Cathedral Square: Past and Future

Cathedral Square has long been an important civic space for Christchurch. In its time it has functioned as a transport hub and “movie theatre central”. It’s been a meeting place, and a stage for political protest, debate and speeches. It has been the home to markets, tourism operators, and of course, a cathedral. Numerous concerts have been held there and recently it has hosted a temporary ice-rink. From mid next year it will also have a shiny, new library in its North-East corner.

Regenerate Christchurch recently released some draft concepts for what Cathedral Square might look like in the future. And they are looking for feedback (until 21 August – so get in with your reckons).

Cathedral Square is a place with a many memories for Christchurch people and it has changed a great deal over the years. So while you’re considering what The Square of the future should be like, have a look at these glimpses of its past.

Crowd in Cathedral Square, Christchurch, celebrating Armistice Day. Head, Samuel Heath, d 1948 :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-007108-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22898377

 

Love the special sign for “Pedestrians” in this street photo from 1938.

Naomi Poulsen and friends in front of the Cathedral, 1938. by CCL Photo Hunt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

 

Victory celebration stirs Christchurch crowds. Christchurch turned out yesterday en masse to attend the second day of Victory Celebrations. A section of the crowd in the Square. 10 May 1945, The Press, 11 May 1945, p.8

 

Though there’s no date provided for this photo of Cathedral Square covered in snow, the presence of the Citizens’ War Memorial, far left, (unveiled in 1937) means it might be the snow of July, 1945.

Snow in town, Cathedral. by CCL Photo Hunt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

 

The Plaza Theatre originally opened as The Strand in 1917. In this photo the neighbouring United Service Hotel can be seen at left with the Women’s Rest Rooms at right. The theatre was demolished in 1990.

Plaza Theatre, Cathedral Square, 1946. Plaza Theatre, Cathedral Square by Patricia Scott is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

 

Jacqui Taylor’s father leading a procession in front of the Christchurch Cathedral. He sang in the Cathedral Choir, Late 1940’s, File reference: HW10-S-Fe-020. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivatives 3.0 New Zealand License

 

Cathedral Square decorated in honour of the Queen and Prince Phillip. Date: 1950s by CCL Photo Hunt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

 

A common street photograph pose near the Citizens’ War Memorial.

Pauline Ormandy (left) and Colleen Finn (right) by the Cathedral as 16 year olds. File reference: HW10-Sh-161 Cathedral Cuties, 1964, by CCL Photo Hunt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivatives 3.0 New Zealand

 

Long hair and sandals in the seventies.

This was taken in the Square in Easter 1971, File Reference: HWC08-ANZC-080, Bible Lady by CityScape is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

 

An orderly bus queue on a sunny afternoon, in the late 70s or early 80s.

Chief Post Office by CCL Photo Hunt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

 

Obligatory Wizard photo.

The Wizard (“C’mon Canterbury”) on ladder). I took this photo in Cathedral Square early in 1982. I later returned and gave the wizard a copy. He showed it to the crowd, announcing himself to be “A living work of art”. The Wizard, Cathedral Square, 1982 by Julia Thomas is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

 

A busy day in Cathedral Square, probably in the 1990s

View of Post Office buildings in the Square by CCL Photo Hunt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

 

Christchurch Arts Festival sculpture “Snow Orchid” and Speigeltent venue in background, 2007.

Snow Orchid was installed in Cathedral Square for the 2007 Christchurch Arts Festival. The work was designed by Strategy Design and Advertising and constructed by Warwick Bell of Fabric Structure Systems. Snow Orchid Christchurch Arts Festival 2007 DSC06625 by SueC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

 

Many protests and demonstrations have taken place in Cathedral Square over the years. This one in 2010 resulted in Neville Toohey being arrested.

Neville Toohey locked himself on the balcony of the Christchurch Cathedral and unfurled a banner with the name of his anti-ACC website over the side of the building. Mr Toohey was protesting after being denied back surgery by ACC. After spending the night on the balcony, Mr Toohey left the Cathedral at 1.00pm and was arrested and charged with trespass. ACC Protest, Cathedral Square, Christchurch, 26 March 2010 by KeteScape is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

 

Cathedral Square as it looks now. But what does the future hold?

