Comment 79445

By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2012 at 07:36:46 in reply to Comment 79430

To my mind, there are two key differences between the Gore Promenade and the James North Crawl.

One is that the Crawl ran for years as an almost entirely non-commercial event, an experiential happening. Its founders conceived of it as part of a broader word-of-mouth marketing campaign to brand the neighbourhood as not being about buying stuff; the $100 cans of paint and $8,000 loveseats only showed up latterly. Even now, it's entirely possible to spend an hour or two wandering around without buying anything. The Promenade, on the other hand, is more easily monetized; its transactions are often cash-based. There's nothing wrong with that distinction. It is the city's central business district, after all. But it does have a way of limiting engagement.

The James North Crawl starts after working hours and runs into the wee hours, bringing foot traffic into the neighbourhood as the sun is going down. For a strip that had been plagued with drugs and violent crime, this was a notable achievement, a way of proving that there's nothing to fear (admittedly, being in a crowd of familiar-looking middle class people of homogeneous complexion helps). That unspoken message, repeated monthly over several years, begins to sink in. The Promenade, meanwhile, has no such ambitions. Its operating hours (roughly lunch to close-of-business) showcase the Gore much as it would normally be seen. It's perhaps helpful to create a space that is more visibly different than the streetlife on the North side of King, which is a bit touch-and-go. All the same, it's not challenging the idea that downtown isn't safe after dark. It's confirming it.

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