10-15 minute walk from where I live, so I tend not to water newly planted seeds as often as they need it. I’d like to keep an eye on these spots to see how they do. I so appreciate it when people make this kind of effort to dress up and add points of interest to walking routes.

Another nice placemaking effort in the same area….seems like something Sharon Kallis might have been involved in.

Update: two more points of suprise and whimsy. These birdhouses. Do some birds like and use these, I wonder? Hope so.

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And these little tree-dwellers…

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While I’m often skeptical of placemaking efforts (a topic I’ll have to tackle in another post) encountering mini art installations like these always makes me smile…Another benefit of them that has only just occurred to me is that they reward paying attention to your immediate surroundings rather than keeping eyes down on phone.