Christchurch: Where the children of today enjoy and shape the dreams of tomorrow, 10 October 2014. Entry in the Christchurch City Council Long Term Plan 2015 – 2025 Photography Competition by Len Jingco. LTPLeJi by SueC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

Find out more

Cathedral Square by Night 1959: Picturing Canterbury

Cathedral Square by Night 1959. Kete Christchurch. Ph16-IsTw-C-W-PICT0047. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.

“Cathedral Square by night the northwest corner with the start of Chancery Lane under the bright white light. The Tivoli theatre later became the Westend, a huge cinema (scene of many happy nights out in my teenage years) complete with cat known to sleep on seats at the back. The old building to the left was later the site of the AMP building, and the one to the right became the Government Life building.”

Date: 18 August 1959.

Entry in the 2016 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt by Isabel Tweedy.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Do you have any further photographs of Cathedral Square in the 1950s? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

80 years old : Citizens’ War Memorial (Cathedral Square)

The Citizens’ War Memorial is still there, hidden behind the cordon.

Citizens' War Memorial
Citizen’s War Memorial. 2007. Flickr File reference CCL-2013-01-15-DSC05887

The Citizens’ War Memorial has stood outside the  Christchurch Anglican Cathedral for eighty years. She survived the earthquakes of 2010/2011 undamaged.

On 9 June 1937 the statue was unveiled by Colonel S.C.P. Nicholls, after a service by Anglican Archbishop Julius.

Originally modelled in clay by local artist William Trethewey, the moulds for the statue were sent to England to be cast in bronze by A.B Burton.

There are six figures in the statue.

Seated with outstretched arms is a figure representing the Mothers of the Empire in an attitude of grief for her lost sons.

St George, in armour, is on the right, facing the Cathedral. He represents valour and protection. On the other side is Youth, holding a torch.

Above St George is Peace, who holds an olive Branch and a dove. Next to her is Justice, who is blindfolded and carries a set of scales, a symbol of balance.

The Angel at the top (my Dad’s favourite) is breaking a sword. She was to be called Victory, but it was decided not to name her.

Peek through the fence surrounding Christchurch Cathedral at this wonderful statue. It’s still there amongst the weeds…

Further information

Cathedral Balloons, Kidsfest 2007: Picturing Canterbury

Cathedral balloons, 2007.
Balloons in the Square for the opening of Kidsfest 2007. File Reference:MeOp-PH14-cathedral-balloons-2007.jpg. Entry in the 2014 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt by Melanie Opie. CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 NZ.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Government Life building in Cathedral Square – opened 17 July 1964

On 17 July 1964 the Government Life Building opened in Cathedral Square. One of my favourite photos in our entire collection is this one of its construction –Workers on top of Government Life. For me, it is the Ōtautahi version of the famous Lunch atop a Skyscraper (New York Construction Workers Lunching on a Crossbeam).

The Post Office tower is dwarfed in this view, taken from the top of the Government Life Insurance building in the Square.  [Mar. 1963] CCL PhotoCD 11, IMG0059
The Post Office tower is dwarfed in this view, taken from the top of the Government Life Insurance building in the Square. [Mar. 1963] CCL PhotoCD 11, IMG0059

That iconic clock has been a landmark of the central city – when it was turned off lots of us missed looking up to see the time (and the temperature).

Government Life Building showing clock 12:45 4 July 1963 CCCPlans Government-Life-11-2
Government Life Building showing clock 12:45 4 July 1963 CCCPlans Government-Life-11-2

In the 1965 photo above, you can see it is 1:52pm.

Christchurch Cathedral Junction and Woodwards Corner, Kete Christchurch Christchurch Cathedral Junction and Woodwards Corner, 1965. Kete Christchurch

Post earthquakes, Mike Hewson’s artwork Government Life Suspension reflected the building back for us.

Government life art by Mike Hewson. Tuesday 22 January 2013. Flickr: CCL-2013-01-22-IMG_2308
Government life art by Mike Hewson. Tuesday 22 January 2013. Flickr: CCL-2013-01-22-IMG_2308

The Government Life building was demolished in 2014.

