Mid-Block Walkway Madness!

The Beginning of the longest mid-block walkway
If you spend a lot of time walking around downtown Victoria, you likely know some little shortcuts down alleys or through a building. Downtown is absolutely full of these mid-block walkways. In some cases these are cut-throughs that have been there for decades and in other places they are new additions that have been created as part of a concession on the part of a developer. Sometimes they are wonderful little shortcuts and other times their existence is pretty much useless. Exploring these walkways as a pedestrian is a great way to see the city. This will be the first of many posts on the walkways of Victoria.

Hudson Walk Carriageway almost complete
Perhaps the longest mid-block walkway stretches currently from the corner of Blanshard and Chatham to the corner of Blanshard and Courtney. In the near future it won't start and end on Blanshard but we will all have to wait for the completion of the carriageway at the Hudson Walk project.

For now if you want to experience the entire length of the walk, you will go to the northeast corner of the Jack Davis building. There is small cement garden box and the fencing for the Hudson Walk project. Start down this very tight path. There is actually a cool view that you can see as you go down the stairs. Once you have wound past the construction project you will be on Herald Street.

Once you are on Herald turn right and walk down to the new crosswalks in place, in the future you will be walking straight through the project to this point but it is not quite ready. As you walk along the carriage way you will have the relatively new Victoria Public Market to your right and the empty hole for another Hudson building to your left. When you get to the next street (Fisgard Street) cross and turn left until you get to the greenish First Island Financial Building. You can walk on either side of this building. behind it you will find a secret plaza with seating. 

This plaza is actually one of my favourite little places in the city, You have buildings going up all around you. There was a plan to attach this plaza to the dormant Gateway Green project, which really would have made it an amazingly urban little rest place.
Plaza behind First Island Financial

To continue on to Cormorant Street, you need to walk up the stairs at the east end of the plaza. The path ends at some stairs that will take you down to street level.You have to jaywalk across Cormorant. You used to be able to cut across the parking lot but with the new 1515 Douglas project you need to go through the sunken plaza of the Rotherham Building. This plaza has a lot of potential as another quiet place in the city.  A large piece of art or some interesting seating would go a long way. Hopefully, once the office building next door is complete, this area will cohesively connect this great space.
Rotherham Plaza in the foreground next to the 1515 Douglas project.
The path continues between the two apartment buildings in the background.

To get to the next walkway you have to turn right once out of the plaza and walk down to the crosswalk. Cross Pandora and turn left. In between the two apartment buildings there is a small pedestrian path that ends at a parkade. When you walk through the parkade, you will walk on a diagonal to the left till you get to a small set of stairs and an exit that takes you to Johnson Street.

Across the street from the parkade is the entrance to what has been known as both Odeon Alley and Millie's Alley though with the expansion of the space into a square following the completion of the Era condo building, the term Alley doesn't quite work anymore. The new square is a great pace to pause and relax in the new seating or next to the new fountain near Yates Street.
Millie/Odeon Alley/Square?
Walkway to Fort (Note the jaywalker)
The next portion goes through the St. Andrews Square Mall. This is where you find Hernandez and a few other eateries. The mall exits out onto View Street. If you  want to obey the law, turn right and go down to the crosswalk. That said, this portion of View Street is fairly quiet and jaywalking is commonplace here. Across the street from the mall is the View Street Parkade. \You will know you are going to right way when you see the cool neon sign that says, "Walkway to Fort". Go in the entrance below the sign and through the doors into the first floor of the parkade. You will see a crosswalk that goes all the way across the floor to another set of doors. These doors take you into the main floor of a small office building on Fort Street. 

It really does spin.
Once out on Fort Street the crosswalk is just to your right. If you want to stop for a snack, Crust Bakery is near here and one of the best bakeries in the city. When your ready, head across Fort Street and enter a small open space between the florist and the space that used to be Staples. This path zigzags to the left and then heads along to Broughton Street. 

When you cross Broughton, you are entering the final leg of this pathway and it goes through library square. Walk through to the large atrium with the spinning art piece that never spins (I have seen it turn once in twenty years). Then turn to your left and head towards Blanshard Street. There is a large square that seems to have little purpose here and it is also the end of this walk. 

What are some of your favourite or not so favourite mid-block walkways?


The end

Comments

  1. I have mixed feelings about these things in general but I really like the way the lane behind the Hudson is shaping up.

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  2. I am looking forward to the big hole being filled in and the place having some more commercial space. I am hopeful that it feels cozy and tight like how that first chinese noodle place is right in your face.

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  3. I love the midblock walkways of Victoria. To me this is one of the planning features that makes Victoria special. The fine grained urban landscape, full of little secrets and the thrill of discovery. :)

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    Replies
    1. I agree, however, like all planning features they need to be well thought out and placed with people in mind.

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