Stairway to Nowhere

For me, one of the defining pieces of urban infrastructure in Ottawa are were the spiral staircases on the MacKenzie King Bridge. I can’t say I ever used them much, but they were so unique, so visually interesting, so “fun” looking. And now they are gone.

thanks for the photos to reader Tinny-Peete

Why are they gone? The official reason is structural decay. Hard to argue with that, eh? But I suspect other forces were at play. One is handicapism, where everything has to be designed to be universally accessible (except for roads). During the construction of the new convention centre nearby, a straight staircase and an elevator-in-an-icecream-cone were installed. They are nowhere near as visible, nor interesting-looking. Dull. The very entrance of the elevator on the upper level makes me wary; I have no idea where it actually comes out at the foggy bottom otherwise inhabited by neglected planters of dried up plants.

We also live an age plagued by an over-supply of lawyers. And the concomitant fear, conveniently so good for business for those same lawyers, of being sued for anything. And those spiral stairs are subject to legal assault on numerous grounds: the stair treads are triangles, so each user’s foot hits a tread of a different size, they are easy to stumble on, etc.

So bid a fond farewell to the staircases, now to be enjoyed only in pictures of what used to be.

4 thoughts on “Stairway to Nowhere

  1. Those were great stairs! Sorry to see them go. I knew about this and hiked up and down for the last time a couple of months ago. Since it was the middle of the night and I’d only had the one beer I ascended the risky way – climbing on the wee triangles jutting out past the railing on the inside of the curve.

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