The Quiet Modernist

Jardine House (right). Photo by See-ming Lee It’s late on a Monday afternoon and James Kinoshita is sitting at home in Hong Kong’s Sai Kung district with his son, Andrew. Overhead is a tile roof that slopes towards a garden of blooming azalea and bougainvillea; just beyond are the placid waters of Port Shelter. James […]

150 Years Ago in Hong Kong

Victoria Peak seen from Kellett Island Last week, an exhibition of images by 19th century Scottish photographer John Thomson opened at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum, including 22 photos of Hong Kong in the 1860s that have never been exhibited here before. I’ve written a story about the photos and their journey to Hong Kong […]

An Expat Childhood in 1930s Kowloon

Carnarvon Road, Tsim Sha Tsui in the 1930s When Joyce Fitch lived in Hong Kong, rickshaws were a form of public transport, the only way to cross Victoria Harbour was by boat and there were about 1.5 million people living in the territory. Fitch was born in England and spent most of her youth and […]

August 25, Three Decades Apart

Last week, the Archives de la Ville de Montréal uploaded a short series of photos taken on August 25, 1969, around Ste. Catherine and Sherbrooke streets. I’m always a fan of vintage street photography, especially from the relatively recent past, but these struck a real chord with me for one reason: it was on that […]

Posted in: Canada, History by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on August 25, Three Decades Apart , , ,

Graffiti Republic

Splat! Before Greece erupted into riots against austerity measures, before the sit-ins that convulsed public squares across Spain, long before 2011’s tumultuous protests against world financial systems began “kicking off everywhere“, things had long since kicked off in Argentina. The 2001 protests that gripped the country during its madcap financial crisis offered a sort of […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Latin America, Politics, Public Space by Christopher Szabla Comments Off on Graffiti Republic , , , , ,

Delving Brick Lane’s Layers

Early on a Friday morning, London’s Brick Lane bustles with Bangladeshis heading to prayers at the local mosque. The women wear brightly coloured saris and the men don long pastel robes, looking striking as they stride along this worn English street. A few hours later, they are gone and the feel of the street has […]

Montreal in the 1950s

Alfred Bohn arrived in Montreal from a small town in Germany fifty-three years ago. He lived with his wife Hannelore in an apartment on Clark Street just above Prince Arthur, next to two other European couples. The six of them used to spent their free time wandering around the city, taking photos of their new […]

Posted in: Canada, History by Christopher DeWolf 2 Comments , ,

Snowdon’s History Lives Online

Four years ago, on my way home in the aftermath of a tremendous December blizzard, I found myself wandering through Snowdon, a neighbourhood in Montreal’s west end. Trudging past waist-high snowbanks, I noticed stairs leading up to some kind of apartment courtyard. Curious, I ventured in and found an odd collection of shops: a tailor, […]

The Over-Regulated Street

Top: 1970s. Bottom: 2011. Photo by Lee Chi-man It’s always easy to depict a city’s changes through the broadest of strokes. Buildings fall so that others may rise; new roads are built; shops come and go. But the most important transformations are often the most subtle.

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Public Space, Transportation by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on The Over-Regulated Street , , , ,

The Lingering Ghost

On a bright summer day in 1996, Kate McDonnell was wandering through an alley in the eastern Plateau when she spotted the remnants of a hand-painted tobacco ad on the wall of an old triplex. Fifteen years later, Kate ventured down the same alley and, sure enough, the ad was still there, a bit more […]

Slow Heal

The Montreal metro being built under de Maisonneuve, early 1960s For a long time, the boulevard de Maisonneuve was one of my least favourite streets in Montreal. It was built in the 1960s by linking and widening four distinct streets: de Montigny, Burnside, St. Luc and Western. The final product was a Frankenstein’s monster of […]

An Alternate Map of Manhattan

The original, ca. 1800 Mangin-Goerck Plan (top) and part of the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811, as engraved by William Bridges Last month, New York celebrated the bicentennial of one of its most iconic works of engineering and urban design — Manhattan’s grid. The 1811 street layout was officially known as the Commissioners’ Plan, but its […]

Posted in: History, Maps, United States by Christopher Szabla Comments Off on An Alternate Map of Manhattan , , , , ,

Voodoo Gentrification

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpjL0mz3IJM[/youtube] You’ve probably heard the term “voodoo economics” before. Famously used by George H.W. Bush to denounce Ronald Reagan’s theory of trickle-down wealth when the two were vying head-to-head for the 1980 Republican presidential nomination, they never again escaped the elder Bush’s lips after he became Reagan’s running mate in that year’s general election. The […]

“There is Nothing Here”

Then-and-now impresario Lee Chi-man uploaded this compilation the other day. It depicts Shin Wong Street as seen from Hollywood Road, in Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan district, in 1969 and 2011. Lee accompanied the image with a short, poignant inscription, in Chinese, which Laine Tam took the liberty of translating: When I was taking this picture, […]

Posted in: Architecture, Asia Pacific, Heritage and Preservation, Public Space by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on “There is Nothing Here” , , ,