Like many North American cities today, there are plans in Hamilton (pop. 505, 000) to re-vitalize their once glorious downtown. The first start is being made by
The Hamilton Business Improvement Association (B.I.A.) and the
City of Hamilton.
The Gore Park Promenade, (not to be confused with
Gage Park on Main Street E.) smack-dab in the middle of downtown is taking on new life. This is a downtown in transition.
When I visited on a sunny Friday afternoon, it was alive with activity. An eclectic group of artists, artisans and entrepreneurs, had set up tents under lovely mature trees. They were selling everything from jewelry to cupcakes. There was even live music.
The first thing to notice in the park is the magnificent Gore Park Fountain. It was built in the late 19th century and re-furbished about a dozen years ago. Mike Andrushko, a veteran tarot card reader, and one of the vendors, had set-up near the fountain. He explained, "It's an attempt to bring more people to the downtown area of the city because for many years the park has been used by transients."
It seemed Friday afternoon to be working. There were lots of office workers and visitors enjoying the green space. However, on the nearby sidewalks, there was the usual crowd hanging out. Some were waiting to go into Tim Horton's (it's the only Tim Horton's that I've seen with a security guard outside) and others were trying to sell you something; and some were trying to save your souls.
Back to the Gore Park Promenade. One of the summer students working on the re-vitalization of the park explained, "The city has recently taken the
buses out of this area and we simply wanted to take advantage of space that is available to us and bring more business to downtown." This is the first year of the program which runs
from 11 am until 6 pm every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday until September 2nd. Live performances take place between 11 am and 2 pm each of these days. The popular
Steve Burnside and the Marquis from Niagara perform on Wednesday, August 17th.
A word of caution; parking is very limited. If you intend to park in one nearby private lot bring lots of toonies. The charge to feed the meters is $3.00 per half hour, and if you come back late expect a $75.00 ticket on the windshield. On the other hand, if you park at the nearby City of Hamilton indoor parking garage (look for the circle with the green P in the middle) at the corner of McNab St. N and York Boulevard, parking is reasonable - $6.00 all day. GPS users can punch in 55 York Boulevard.
When here, visit the newly renovated indoor
Hamilton Farmers' Market. The market is a real gem. It has rows of fruit and vegetable stands. You'll be bombarded with smells. Everything from fresh flowers, cheeses, and fish and bakery items will give your nose a work out. Try the $2.00 butter tarts at de la terre artisan bakery made with fresh Niagara Honey.
One interesting find inside the market is the newly restored historic Birks Clock that now hangs from the ceiling of the market. It was built in 1930 and originally commissioned by Birks Jewelers. It once stood at the corner of King and James Street. The bronze clock weights 907 kilograms (2000 pounds), and is almost 5.2 metres (17 feet tall).
If you fancy some more indoor shopping Jackson Square is within walking distance.
George Bailey contributes to Sun Media's 43 paid-circulation newspapers across Canada as well as numerous magazines. George has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, Canada AM, The Discovery Channel, and Live with Regis and Cathy Lee. He has published five books on Niagara Falls.