Argyle Street (Halifax)

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Bars and restaurants on Argyle Street, before the streetscaping project

Argyle Street is located in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. It is four city blocks and approximately 460 metres long. The street is a popular centre for live music, nightlife, theatre, and al fresco dining.

History[edit]

Argyle Street before the streetscaping project, showing temporary walkways created to make room for sidewalk cafés. This arrangement is no longer necessary following the 2016-17 streetscape improvement project.

Argyle Street was laid out in the town plan that was drawn up by British settlers upon their arrival in 1749. It was reportedly named after the Duke of Argyll of the so-called Broad Bottom ministry, but was misspelled.[1] It formerly ran two blocks north of its present terminus, but this portion was covered by the Scotia Square urban renewal project in the 1960s, which saw several city blocks consolidated to facilitate the construction of an introverted shopping, office, and hotel complex.[2]

The culture of sidewalk cafés in downtown Halifax originated in the 1990s on Argyle Street. During the 1995 G7 summit, a vacant lot opposite the Grand Parade was turned into a successful outdoor "International Café". This spurred enthusiasm for outdoor dining in downtown Halifax, and a pilot sidewalk café was opened on Argyle Street the same year. The municipality developed a formal policy to facilitate sidewalk cafés in May 1997, and more such cafés were established, on a seasonal basis, on Argyle Street and elsewhere in the downtown area. Sidewalk cafés contributed to increased pedestrian numbers in downtown Halifax, and are considered to have improved both the liveability and tourism appeal of the area. They are now encouraged by both the city's Regional Plan and Cultural Plan.[3]

Streetscaping project[edit]

Argyle Street in November 2017, following the streetscape improvement project

Pilot project[edit]

An effort has been made in recent years to improve the streetscape of the southern half of Argyle Street. In March 2015, regional council approved a pilot project to widen the pedestrian right-of-way and paint the street a bright blue Argyle pattern.[4] City planners and business owners hoped the efforts would improve walkability and attract more people to the area.[5] The pilot project was implemented in July 2015.[6]

Permanent redesign[edit]

Following the pilot project, the same section of Argyle Street was completely reconstructed (along with part of Grafton Street) as an "urban plaza".[7] Ekistics Plan + Design out of Dartmouth, NS was engaged for the detailed design of the project[8]. The conventional asphalt and sidewalk were replaced with high-quality pavers, and the street was made level, with few curbs. The street remained one-way, as it was before. The pedestrian zone was widened, allowing businesses to keep furniture outdoors year-round, and obviating the need for the previous temporary boardwalks.[9] A city planner explained that the project would support the entertainment industry, improve the pedestrian environment, and increase the number of trees along the street.[7] The street remains open to traffic, but can be closed to allow for outdoor concerts, festivals, and other events. It functions similar to a shared space, an urban design approach that seeks to minimize segregation between different modes of transportation.

Construction was carried out during the summer of 2017. Some businesses complained about the disruption, as sidewalk patios could not be permitted as usual that year. In response, Mayor Mike Savage and Councillor Waye Mason emphasized the "long-term gain" of the new streetscape, and stated that the city would get construction done as quickly as possible.[10]

The final paver was installed in a ceremonial street party on Saturday, 4 November 2017, with live music, beer, and games. The street will reopen to vehicular traffic on 7 November 2017.[11] In the Best of Halifax reader's choice awards, held annually by The Coast, the project won the silver award in the "Best Effort to Improve Halifax" category.[12]

Landmarks[edit]

Ordered from north to south:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cuthbertson, Brian (1999). "History of the Grand Parade and Halifax City Hall". Journal of the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society. 2: 70–93. ISSN 1486-5920.
  2. ^ Parsons Doehler, Joan (March 2001). Scotia Square: Its Impact on the Downtown Core (PDF). Halifax, Nova Scotia: Dalhousie University.
  3. ^ "Reclaiming Streets for People: Sidewalk Cafés in Downtown Halifax, Argyle Street (Case Study 41)". Urban Transportation Showcase Program. Transport Canada. June 2006. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  4. ^ Mancini, Melissa (12 March 2015). "Argyle Street pedestrian thoroughfare approved by council". CBC News.
  5. ^ "Argyle Street redesign in Halifax to see palm trees, street painted blue". CBC News. 20 July 2015.
  6. ^ Ryan, Haley (27 July 2015). "'That's cool:' Argyle Street launches weekend closures with Halifax block party". Metro Halifax.
  7. ^ a b Macintosh, Ben (31 March 2017). "Streetscape project to make Argyle Street 'unlike any other' in Halifax". Metro Halifax.
  8. ^ http://www.form-media.ca/argyle-and-grafton-shared-street
  9. ^ "Halifax's Argyle and Grafton streets to lose patio season to streetscaping". CBC News. 30 March 2017.
  10. ^ Patil, Anjuli (5 April 2017). "Argyle Street streetscape will be worth the wait: mayor, councillor". CBC News.
  11. ^ Berman, Pam (4 November 2017). "Argyle Street opens with a party after months of construction". CBC News.
  12. ^ "Best Effort To Improve Halifax". The Coast. Retrieved 6 November 2017.