November 1, 2009 - January 10, 2010
Christchurch was a planned city. In its heart is Cathedral Square, the home of the Anglican Catehdral. What once was a harmonious 19th century architectural showpiece is now a hodge-podge of different styles. The centerpiece is a modern sculpture, in shiny aluminum of an enormous open work cup. It is called The Chalice and is the work of Neil Dawson. It celebrates the 150th anniversary of the founding of Christchurch and Canterbury The Cathedral, of course dominates one side of the square with the art deco memorial to the dead soldiers of WW1 and WWII, while opposite a 19th century former bank building is occupied by the tourist information office. The remaining sides of the square are filled with modern glass monstrosities.
Once, the important shopping, entertainment, and even university buildings were within an easy walk of the square. But today only one of the dozen movie theaters that were once there remains. Lots of shoppping has fled to modern shopping centers like the one in Riccarton, and downtown shopping streets look a little bit dejected. No doubt the recent earthquake will remedy that problem. Much of the downtown shopping area was badly damaged and so there will doubtless be lots of urban renewal funds invested here. The square itself is occupied mostly by tourists who come because they've heard that it is the center of the city.
Other important parts of town are: the old University campus, now the Arts Center; the park that borders both banks of the river Avon, the streets alonside of which form the hub of restaurant and night life; the modern City Hall, used for graduation ceremonies; and the very attractive new and modern art museum building.