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A transformation into something magical

Grannan Street, Saint John, New Brunswick

grannanSome of you may know that I love Saint John’s alleys and have done various stories on them over the years such as HERE, HERE and HERE.

These were all stories on the “what ifs” and untapped potential of our alleys but today some creative and talented folks at ACRE Architects took it upon themselves to transform one of our alleys in to a magical “art installation” called “THE PARK”.  As they say, many hands make light work and there were many helping string a mini light canopy from one side of this Grannan Street alley to the other. I found it perfectly fitting that the whole scene this afternoon was kissed by a gentle fog and, strangely, bubbles were also floating by.

A quick search for @historicadev on twitter uncovered this “It’s happening. It’s today. It’s free. 7pm – Uptown Saint John – 17 Public Art Installations #thirdshiftsj“.

According to the website “Third Space Gallery invites you to Third Shift. Saint John, New Brunswick’s first ever night-time, outdoor art festival. Art works after hours…” I can’t wait to see it after dark!

Potential in our #renaissancecity alleys

alleygria alley

Alley between 125 Prince William & 115 Prince William. Photo via bill lapp on Flickr

I was on this kick last year and it garnered a lot of interest. Now that spring is here, I’m thinking about our alleys again… Jardine’s Alley, North Market Street, the former “Alley Gria” alley (featured in photo above) and more. They all hold potential!

I would encourage you to tweet photos of the uptown Saint John alleys that you think have hidden potential. I’m not talking about permanent closure/conversion but even for temporary event space. Don’t forget to use the #renaissancecity and/or #livelifeuptown hashtags so everyone can see them! Looking for some inspiration? click HERE

South Market Street Concept…follow up…

south market

I was surprised and delighted to see the interest in “Concept for South Market Street”. The blog post was off-the-cuff inspired by a photo of a transformed alley in Auckland that reminded me of our South Market Street. If you didn’t see the original story, you can read it here.  The idea really took off when Mayor Mel Norton shared it with his followers on Google+ and on Facebook.

My BLOG post has had over 500 views in 3 days.

Mayor Mel’s sharing of the story generated the following interest on Facebook:


There were some naysayers but, I think, in general the comments were enthusiastically in favour of making South Market Street for pedestrians only.

Since the story generated so much interest, I did a little more on-line research on the subject and found an interesting article entitled “Urban alleys become pathways to revitalization”. The article described how 7 U.S. cities successfully transformed alleys in their urban cores. You can read that article here.

alley follow up pop up brewery

Brewer’s Alley at the Rialto Cafe in Denver.


Concept for South Market Street

Many people like the idea of closing South Market Street and turning it in to a pedestrian only area. I’ll admit there are many obstacles to overcome in making this idea a reality. What about City Market deliveries you may ask? I’m told that in european cities, where such streets are thriving, shops receive deliveries early in the a.m. to avoid conflict with the public using the space during business hours.

I came across some beautiful photos on-line of a lane in Auckland which was converted in to a restaurant/bakery. This particular lane already had a “roof” but it’s easy to imagine South Market Street enclosed overhead. It was even built on a slope… just like our street! What do you think?