Horizon at Sandy Point

Monday, April 21, 2014

What's the plan for Port of Spain?

Back in the seventies - over 40 years ago - there was a plan for Port of Spain. The heart of Trinidad's capital city would feature many pedestrian streets; walkways under shady trees. The model was there already, in the cool heart of the city, Woodford Square. Wide walking avenues would radiate out from this centre. Perhaps the old tramcars would be re-introduced - from the port to the Savannah for inner city riders.
Trees in Woodford Square soften the outlines of city buildings

Perhaps we had a better vision of ourselves in those long gone days. We walked. We planted trees. (Have any new trees been planted that haven't been cut down? Like those in the Piarco carpark.) We dreamed of a better world. We were simpler then.

One would argue we had a slower lifestyle, maybe even a slower heart beat. Now, we all have cars. And when we all go out in our cars, even the roads to the beaches are gridlocked on a weekend or a holiday. Port of Spain becomes a ghost town. It's dying, they tell us, abandoned except for the daily hours of work, 9 to 5 Monday to Friday.

Even the newest buildings among the old are tolerable when seen from Woodford Square.
The heart of Conquerabia: red fenced Woodford Square, with Trinity Cathedral on the south side, the Red House on the west, City Hall on the north, and Frederick Street on the east.

Who is going to dream the next plan for Port of Spain? Create a weekend culture. Revitalize the waterfront, so you might be able to walk from the Woodbrook to the Tobago ferry. Call her name again, proud Conquerabia, instead of just a port of Spain.

Some things worth redeeming are still here. Can we salvage the best of our past, before we lose the soul of our city?

The old Public Library being refurbished as a museum: north side of Woodford Square

The fountain in Woodford Square, made in Scotland and given to the city by Gregor Turnbull in 1866  

The Red House is under repairs for almost two years. The Parliament has been relocated to a tower on the waterfront. What's the best use of this building?

The old Fire Station, corner Abercromby and Hart Sts

The National Library

Hart Street

Police Headquarters on St Vincent Street, the building that was among the targets of the 1990 coup.

St Vincent House on St Vincent Street
Ground level offices on St Vincent Street: gracious and inviting

Re-purposed building on Edward Street. Downtown city streets are filled with daytime car traffic.

Trinidad House once housed the Treasury, on Edward Street.

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