Hamilton central 1980 vs 1990: Parking & Pedestrians

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[Words in square brackets are references to sources; e.g. yearbook and page]

The 1980s looked to be a good decade; a lot was happening in Hamilton Central:

1981 – completion of the Government Life building [1981 p7],

1985 – new Railway Shopping Centre (Centreplace) opened [1986 p5],

1986 – completion and occupation of the State Insurance Building [1986 p3]. Closure of Alexandra Street at Garden Place for Civic car-park construction [1986 p5 & p8],

1987 – Civic Car-park completed (246 public car-parks) [1987 p11 (1990 p22)] and new Farmers complex (627 public car-parks) [1988 p8 & 1990 p3 (1990 p22)],

1988Chase Development planned [1988 p5], 10-floor Council building  and 7-floor Bryant Trust building completed [1988 p8, 1990 p22].

The above image of Hamilton Central is dated 08/02/1991 and is from the Local Government Geospatial Alliance (LGGA) website, which has a large collection of aerial historical photos available.

The 1989 annual pedestrian survey (Library ref 711.74099334 ANN) page 5 reads like a CBD utopia: ”Whilst the pedestrian counts are down for Victoria Street, it is still the prime “corridor” in Hamilton as regards pedestrians … A second corridor has now emerged … Centre Place and Farmers have emerged as the nodes at each end. It is also noted this corridor coincides with the C.B.D.’s three parking buildings”

At the beginning of the 1980s, over 10,200 car parks were reported to exist in Hamilton Central. In the 1990s the ‘Parking in the Central Business District’ study counted 12,899 car parks, a 25% increase. So if increased parking supply really did attract more pedestrians, one would expect to find some evidence.

However, the 1991 annual pedestrian survey, Introduction, page 1, states:

“Results since 1981 – Some of the changes over this period are: general pattern of increasing pedestrian movement until 1985 but since then a decline in numbers” Note: It was from 1985 that the three car-parking buildings were opened.

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Hamilton Central 1968 vs early 1980s: Parking & Pedestrians

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The 1968 Transportation Study counted 7,394 car parks in Hamilton Central. In 1982, the ‘Parking in the Central Business Area report’ counted 10,204 car parks, a 38% increase. So if increased parking supply really did attract more pedestrians, one would expect to find some evidence.

There were a number of noteworthy events in the 1970s, including the 1973 international oil crisis, Locally, Chartwell Square was built in 1974, the Government Life building was added to the city skyline, and there was no pedestrian counts till the end of the decade, when Council restarted them.

The following quote is from the Annual Pedestrian Survey Hamilton, Central Business District – 1981, conducted by the Corporate Planning Department. “This Survey was done in response to a discontinuation – after 1970 – of pedestrian surveys conducted by the NZ Institute of Valuers. Prior to this study a pilot study was conducted with a limited number of counts along Victoria Street to test the methodology of the survey. The 1981 survey was done after the completion of the Government Life building” (p8). The image below shows the 1968 study results for Victoria Street, to which I have added the 1980s & 2010 counts and below that, I done the same to 1981 fig 3.

It is very easy to say that Chartwell Square had an effect on the attractiveness of Hamilton Central. The comments in the pedestrian survey say nothing about Chartwell Square, or effect on Hamilton Central, but the report writer does say that because the “survey techniques adopted by the [1968 survey] are not consistent with those adopted by this Department, care must be taken in comparing data and drawing subsequent conclusions relating to changes or trends in pedestrian traffic”.

Through the 1970s, the Hamilton Central parking supply increased by 38%, the population of Hamilton increased by over 20%, and in 1974 the Chartwell Square shopping mall opened. As a comparison, in the Dutch City of Groningen, the Paddepoel shopping centre opened in 1969; in 1976 the Dukenburg shopping centre opened near Nijmegen; and in 1978 the Kronenburg shopping centre opened near Arnhem. The 1970s was a popular decade for the creation of suburban shopping malls.

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