Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

Here are some pictures of unfinished parts of the Christchurch city centre eleven years on from the earthquakes.

Although there has been some terrific progress in some parts of the city, it amazes me how many sites still haven’t been rebuilt. In some cases they looks as though the earthquake happened last week, rather than over a decade ago. I don’t think I’m the only one surprised at how long it is taking.

But they say Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I guess rebuilding a flattened Christchurch is somewhat akin to building Rome.

Let’s start with the city’s centrepiece, the Anglican Cathedral. Don’t be fooled by the printed cardboard frontage – there’s only really half a cathedral here.
The Arts Centre is the country’s largest ever restoration project. Some parts of it have reopened, others are still under repair.
A building on Cambridge Terrace is slowly being repaired
This building on the corner of Montreal and Worcester Streets has been boarded up for over a decade, and doesn’t look like changing anytime soon
A High Street building. The plans in the window show someone’s hopes and dreams, which obviously haven’t worked out.
This vacant building on Hereford Street transports you straight to Eastern Europe.
Curious as to why this lone staircase has survived when the building around them was demolished? Read all about it here (hint: it involves David Carradine).
The corner of Manchester and Hereford has been a carpark for a decade, but will soon be 63 new homes.
Peter Beaven’s masterpiece beautifully redone as the Muse Hotel, rising above a flooded hole of twisted steel and rubble

There are many more sites like this; this is just a handful of snaps from a half-hour walk around the city centre.

In some ways I find it a bit depressing seeing all the damage still so visible, but at the same time it makes me marvel even more at the complex organism that is a city, and the enormous volume of human effort that is required to build and sustain one.

Rome took a lot longer than 10 years to build, but it’s still here thousands of years later. If Christchurch is anything like that, these years of rebuilding will eventually pale into insignificance.

“Rome was not bylt on a daie (quoth he) and yet stood Tyll it was fynysht.”

John Heyword, 1538

One thought on “Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

  1. Its very common where I currently reside for the authorities to put up large printed boards covering empty shops and bounding vacant yet to be constructed sites. These can be either artistic or photos/montages of the coming developments.

    It adds a lot to the visual streetscape rather than peering at something desolate.


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