Monday, May 24, 2010
Landscaping, Victorian Style
Why not celebrate Victoria day in the oldest inner city park in Calgary?
You can find a gorgeous cameo of Queen Victoria on the side of the base holding the equestrian statue of a soldier who fought in the Boer War. She was prim and proper, just like the park's newly renovated 11 million dollar facelift.
The grand re-opening of the Central Memorial Park was held earlier this month after a two year redevelopment period. Its not exactly the grand old 1912 version with palm trees and grandstand, but it is a lovely contemporary version, complete with Boxwood (soon-to-be-opened outdoor cafe) and free wireless internet.
Located between 12th and 13th Avenues and 2nd and 4th Streets S.W., the inner city park was the place to meet. The British Victorians, and then Edwardians who followed, made hanging out in the garden trendy. Suddenly there was a middle class with more leisure time on their hands. Attracted to the romanticism of country life, time was spent recreating elaborate gardens in the city.
The initial park design by HG Burrows in 1908 was followed by William Iverson's redesign in 1911 corresponding with the opening of the charming Central Memorial Library. In 1913, William Reader became parks superintendent and developed yet another scheme for the flora and fauna. This Victorian grand dame has had alot of 'work' as they say.
As an initiative to breathe new life into Calgary's oldest surviving park, a study was commissioned by the Victoria Crossing Business Revitalization Zone (thanks to the folks at the Beltline Initiative) headed up by the landscape architects Carson-McCulloch Associates. Additions include water fountains, re-aligned pathways and the planting of over 11,000 tulips.
Like the late Victorians before her, the happy urbanist will hang out in the park today. Unlike the late Victorians, she'll use the wireless internet connection. See you there.