Christchurch; Two Years Later.

Discussion in 'OFF-Topic / Misc.' started by nuuumannn, Nov 26, 2013.

  1. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Last week I spent some time in Christchurch in the South Island of New Zealand, which, as some of you might know suffered three major earthquakes two years ago, in which lives were lost and much of the city centre was destroyed. Although I had been down since the earthquakes, this was my first visit to the city centre. I was intrigued to see what was left and what had changed, since my wife and I used to live in Christchurch and we didn't have a car at that stage, so we walked everywhere. Getting to know a city on foot gives you a very different appreciation of it, so I walked some familiar routes through the city that we used to take.

    Although saddened to see the city in the state it was, the signs of its rebirth are everywhere; the constant noise of buildings being demolished by heavy machinery, vacant lots litter the city where entire street blocks were wiped out, but most interestingly, the population has taken to decorating the features of the environment they live in with art, which livens the dreariness up a little and is spirit raising after viewing the destruction wrought by the quakes, still plainly visible around the place.

    One thing that has sprung from the debris is a new appreciation for the city centre; Christchurch was always a bit of a tourist town and prided itself on its many churches and, of course its crown jewel, the Christchurch Anglican Cathedral, but the destruction of many of the city's Gothic style edifices has meant much of this heritage is now gone, but this doesn't dispell interest in them, however. The devastation has borne a new type of curiosity among visitors to the city: Earthquake Tourism. There are open top bus tours of the most devastated sites and a new visitor centre has opened up about the quakes, where you can experience what it feels like, apparently - a bit silly really, you can experience it for real in the form of mini quakes and aftershocks that happen quite frequently; the last major one happened the night before I arrived in the city and had colleagues of mine fearing another big one!

    Anyway, Here are some images taken last week. It's very sobering stuff.

    Firstly, the two grand cathedrals of Christchurch were badly damaged. This is the catholic cathedral which was overshadowed by the anglican one in the centre of town, but was every bit as impressive a structure.

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    The anglican cathedral in the centre of town. This was what the tourists came to see and still do; it's appeal is still alive, but owing to a more macarbe instinct. This first image was taken in 2004 days after I arrived in New Zealand and illustrates the grandeur of the building.

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    The cathedral today.

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    This is a street that is blocked off to the public where the devastation is still apparent. This was a row of fashion boutiques.

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    This building adjoins that former block and used to house a multilevel department store within a classic frontage, which the city streets were lined with.

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    A theatre damaged by arsonists as well as nature.

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    More coming.
     
  2. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Two years later, wow!
     
  3. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    #3 nuuumannn, Nov 26, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2013
    Attempts are being made to save the surviving facades, but these are mostly futile, as many of them crumble with each new quake. Note the shipping containers used to prop the buildings up; these are now a permanent fixture in the city's landscape.

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    This stretch of emptiness used to be one of my favourite streets of the city; along this multistorey row were several second-hand book stores and antique shops, from where I regularly stocked up my aviation library.

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    This used to be a big carpark complex and bus station; it was the hub of public transport in town; the Bus Exchange sign can still be seen.

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    This was the site of the Holiday Inn. After the quakes, Christchurch found that all of its centre city hotels were either destroyed completely or damaged beyond repair. Note the art work on the fencing.

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    Directly opposite was the 28 storey Hotel Grand Chancellor, which had its top storey literally shaken off. It's demolition took place over several months with each floor being dismantled indivdually to prevent further damage to surrounding structures. I once stayed in this hotel whilst working for Air New Zealand for over a month. Now there is just a huge vacant lot where it stood.

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    This used to be the KFC!

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    This is the Forsyth Barr building and next to it stood Christchurche's biggest office tower, the Price Waterhouse Cooper building. Both were badly damaged and only the Forsyth Barr building remains to be demolished. The tower at left was luxury accommodation.

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    This is Christchurch's main drag; Colombo Street. All along here were tourist oriented shops. The ruin of the cathedral can be seen at the end of the street. Note the crasing on the road and the ever present traffic cones. These are everywhere in the city now. Every intersection and junction has traffic cones on it and it has been even suggested that the new icon of the city should not be a church, but a giant traffic cone.

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    This is the corner of Colombo Street. This building was the National Bank; this was where I opened my bank account when I first arrived here.

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    This was a row of shops and eateries with an underground car park. The water is from the proximity of the Avon River, which runs just beind this block.

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    Twisted concrete reinforcing makes interesting art installations on the building sites.

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    This vacant block being used as a car park used to be a trendy restaurant and bar complex and had only just been finish a couple of years before the earthquakes. My doctor's surgery sat next door. This is a familiar sight around the city; former building blocks turned into carparks. The thing that makes me wonder is, where does everyone go now there's no buildings left to go to?

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    More coming.
     
  4. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    #4 nuuumannn, Nov 26, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2013
    This is the sign of a fabulous little restaurant that was very hard to get bookings for; my wife and I did eat there once and it was well worth the wait. It used to be a band rotunda.

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    This is it now.

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    A poignant sign outside of one of the many churches destroyed. The irony behind the destruction of these is that Christchurch Casino, that den of sin received only superficial damage and was open for business not long after the quakes!

