Re-making Sparks: Ottawa's downtown pedestrian mall through the decades
City soliciting ideas to revitalize Sparks Street Mall
Residents can have their say about the planned revitalization of Sparks Street at a town hall being held this morning.
The city wants ideas to improve how the mall functions, its programming, amenities, transportation access and more.
The town hall is being held in council chambers at City Hall from 9 a.m. to noon on Jan. 13.
Heading into the meeting, CBC spent some time in our archives, digging into the mall's storied past. Here's some of the more interesting video we found.
What do you think about the mall? What should change? Leave your comments below this story.
In the late 1950s, plans were being developed for the Sparks Street pedestrian mall, including a sculpture garden, lots of seating, flower beds, big trees and more.
Plans for a long canopy along both sides of the mall, equipped with infrared heating, were eventually scrapped.
People were still allowed to walk through the mall during construction, but it didn't officially open until 1960.
In February 1991, CBC dug into the archives and produced this The Way We Were segment about the grand reopening of Sparks Street Mall in 1967, when it was made a permanent feature of the city.
Interestingly, the mall was the envy of municipal planners from Baltimore, Md., who came to Ottawa to check it out.
This one is pretty funny. In June 1993, CBC's The Way We Were produced this segment about hordes of hippies hanging out on Sparks Street in 1967.
At the time there were fears that a "hippie invasion" would descend on the capital in 1968. Officials even spoke of mysterious posters, apparently seen in the U.S., promoting some kind of hippie love-in in Ottawa for the summer of 1968.
The invasion never transpired.
Problems mount in the '80s
This April 1980 story by CBC reporter Doug James reveals some problems facing the mall including high winds, a lack of sunlight and a scarcity of green space.
Then it cuts to CBC video taken in May 1985, showing hundreds of people on the street. The place looked pretty bustling back then, despite the complaints.
Street vendors kicked out in 2000
In 2000, Sparks Street's management board decided force street vendors off the mall after allowing them for about seven years. The board felt the mall had become too cluttered, and merchants in stores along Sparks Street has were complaining the street vendors were cutting into their business and ignoring contracts.
Sound familiar? That's because in 2014, pretty much the same story played out again.
Decline of Sparks Street
In March 2000, CBC reporter Arthur Lewis took a long look into the decline of the Sparks Street Mall.
Among the issues he touched on were the rise of suburban shopping centres in the 1950s, the expropriation of the north side of Sparks Street by the federal government in the 1970s, the National Capital Commission's stewardship of its Sparks Street holdings, and a lack of dialogue between the NCC, the federal government and the city.
Some familiar faces appear in this video, including Mayor Jim Watson and the former city councillor for the area, Diane Holmes.