Urban Renewal

First some words of wisdom from a street preacher:

“The reason we stink every day and need to have shower is because we’re dirty. And God will not let us into heaven because we’re dirty.”

I went for a walk down Western Park today. I’ve walked along the Ponsonby Road end plenty of times, but I’d never ventured beyond that. It’s a gully, kind of like Myers Park, but wider, sunnier and with more trees.

Western Park follows the gully down to Freemans Bay. Of course, now Freemans Bay is a suburb, with bay itself now being the site of Victoria Park. In the 1960s Freemans Bay was full of old dilapidated villas. The city council declared them to be slums and decided that they should be pulled down and modern housing be build in an act of urban renewal.

So now around Freemans Bay are streets and streets of blocks of flats and rows of units. Down Napier Street there’s a row of identical two storied town houses, but right at the end of the street there are two old villas that escaped being demolished. But walking past the row of identical units I noticed an interesting thing. Each unit I passed I looked in the kitchen window of. They all had the same white tiles on the wall, but they all had different things on the tiles. Hooks, pans, stickers, tea towels all in different places. By the time I reached the end of the street the units were anything but identical.

I’m pretty sure that if the urban renewal of Freemans Bay hadn’t taken place all the “slums” would now be nicely renovated villas. But what’s there now isn’t so bad. Walking along Beresford Street, a saw a bunch of three storied blocks of flats set in large, grassy properties with plenty of trees. The sun was shining and things looked really nice.

(Oh, but don’t get me started on the concrete blocks of flats in Mt Eden or the townhouses being squeezed in next to railway lines.)

Leave a Reply