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Monday, March 21, 2011

memories in Christchurch

After the earthquake, so many of the places I have built my memories around are changed forever. I thought I would do a blog post in memory of some of my favourite haunts. Some may be rebuilt, but the majority have become (or soon will become) an empty slate for the future.

ChristChurch Cathedral is the giant of this list for most Cantabrians. It was the distinctive icon of our city. Located literally in the centre of Christchurch, with the town built around it, all roads pointing in towards it, it seemed impregnable. When someone told me, after the quake, that they couldn't see the spire of the cathedral from their office as usual, I simply couldn't believe it and told them it must have been the misty conditions.
This photo was taken at dawn on Anzac Day - April 25, 2010 - when we remembered our fallen soldiers outside the cathedral.
This is the cathedral now.

The Canterbury Provincial Chambers were the former seat of local government. I wandered round them maybe once a year, took photos, enjoyed the stained glass and thought how lucky I was to live somewhere with buildings like this. The photos I took I often used for Halfway Down the Stairs; in fact the profile picture for our facebook page currently uses a photo from the Provincial Chambers.

Here is a picture of my friend K. before our graduation in 2008. For University of Canterbury graduations, all graduands march from here, the Arts Centre (the former site of the university), to the town hall - about seven minutes walk - where the ceremony begins. K. is standing in front of the Court Theatre, one of Christchurch's best theatres, which like almost all of them has undergone such extensive damage it is unclear whether it will ever open again. I think the UC graduation processions will be a long time coming, too. I would love to be able to graduate with my MA properly. It would be even more meaningful after the experiences of this year. But... I'm trying not to get my hopes up.

This is my favourite secondhand bookstore. (Photo from Google Maps streetview - 9 Riccarton Road.) It was run by a church, nonprofit for a charity, and every book was $2 or $3 TOPS.
It's a rather more shocking view now - and, sadly, someone died in its rubble.

The band rotunda in Hagley Park, where I sometimes take my nieces to dance and sing. (I'm not sure why, but it seems like a good place to dance around singing songs from Mary Poppins.) I haven't seen any photos, but I understand it's badly damaged now.

The Dux de Lux - pictured here featuring my friends in the outdoor area. This was my favourite restaurant/bar. I had my birthday dinner there five months ago and I've popped in for coffee or a beer at least four times since then. One of the pleasantest, most vibrant places in town for a drink, on the edge of the Arts Centre. It was the Student Union building when my dad was at university.
I walked past it on Friday - it's at the edge of the cordon, which my flatmate and I wandered around after the memorial service at Hagley Park. Doesn't look particularly good, but it does look salvageable. I hope it comes back fighting, as strong as ever.

St John's Latimer Square, an evangelical Anglican church, where my sister was married in 2004 (above), and where a bunch of my friends go. This was one of the buildings that sustained most damage in the September earthquakes, and I could only find a photo of it as it was in September. I understand it is all but destroyed now.
Heritage churches in general have not come out of the earthquakes well.

The Catholic Basilica towered over the Christchurch School of Music, where I spent every Saturday morning and many Tuesday evenings during my childhood and teen years. A beautiful building inside and out, I also entered it to perform in concerts. I will always remember performing Allegri's 'Miserere Mei, Deus' in my recorder ensemble from an upper gallery - the acoustics so perfect that the music we made sounded like the most angelic thing I had ever heard. I took this photo about nine years ago while I waited for my parents to pick me up.


Stacy said...

Wow, Allie. Can I repeat how glad I am that you and your friends and family are all right?

heidikins said...

Oh my goodness, this is just...heartbreaking. I am so glad you are alright, you and yours continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.


Allie said...

Thanks :) I don't want to fish for sympathy, and I'm coming to terms with the changes to the city. It's actually kind of exciting to imagine the creativity that will be unleashed over the next ten years or more in the rebuild. Now that I have a little more distance I can celebrate what we've lost and feel glad that I took opportunities to appreciate it while we had it.

(The changes especially pale in comparison with the damage in Japan. In a way, being through what we've been through allows us to say we understand their plight - but at the same time our situation is just so much better than theirs. I don't think I've ever felt such horror as when I watched the breaking news about Japan, because for the first time I had some conception of what it might be like. Then I felt even more horrified because it became clear that I DIDN'T know what it was like.)

Sarakastic said...

What a beautiful place to live, so sorry for all of it.