*tangent* – recently (past three months or so) I’ve noticed that I’m becoming more ambivalent (than usual) toward planning research. As identified in a class last night, planning research is not linear often leads to yet another “$50,000 dollar study to explore the causality between walking and the number of movie rental stores in the neighborhood”. Can research be an excuse not to do anything? That is where science, tech and engineering deep-sixes the pseudo-sciences…they seem to go places with their knowledge.
The point is, while I should be diligently scribbling away on my Master’s report, I finding wandering around Portsmouth Village far more fulfilling and useful. Taking crappy photos, thinking about the space and then forcing my thoughts onto the internet feels like a better and more tangible use of time and energy than reading yet another article (complete with Chi2, R2 and other advanced numbers) about why walking, affordable housing and growing food etc. is good for us.
So, this is Portsmouth Village (est. 1784). It’s got everything one needs in a complete, mixed-use village. Pub, pharmacy, secondary suites, sidewalks, places of worship, sushi, sandwiches, hardware store, giant anchors, sailors, the 1976 Olympic summer games, ample green-space, some brown-space, museums, water, houses, mini-vans, trucks-on-blocks, traffic, trees, shrubberies, convicts, boats, small dogs, trash, home businesses, bikes, a general stores, movie rentals, a laundromat, an insane asylum, modernist buildings, new urbanist stuff, old limestone homes, old wood homes, underground parking, graffiti, government hacks, empty park benches, ducks and other small woodland creatures and most importantly, a Yonge Street.
Unlike Kingston’s other attempt at New Urbanism, the Portsmouth development actually seems to work…kind of. At best, it jives well with the older architecture, at worst it adds another layer of diversity to an already patchwork of buildings and styles.
One of the nicest parts of Portsmouth Village is the waterfront trail which bypasses the old (and very creepy) psychiatric hospital and links into Lake Ontario Park.
If one is not down with limestone architecture, there are a couple of lakeshore condos. Not much too look at, but they offer a killer location.
Had a bad day? Or maybe you just want to ask your girlfriend to marry you. There is plenty of old concrete wall space @ the abandoned crazy house for all of your public message needs.
This inukshuk is guarding against American invasion.
Lake Ontario Park shoreline. There is a small graffittied cavern near the boulder on the horizon.
Delicious and nutritious Lake Ontario water.
A message to God, enshrined on stone.
Back in the day the old psychiatric hospital obviously wasn’t big enough.
Did you take your meds today?
Heavily modified limestone home, next to a post-war house, next too a duplex. All kinds of homes here.
Presently, Tim Horton’s is the heart and soul of Portsmouth Village, providing nourishment to thousands of downtown commuters, local residents, St Lawrence College students and prison staff each week. Unfortunately, it is also the ugliest addition to the community and has brilliantly succeeded in destroying the historic value within the center of the Village.
The main drag. Must like traffic to live here.
It’s just a good, interesting and nice place to live which embodies pretty simple and basic planning principles. Building diversity, mix uses, functional green spaces, tight and multi-modal transport friendly, good connections to the greater community. Nothing fancy here…no over-designed, over-planned, over-researched, over-budged approaches. Sure it has it’s bad eggs, the Tim’s, the traffic down the centre, some inefficient land uses and strange parcel designs, some gentrification, but it is fairly obvious that the community works. I’m sure that most people would agree. Keep it simple. Planning doesn’t need to be rocket science. 90% is just observation. Good spaces have been around for centuries…Portsmouth is testament to that.