This week in Christchurch history (17 – 23 November)

17 November 1895
Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens) visits. He described Christchurch as a town where half the people rode bicycles and the other half were kept busy dodging them.

18 November 1947
Disastrous fire in Ballantynes Department store. 41 lives lost in New Zealand’s worst fire tragedy. The fire led to drastic revisions of fire safety codes throughout the country.

21 November 1865
Provincial Council buildings in Durham Street completed. The complex of buildings was architect B.W. Mountfort’s masterpiece. He had survived a professional disaster soon after arrival in New Zealand when his first building, a church in Lyttelton, had proved structurally unsound and had to be demolished.

Photo of Provincial Government Buildings, corner of Durham and Armagh Streets, Christchurch [ca. 1885]
Provincial Government Buildings, corner of Durham and Armagh Streets, Christchurch [ca. 1885] Christchurch City Libraries, CCL Photo Collection 22, Img01251
22 November 1986
Visit by Pope John Paul II (the first head of the Catholic Church to visit New Zealand).

22 November 1987
Trans Alpine express train, designed specifically for the tourist trade, begins its daily run from Christchurch to Greymouth.

23 November 1988
Human remains dating back to pre-European Māori settlement found while excavating for YMCA building on the corner of Hereford Street and Rolleston Avenue. Area declared tapu for 24 hours until remains removed.

More November events in the Chronology.

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