It’s funny, Toronto has the hustle and bussle, but it’s downtown Hamilton that I like more. Probably, as my friend Kathy pointed out on Flickr, it’s because despite it’s size, Hamilton’s downtown feels more like a small town than Toronto does. Sure there’s a handful of skyscrapers, Stelco Tower for example, but there’s not a canyon like you find along Bay Street in TO. Hamilton still maintains many of it’s historic buildings (well most of them…if you see a random parking lot, good chance that used to be a historic building). Despite the many years of decline the downtown is starting to come back it still has a way to go, but with more time, and continued support from the local government and businesses Hamilton will once again be the city it once was.
Hamilton’s Lister Block has always held a rather special place in the hearts of local explorers and those who have walked her halls. Built in 1924 to replace the old Lister Chambers building which burned the same year. Joseph Lister, the owner, and name sake, ordered a new building be constructed and that it be made fireproof. Taking advantage of being on a very busy corner of Hamilton’s downtown, the new Lister Block featured an L shaped arcade on the first floor, allowing for maximum space to be used, even the store fronts on the second floor featured wide open windows to the streets to show off their wares. But in 1994 eviction notices were served and the Lister Block was closed. And rather than be a symbol of Hamilton’s growth…it became the poster child of the cities decline through the later years of the 20th century. She sat abandoned, decaying…home to vagrients, and a draw to the curious.
I first stepped foot inside her halls in 2006…and loved it. But as the years progressed the signs that she would be torn down became more clear, the land was precious, a section of hte structure collapsed in 2008 finally prompting the city to take action. Lister Block would either be doomed to become yet another parking lot, or be restored. Thankfully the later happened. Through 2009 to 2011 the block was restored to it’s former glory. And by 2012 it was open again with local government offices and services now occupying the building.
Between the Darkness and the Light – Lister Block 2006 to 2012