To start the week off I have decided to do a bit of a combo post. I want to present a ‘Before and After” as a means to continue the discussion about the importance (or lack thereof) when it comes to place names. So, to start… the Grenfell Apartments:
The Grenfell apartments, now Grenfell Tower are located on Hamilton Street between 12th Avenue and Victoria Aveune downtown. To be totally honest, I don’t know a lot about the Grenfell apartments – I haven’t had a chance to dig into the archives or spend a weekend at the Prairie History room (RPL) seeing what there is to learn about them… so, if anyone does have info on them, please share. What I do know is that the Grenfell apartments were replaced with Grenfell Tower – again, I don’t know the dates for this so feel free to indulge. I do however think it is interesting that the building that was built on the site kept the name Grenfell.
You may remember this post where I talked about place names, specifically with respect to the development that will replace The Plains Hotel. At the time I questioned whether or not it was useful to retain a place name even if the bricks and mortar were lost and after writing that post, I still wasn’t sure. For me, The Plains will always be The Plains and I still hold the belief that “Capital Pointe” sounds a little hollow and that there was something to be gained by maintaining a small memory of “The Plains”, though it is not my choice to make. After writing this post I spent a lot of time thinking about this issue and wanted to see what there was for a comparison, so I looked for developments where the name was retained (it is like the space for time substitution theory used in ecology, but here it is a time for space substitution). There are a few examples in the downtown – one of which is Grenfell Tower.
I have come to the conclusion that building names form a sort of lineage. By naming a new development similar to what was there before, you ensure that there is some record of what has been. While I never saw the Grenfell Apartments (which, design-wise actually look kind of cool), seeing Grenfell Tower and knowing why it is called that (and that it isn’t just a name plunked onto a building for a slick image) is a constant reminder of where we’ve been (even if it is a small gesture).
It seems as though we are often in a rush to move on, to start over, to begin fresh, that we sometimes overlook where we have been and what we are building upon. While I don’t believe that name-retention is as significant as building-retention, it is more than nothing and helps to remind people of the progress and change that has been made.