404 on King Street–a photo survey in DTK

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I think it started with the news that one of my fave DTK watering holes, Imbibe, was shuttering over some misalignment with THEMUSEUM. Then I heard from Ian Pilon that IoT Waterloo gigs would have to shift due to Ren @41 closing. I watched the trucks emptying out the remains of Carbon Computing and most recently saw the sign pulled down from Artisan Zone and the store vacant. The ION light rail construction is primarily fouling up Charles Street and *not* the main drag, so what pray tell, dear reader, is going on with King Street?

404 is an error code indicating a missing resource in the hyper text transfer protocol. Keen to avoid confirmation bias and reality distortion by woeful scuttlebutt, I set out last Thursday morning with Brohemus to simply photograph every storefront on King Street between Victoria and Cedar around 10am. I wanted to really look for myself in a methodical way at the state of the street. What’s open for business? What’s vacant? 404. This is not Photography, but rather a quick and quasi-objective visual record of the streetscape. You can start scrolling King Street below.

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SCROLL RIGHT for a wrap-around tour of this section of King Street.

I thought I might later count doors and bucket them into [occupied | vacant | undetermined]. Seems like a good way to start an argument over my classification and counting abilities. I’ve got about 183 photos, some show multiple doors of a single business, some show parking lots, some show multiple businesses. Arriving at numbers of open versus closed businesses on King Street would distract us from more important conversation. Getting less data-oriented, I’ll ask you “What’s the feel of the street?” It’s only 1340m of a street. That’s human-scale. Walkable. The City is working hard on DTK as is the Downtown Kitchener BIA and its members. What role do you and I play? Click through for a few observations…

• The car is king on King Street. Despite the cycle-friendly sharrows and bicycle left-turn boxes, most of the space is consumed by parked cars on both sides and two lanes of dense traffic in the middle.
• There are a lot of trash cans, bollards, and parking signs.
• There are extended stretches of the street that are just wall. The north side between Benton and Scott is the textbook example, but the south side from the old Ren@41 to Ontario Street is a wall of glass, too. An informed urban planner could probably tell me a rough distance between doors before a neighbourhood starts to feel disjointed.
• The storefronts were absent a human presence on the street. I don’t know how exactly to describe this, but you know when you walk through Kensington Market in T.O. how it all feels like the products and the people are accessible? King Street has less of that. And I’m sure there are many reasons for it.
You will find cool shops and eats in DTK if you slow down and really look. I did.
• The bike “racks” are delightful. They still make me smile.
• I’m a big fan of the side streets and alleys. Shout out for Ontario, Queen, Eby Streets and the Duke Food Block.
• City Hall and Carl Zehr Square are enviable centre pieces for the core.

My approach to supporting DTK is pretty simple:
• get out on the street
• spend what cash I can locally
• tell you about it

On King Street, this is Kitchener.

DW

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1 Response to 404 on King Street–a photo survey in DTK

  1. dw says:

    Hey, I talked with Craig Norris about this project on 89.1FM CBC-KW. Here’s the audio: http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/Local+Shows/Ontario/The+Morning+Edition+-+K-W/ID/2667102795/

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