Victoria Street – raise and trends

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The following is a quote from the1990 annual pedestrian survey in Hamilton (page 7) – ‘The central business area is the busiest shopping area in Hamilton – it has the widest range of shops, ample parking, and some good pedestrian areas such as Garden Place and Centreplace. Over 35% of Hamilton’s employment is in the central city and Saturday shopping also brings many people into the city … Over the years there has been a ‘northwards creep’ of the business area, from the original Ferry-bank site of 1864, to the Victoria/Hood Street area of the 1880’s and then northwards along Victoria Street. The removal of Garden Place Hill in 1938/39 and the new Central Post Office of 1940 then firmly established Garden Place as the centre of the City … Since then there has been much commercial growth in the areas between Victoria Street and Anglesea Street, often causing the displacement of industrial uses which then moved to the Frankton and Te Rapa industrial areas. The lowering of the railway line in 1964 opened up the former Hamilton Railway Station area for commercial development … Comparisons of pedestrian counts in 1965 and 1970 (both Institute of Valuers) and 1977 showed increased pedestrianisation in the Bryce Street to Collingwood Street area of the central city but with counts outside this area remaining fairly constant’. Note: the last paragraph comment is about total city centre area pedestrian counts.

Image from Hamilton Central Area, A Planning Design Study June 1973, by James A. Anderson page 28 9

From the early 1980s, the highest pedestrian counts on Victoria Street were just south of Ward Street. The number of pedestrians counted in a half-hour period averaged 735 in the 1980s, 503 in the 1990s and 230 in the first decade of this century.

Photo from early 1980s Transportation study review

The graph below provides trends dating back to the late 1940s. Pedestrian numbers come from HCC and Property Institute annual counts (Victoria St only). Parking is total in the Hamilton central area. Bus numbers are city-wide ‘trips per person per year’ from reports available at Hamilton City Library, and car counts are Victoria Street only locations.

What I did not find was a peak pedestrian count, only a decline with a levelling off for the first decade of this century. If car parking increases pedestrian activity, the trend lines do not show this. Numbers of cars and bus trips per head trend lines have data gaps that are too large in the 1980s and 1990s to be able to say that fewer cars and more people in buses equals more pedestrians.

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Hamilton central 1990 vs 2000: Parking & Pedestrians

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Photos in this post are from the Old Hamilton Facebook page, [Words in square brackets are references to sources; e.g. year of pedestrian survey report and page number]

The 1990 annual pedestrian survey (Library ref 711.74099334 ANN) page 4

“The parking areas in the city play a large part in determining pedestrian movements and shopping. Both the Centre-place and Farmers shopping areas have a parking building close at hand, each with over 600 spaces. The effect of the underground car-park has been to reinforce shopping in the Garden Place area.”

“In summary through it seems that pedestrianisation in much of the central city has been gradually declining.” [1990 p5]

In 1990 “the Riverbank mall had the highest eastside count for all of Victoria Street” [1991 p4]

(‘Riverbank Mall which was originally established in 1979’) “Observations showed … count at the Riverbank mall was in effect “double counting” – many people move to and from the Mall area (including Trust-bank Waikato) without travelling further south along Victoria Street” [1990 p12]

In 1992 “the library was still in place and functioning at the date of this survey, however plans would indicate that at some stage during the year the Library is likely to shift to Garden Place” [1992 p4] and a “count outside the Fox & Hounds Tavern was taken before the buses shifted”[1992 p10]

Development between 1992 and 1993. [1993 p10]

  1. Redevelopment of Victoria Street with aesthetic enhancement and throttling of vehicle traffic.
  2. Completion of The Warehouse new premises.
  3. Relocation of the Public Library to Garden Place and demolition of the old library
  4. The establishment of the new Bus Depot at the north-western corner of Ward Street
  5. The new car-park at Alma Street including the development of the walk-through to Victoria Street over the old Regent Cinema site
  6. Further retail development in Barton Street

“The pedestrian traffic at the Fox & Hounds has improved significantly, a factor which was anticipated in the previous survey reflecting the establishment of the Theatre complex, Tavern and Bus Depot.” [1993 p11]

The Garden Place environment has been enhanced since 1993 [1994 p10] and on 16/7/94 K Mart was opened [1994 p10]. The Downtown Plaza Development was completed between 1994 and 1995 [1995 p12].

The Bank of New Zealand in Victoria Street was demolished in 1996 [Ann McEwan]

In 1998 the BNZ development on Victoria Street was completed [1998 p12] and in 1999 The Tainui Novotel Hotel was also completed and became operational [1999 p12]

‘Many reasons for Hamilton’s hollow core’ by Colin Jenkins – From 1994 annual pedestrian survey (Library ref 711.74099334 ANN)

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