On the last day of streetcar service in Ottawa in May 1959, a farewell parade was held of equipment and personalities. This picture is taken from the crest of the Somerset Viaduct, right at what is now the OTrain Trillium Line overpass.
Slightly downhill to the right the white building is now a Buddhist Temple; St Jean Baptiste priory can be see silhouetted on the left horizon; Preston Street runs across Somerset at the bottom of the hill.
Double click the picture to enlarge it. Notice the very decorative railing on the left, just visible between the parked cars. And the decorative lampposts. (Recall a few stories back, we saw pic of the new Portland street lights that are very similar to these ones). The City declared the railing to have no heritage value and it was broken up when the road was widened in the 1970’s.
The road widening was never warranted for car traffic, so in the last decade the road was put on a diet, reduced once again to one motor vehicle lane in each direction, but now with a bike lane and wider walkways.
I recall trying back then to interest the city in the heritage value of the railings, or reusing them in the new park being designed for Primrose. Said park was recently redesigned and refreshed. Apart from the addition of a spray pad, the rest of the changes seem to me to be of decidedly dubious value.
I start to doubt my own memory of the railing on the Somerset viaduct, as I recall it was made of cast stone, with an aggregate finish, and quite decorative. It was a more aesthetic version of the concrete railing on Bank going over the canal at Lansdowne. Maybe the viaduct had both railings, either at different times, or had one type on part of the bridge and the iron railing only at the actual bridges over the railways. Anyhow, the City reacted in horror at the idea of reusing the stone railing sections in a park. About five years later they gave themselves a prize for doing just that at Strathcona Park (architectural salvage and historic repurposing, it is now called). Later, they lavished lots of praise on reconstructions of the concrete railing on Bank Street where it crosses the canal, and gave itself another prize.
As in all things municipal, class and wealth and trendiness play a prominent role.
Here’s another shot of that railing and lamp post, with a view of the north end of giant public works warehouse which has just been partially demolished:
If you stand on that bridge today, and look over the edge, you’ll see an interesting brick building with a vaguely Dutch front façade and a genuine slate tile roof. It now houses Orange Gallery. The City insists that building has no heritage value either.
Some things just don’t change.