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    St Luke's. We lived in an apartment that backed onto this block; the apartments are still there, but the church was destroyed.

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    The church site now. The labyrinth was constructed from stone from the building. Oddly enough, the bell tower survived, as did most wooden structures, being better suited to surviving earthquakes than concrete or brick.

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    I never noticed this little memorial outside the church when I lived here. The street on which the church, and our apartment block, is known for the ladies with no visible means of support and in the time we lived on Manchester Street, a prostitute was murdered in the church yard. The whole street was cordoned off like an episode of CSI, with white overall clad detectives crawling over the place.

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    This used to be the head quarters of an electricity company where I used to work when I first arrived.

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    This is one of many real estate signs around the city with aerial views of a vacant lot that help in giving some perspective to surroundings. Although there appears to be many buildings in this view, many of them are scheduled for demolition. This lot was occupied by the PGC building, in which a number of people lost their lives. There is no memorial or mention of this fact on the block.

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    This rather fetching art installation sits where the Crowne Plaza Hotel once stood; you could walk through the hotel foyer, past its restaurants into Victoria Park beyond.

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    The Avon River meanders through the city like it has for years.

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    This is the Christchurch Town Hall. There's a debate as to whether it should be saved or destroyed, so nothing's been done with it yet. Note the steps that have been uplifted and nature is beginning to claim back.

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    This used to be the Copthorne Hotel on Colombo Street.

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    Another art installation.

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    More to come.
     
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  5. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    #5 nuuumannn, Nov 26, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2013
    Victoria Street was once lined with luxury accommodation; this one was seen earlier.

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    This used to be the old council chambers and was built in the 1800s. It was designed to resemble the British Houses of Parliament at Westminster on a smaller scale. The wooden structure survived, but the concrete hall was demolished. A protective cover has been built around it to save it from further damage.

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    Another intersection, more road work.

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    The Arts Centre used to occupy the grand old buildings of Canterbury University. Ernest Rutherford was a scholar here. In recent years it was filled with shops that sold things that no one really needed or wanted, but felt they had to have.

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    This is New Regent Street; New Zealand's first shopping mall. This picture was taken in 2004. Maybe the teddy bears knew something we didn't?

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    New Regent Street has been brought back to its former glory, thankfully, but without the brown glass fronted Price Waterhouse Cooper building in the background.

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    A monument to a hero of the city.

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    Remarkably, The Bridge of Remembrance survived intact.

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    This is the main pedestrian mall in the city centre; Cashel Mall. All along here was modern glass fronted shops, but in order to revitalise the city, the shops have been returned in the form of a village made of shipping containers. It's very neat.

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    This is a panorama looking in the opposite direction across the road. The Hotel Grand Chancellor, the Holiday Inn and the Westpac Bank used to dominate this scene. Almost all of these buildings will be pulled down.

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    Finally. Christchurch was always a city of remembrance, there being monuments to individuals dotted around the city centre like any historic place. Now, the words of this give us pause to remember for a different reason.

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    Thanks for looking.
     
  6. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    Good Lord...speechless...had no idea it was that bad...
     
  7. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Likewise!
    You mentioned it the posts Grant, but with all the shops, hotels and other businesses destroyed or seriously damaged, where do people go?! And if there's no businesses, then there should be a lot of empty, extra car parks !
    Thanks for posting these pics - it's brought it home to me how bad things really were, and it doesn't seem like nearly three years either.
     
  8. Marcel

    Marcel Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the pictures. Hard to imagine what it's like.
     
  9. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    Wow......thanks for sharing this....
     
  10. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Remarkable shots! Amazing to see the devastation that still remains despite it being 2 years down the line.
     
  11. Shinpachi

    Shinpachi Well-Known Member

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    My deep condolence for the victims...
     
  12. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the comments, guys. Christchurch is, despite its appearance still a busy place, although, as you can see by the photos, there's hardly anyone around in the city centre. Here are a couple of pics I took at Christchurch Airport, where the United States Antarctic Survey is based. At this time of year there's always a C-17 or C-130 equipped with skis at the airport for Antarctic missions.

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  13. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Thank for sharing the photos, nuuumannn.
     
  14. Vic Balshaw

    Vic Balshaw Well-Known Member

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    Never would have thought it was 2 years ago you guys suffered that devastation. It is quite remarkable how the recovery process has progressed and that container shopping complex that sprang up so quickly after the earthquake is a credit to the resilience of the people.

    My thanks to you for sharing it with us.
     
  15. YakFlyer

    YakFlyer Member

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    Yup I live here, saw, felt, wobbled, got the t-shirt, and carried on. Pretty horrible if you were in the East though. It is just no-mans land over there.... :S
     
  16. Alex .

    Alex . Active Member

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    The media moved quickly on from the effects of the earthquake, I hadn't realised it was to this level of damage...
     
  17. Aaron Brooks Wolters

    Aaron Brooks Wolters Well-Known Member

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    I missed this thread Grant. I remember hearing about the earthquakes but like others, I had no idea of the devastation. Thank you for sharing the photos and giving commentary sir.
     
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