Government Life building. Wednesday 18 June 2014. Flickr: 2014-06-17-IMG_0287
Government Life building. Wednesday 18 June 2014. Flickr: 2014-06-17-IMG_0287

Government Life demolition
Government Life demolition. Thursday 16 October 2014. Flickr 2014-10-16-IMG_2635

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Korean Day is back!

Korean Day is coming back again this year. It will take place in Cathedral Square between 11am and 4pm on Saturday 29th November 2014.

Korean Day 2013 - Dancer
Performer at Korean Day 2013.
Christchurch City Libraries, CCL-2013-11-30-Korean-Day-2013 IMG_8266.JPG.

This special day first started in 2013, when it had the distinction of being the first public event held in Cathedral Square after the February 2011 earthquake. This was an important milestone in the reintegration of Cathedral Square in the cultural life of the city.

Korean Day has quickly become an important cultural event on the Christchurch calendar, as well as being the biggest event for the Korean community in the whole South Island.

The organisers of the day, the Korean Society in Christchurch, see the event as an opportunity to help build strong ties with other local communities through collaborative performances.

The day promises to be a unique showcase of shared artistic values. You can look forward to traditional Korean dancing, as well as music and pieces by guest performers. A special guest will be Park Choon-Hee, Mayor of Songpa-gu, Christchurch’s Korean Sister City. And of course there will be lots of delicious food to sample, and plenty of entertainment for the whole family.

Korean Day Display
Korean Day display at Upper Riccarton Library

So make sure you don’t miss out this fun opportunity to let go of the daily stresses and to recharge your batteries – come along and get a chance to experience Korean culture!

Hope to see you there!

Jo Yang
Network Library Assistant

Government Life building in Cathedral Square – opened 50 years ago today

On 17 July 1964 the Government Life Building opened in Cathedral Square. One of my favourite photos in our entire collection is this one of its construction. workers on top of Government Life. It is the Ōtautahi version of the famous Lunch atop a Skyscraper (New York Construction Workers Lunching on a Crossbeam).

The Post Office tower is dwarfed in this view, taken from the top of the Government Life Insurance building in the Square.  [Mar. 1963] CCL PhotoCD 11, IMG0059
The Post Office tower is dwarfed in this view, taken from the top of the Government Life Insurance building in the Square. [Mar. 1963] CCL PhotoCD 11, IMG0059
That iconic clock has been a landmark of the central city – when it was turned off lots of us missed looking up to see the time (and the temperature).

Government Life Building showing clock 12:45 4 July 1963 CCCPlans Government-Life-11-2
Government Life Building showing clock 12:45 4 July 1963 CCCPlans Government-Life-11-2

In the 1965 photo above, you can see it is 1:52pm.

Christchurch Cathedral Junction and Woodwards Corner, Kete Christchurch
Christchurch Cathedral Junction and Woodwards Corner, 1965. Kete Christchurch

Post earthquakes, Mike Hewson’s artwork Government Life Suspension reflected the building back for us.

Government life art by Mike Hewson. Tuesday 22 January 2013. Flickr: CCL-2013-01-22-IMG_2308
Government life art by Mike Hewson. Tuesday 22 January 2013. Flickr: CCL-2013-01-22-IMG_2308
Government Life building. Wednesday 18 June 2014. Flickr: 2014-06-17-IMG_0287
Government Life building. Wednesday 18 June 2014. Flickr: 2014-06-17-IMG_0287

The Government Life building is currently being demolished.
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A busker with a banjo entertaining in Cathedral Square, Christchurch: Picturing Canterbury

busker
A busker with a banjo entertaining in Cathedral Square, Christchurch [1927] Christchurch City Libraries, File Reference CCL PhotoCD 3, IMG0060

A newspaper vendor in Cathedral Square, Christchurch: Picturing Canterbury

newspaper vendor
A newspaper vendor in Cathedral Square, Christchurch [1927] Christchurch City Libraries, File Reference CCL PhotoCD 6, IMG0039

A shoe-shine man reads a newspaper while waiting in Cathedral Square for customers: Picturing Canterbury

A shoe-shine man reads a newspaper while waiting in Cathedral Square for customers, Christchurch
A shoe-shine man reads a newspaper while waiting in Cathedral Square for customers, Christchurch Christchurch City Libraries, File Reference CCL PhotoCD 3, IMG0061