Transportation
May 13, 2007

Ramsey Online

Stu Ramsey, Burnaby’s engineer extraordinaire, now has his own web site – Transport Planet – here.   You can find downloadable versions of his great PowerPoint presentations, as well as a gallery of fun stuff, like this:

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There was a hint of summer in the air today, May 7th.  Deceptive, of course; it will rain tomorrow.  But for an afternoon, we could believe!
A fine time to cycle the Downtown loop, from the West End to the North Shore of False Creek, across Abbott Street to Gastown, and then Coal Harbour and home.
I did something similar in Price Tags 66 and 86.  But for the next few posts, I’ll select some representative shots of how our city changes.
First up – the doggie run at George Wainborn Park.  They’re out there twice a day, connecting with other owners.  It’s definitely a community, and a great place to pick up someone attractive.   That goes for the people too.

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I saw the Fred Herzog show at the VAG last night – and I wasn’t alone.  The place was packed, full of under-30s.  Like those of us old enough to remember some of the places captured by Herzog’s camera, they were amazed at the compositional quality and play of colour in his prints. 
The younger ones came, I think, to gain into insight into a Vancouver they never had the chance to see.   (Though that sentiment shouldn’t be overdone: so much of what Herzog physically saw from the 1950s to the 70s is still here.  One West End shot has most of the elements remaining: the B.C. Electric building, the houses of Mole Hill, the streetcar apartment building.  But like the shots of Hastings Street in the Downtown East Side, the people, the mood, the social reality – all irretrievably changed.)
What makes Herzog so important, with a status that goes well beyond Vancouver, is his use of colour.  No other photographer of the street was using colour stock back in the 1950s; it was considered too garish, too associated with advertising.  Herzog’s collection, until recently, was almost entirely on slides, since prints didn’t give the quality he desired when enlarged.  Now digital imaging allows what you see on the walls of the gallery.
Or in books:

(A mixed bag of essays, but worth the trip.)
Herzog documents the Vancouver we were – and many will lament the loss.  Don’t.  We’re not that different, just evolved.  There is no clean break from the city that Herzog saw.  Like it, he is still with us, still walking the same streets for the same purposes.  
Even racially, Herzog captured the early days of the city we have become:    
Some of his works, like Jackpot, look as though Jeff Wall had set them up.  Some are immortal: perfect moments from the 1950s.  They certainly deserve life beyond the gallery walls.  Suggestion: create bus-shelter scale posters and mount them on the streets on which they were taken.   Or, like in Montreal, build an outdoor gallery, perhaps on the sidewalks of Georgia Street or on the old Larwell Park site (between Hamilton and Beatty), perhaps the home of the new Art Gallery, certainly the location of the Olympic gathering place in 2010.

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Thanks to Pacific Metropolis for picking up this promo video for 2010. It’s just one gorgeous scene after the other, with a New Agey soundtrack, pretty much guaranteed to make you feel all mushy about Vancouver and the Olympics. Sure it’s manipulative – unapologetically so. But it’s also worth appreciating the skill of the editor(s) in particular, as well as the production team that put it together, who go completely unrecognized. (If you stay til the end, you’ll see every sponsor and supporter, but no credits.)
Nice shots: the way SkyTrain blends into the skelton run, the Coal Harbour timelapses, the Mountie, and yes, the skater on the lake. Choose your own, and add them to the comments.

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Vancouver is, of course, narcissitic.  And she loves being photographed.   City Eye Photography does more than cater to our fetish; it provides a service:

 City Eye Photography offers quality stock images of the livable city. Our team has over a decade of experience in both policy planning and urban design photography. By capturing the best of public space, infill housing, public art, and high, medium and low density housing, our stock images are designed to assist you in developing the vision for your development project or city plan.

Not a large collection yet, but it shows promise.  And it helps Vancouver show off.

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Roger Kemble, an architect who has worked in Vancouver, now lives in Nanaimo.  He has a very opinionated worldview when it comes to urban design, and he’s put together his personal guide  here.  Best thing: the unusual, off-the-beaten-track examples.  And the critique of Nanaimo.
Check out “Of the Stones.”

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