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flar

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OTTAWA: Centretown 1

This is a late Victorian to early 20th century neighbourhood just south of downtown Ottawa. The neighbourhood features some great
looking townhouses and nice leafy streets. Centretown covers a large area and contains some of Ottawa's best Victorian housing, so
I'm doing it in parts. This part covers the area between Bronson and Kent.


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Hipster Duck

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The Victorian houses are nice enough, but those apartment towers each present the world with their decade's unique version of hideousness.
 

Archivist

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Centretown has not, indeed, been fortunate in its highrise development. The cluster of apartment buildings just off Bronson make for an extremely dead neighbourhood.
 

Hydrogen

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So true.

That line of highrises along Laurier certainly make for a dead neighbourhood. While the housing stock of Centretown can be quite nice in some areas, the neighbourhood still leaves much to be desired. Bronson is really nothing more than a dull arterial route. In fact, almost all of the north-south streets are dull and poorly-used. Bank is only now receiving an updating - the results of which remain to be seen.

The thing about Centretown is that it could be such an awesome area. Ottawa has a very compact downtown core that could easily be made into a jewel. Like so many cities, there are great plans but too little action.

Nevertheless, great photos!
 

flar

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Centretown is pretty quiet, but the streets are mostly nice and leafy and it's nice to walk through. I think Bank St. is pretty decent as a commercial street through this area (it will be covered when I do the eastern half of Centretown someday, right now Bank is all torn up for roadwork). The only other streets with bits of commercial are Somerset and Gladstone. Neither of the latter have anything approaching a streetwall, actually they're mostly residential and totally uninteresting through this particular stretch (though Somerset has some points of interest east and west of the area covered on this tour).
 

unimaginative2

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I remember when my father lived in Centretown in the mid-90s. It was always a pretty dead place. This was also before the Market really took off. It seems like the latter has more-or-less replaced Centretown as the downtown commercial and retail neighbourhood, while Centretown is a monocultural office and condo area.
 

flar

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I think the Byward Market has always been the commercial centre of Ottawa. Downtown has always had a lot of offices and government. From the few historical photos I've seen, I believe much of the area covered by apartments and offices was once a haphazard array of plain wooden houses, much like Hintonburg. Bank, Elgin and Sparks appear to be the main historic downtown commercial streets, while Wellington is all government. The other side of the canal (the market) seems to have functioned much more as a traditional "downtown" over the years.

Darkstar: I think the area around Somerset and Bank is the gay village. West on Somerset is Chinatown (I was a bit surprised Ottawa has a Chinatown). There is also something called Little Italy yet further west, but it doesn't amount to much as far as I can see.
 

nrb

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The active part of centretown is between bank and elgin, south of gloucester. Elgin being the nicest commercial strip in Ottawa, imo. This is where most of the older mid rise and high rise apartment buildings are clustered. I don't think it's fair to say it's "dead." I lived there awhile - the byward market has it's charms, but its very touristy.
 

nrb

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Darkstar: I think the area around Somerset and Bank is the gay village. West on Somerset is Chinatown (I was a bit surprised Ottawa has a Chinatown). There is also something called Little Italy yet further west, but it doesn't amount to much as far as I can see.

The gay village is very small and non descript, essentially between somerset and waverly, clustered around bank street. The only real evidence is a gay bookstore on bank, a bathhouse, and a gay bar on somerset. It's not really a gay village, in the same way that toronto has one. It's really more wishful thinking on the residents part I think.

Little italy is worth going to, there's some interesting postwar housing, some interesting restaurants (i saw in the news today, an employee of one of the most well known restaurants there was arrested on organized crime charges for coke trafficking - its that kind of area). But it's not really all that big. Still, it's completely different from most people's idea of ottawa.
 

Archivist

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I worked at Mags & Fags on Elgin for a long time, in the 1980's. I've always been fond of Elgin Street and sorry that it didn't become gayer. The village in Ottawa is more or less stillborn, but there is some hope there.

I also lived at the corner of Chinatown and Little Italy. Some good eatins there.
 

Long Island Mike

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Ottawa's Centretown Area...

Flar: It looks like you are definitely exploring Ottawa similar to how you pictured Hamilton when you lived there-good stuff indeed! There is lots of good small to medium sized brick/stone homes in that area-built to last as we all know!
I will mention these pics:
#1,4,6,23 and 44-Very interesting row house/building designs pictured...
#9-This could almost pass for a Toronto neighborhood...
#25 to 28-No shortage of high rise apartment buildings there also...
#43-I like the small house between the two larger ones in this pic...
#56-There are also some large brick/stone homes there also like this one...
#61-Neat porches in this quad building...
#66-This is almost Philadelphia or SE PA-like...
#68-Neat bike shop-it looks to me like it could be something in one of NYC's
Boroughs with that rough-around the edge look-the name ONE LESS CAR
is interesting also-the only thing missing is the "Jolly Roger" that should be
flying out front...
Observations from LI MIKE
 
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Hydrogen

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I worked at Mags & Fags on Elgin for a long time, in the 1980's. I've always been fond of Elgin Street and sorry that it didn't become gayer. The village in Ottawa is more or less stillborn, but there is some hope there.

Mags and Fags, my favourite magazine store while living in Ottawa! They had a great selection of newspapers.

As for the gay village, Ottawa's gay community is quite absorbed into the larger community. I had more gay friends living in Alta Vista than downtown.
 

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