The future of Calgary, a hundred years past: Revisiting the Mawson Plan | Calgary Herald

Saturday evening traffic was light along Andrew Davison Drive on a diagonal beeline to the Alberta Performing Arts Centre on Prince’s Island. We couldn’t find a spot anywhere closer than the Old Calgary Market, so my wife and I had to walk all the way from 9th Avenue in the rain, with one umbrella between us, not large enough to share. Every time we left the bone-dry arcades and crossed through the intersection I got drenched. After the ballet, we left the island and got splashed again by a bachelorette party running out of the civic plaza fountain. It took a few glasses of shiraz at the Calgary Station’s wine bar back on 9th to restore my mood.

That’s a decent night on the town in the modern-day Calgary that Thomas Mawson sketched out a century ago, in the first civic plan for the city. It was designed to take a a 50,000-person rail outpost with a promising cowboy festival and stockyards, and turn it into Vienna on the Bow.

It was bold. Beautiful. Neo-classical. Doomed to fail, and destined to inspire generations of local planners after him.

Thomas Mawson, a British horticulturalist with a knack for urban vision, had his commissioned A Preliminary Scheme for Controlling the Economic Growth of the City first broadcast to citizens in the Calgary Herald on April 30, 1914. One hundred years ago today.

via The future of Calgary, a hundred years past: Revisiting the Mawson Plan | Calgary Herald.

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