We came here a year and a half after Christchurch’s February 22, 2011 earthquake, the one that devastated downtown. Much of the city center has been closed since buildings are still being demolished, so Open Streets day this past weekend was our first glimpse at the central city plaza. You can see the cathedral (the place is called Christ Church after all) that was at the heart of the downtown district in the background. Open Streets day invited people back into the central city to see the status of the “rebuild” (which is still mostly underground necessities like sewers and water mains), though residential construction is booming and commercial buildings are starting to go up, if not yet in the city center itself. Milo got to try out a pink tricycle–what a treat!
The trolley tracks indicate that this was once a trendy downtown walking plaza, but most of the buildings are now gravel lots. It was the first time I realized how nice a place the central city used to be.
You might not be able to read the yellow spray paint on the window under the “Brave” sign, but it says “cleared,” meaning it was checked for people after the earthquake and everyone had evacuated. Places like this are still in “freeze frame” since the earthquake happened, but there are fewer and fewer still left to be dealt with.
“Former Link Center site” the sign says. Something new will doubtless be constructed eventually, but until then the site is still known by its former inhabitant.
The Cathedral is one of those buildings that has been in long-term limbo. Because it has been such an icon for the city, folks have an emotional attachment to the building and would have liked to see it restored, even at extravagant cost. The latest news is that the Anglican church has decided to replace it with a modern building. Personally I like the flower hut, but I imagine something more permanent will be devised.
There are winners and losers in every disaster, and the temporary fence companies were one of the winners in Christchurch! So many areas are still barricaded by temporary fence that I don’t even notice them any more, except these ones that were decked out in pretty plastic patterns to add festivity to the Open Streets day. Milo thought they were pretty cool too.
Open Streets included a bike parade with old fashioned bikes, a highlight for Milo. Not sure what the stone Milo’s standing on used to support…..
I think Christchurch will be a plucky city and the rebuild will work. Here’s what the city council and retailers did when their retail spaces were “munted.” Shipping containers were being used as barricades and were plentiful and cheap, so they added windows, a lick of paint, planted flowers hung out “Quake city” signs, and carried on. A nifty bike repair station has even been installed (blue pillar to the right of stroller).
Of course the thought of earthquakes puts a little shiver in my system (as AK gets 5000 per year-luckily we don’t feel most of them). It is really neat to think that Jeremiah is assisting with the Christchurch rebuild on some level. Thank you for this lesson post.
Hi Molly & Jeramiah,
This posting is quite poignant as we stayed in Christchurch several days and loved it there. The cathedral is a very sad sight indeed. Life goes on and the shipping containers are an example of the New Zealand spirit.
Eleanor & Angie