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Old photos of Calgary

It's always interesting to see photos from the 70's and 80's but these really old ones are gems.

A photo and map from the same year. 1898. The photo has the Elbow River in the forefront, and Fort Calgary in the mid-view. The carved looking path going up the hill in the background is Edmonton Trail.



This is a rough approximation of what the photo would look like today. Not as close to the River of course, but the same general direction.

Hell of a lot more trees now than any time in the last… 40,000 years? Maybe longer? Since at least the last interglacial.
Calgary back in 1925. Amazing urban scene of people and streetcars, especially for a city that had less than 100k

View attachment 507737
Good illustration of the secret of vibrancy and urban life - walkability. All you have to do is put enough people close enough together that they walk most places (or can take a short street car). Back in this era it was all intuitive and obvious - why wouldn't we put stuff closer together so people could walk? Cars were still new and limited, street cars worked well.

Modern day examples still exist in many small walkable towns the world over, but closer to home, popular mountain resort towns. Banff doesn't look too dissimilar to this photo - throw 30 - 50,000 daily visitors into a small and walkable core area and you have plenty of activity and supporting retail vibrancy. You don't necessarily need millions of people to have a vibrant street life.

Of course, Calgary (and many other places) don't look like this anymore despite having many times more people overall because we bleached the life out of much of the core with office blocks and wide and unpleasant arterials, while also depopulated much of the inner city to further, car dependent locations. All that car-oriented infrastructure and streets, combined with segregated land uses actively work against walkability that requires short distances - that are ideally also not unpleasant asphalt hellscapes.

Good news is this is all shifting back to a new peak vibrancy period in the future - pockets of the Beltline are heading back towards this level of vibrancy, and it only took 10,000 - 20,000 in population growth in a walkable format to do so in the last decade or two. Fast forward another 50 years of growth and there's 100,000+ in inner city it will be revolutionary to street life here.