Jane Walking

East Village is made for walking. Jane Jacobs, one of the world’s preeminent thinkers on urban life, would love it here.

Jane’s Walks are held around the world to explore cities in honour of urbanist Jane Jacobs, the esteemed urban activist and author of The Death and Life of American Cities. When a dozen or so stalwart walkers braved a fresh blanket of heavy snow to join the East Village Jane's Walk on May 4, they discovered a downtown community steeped in history and excited for the future. They learned first hand just why East Village is exactly the type of liveable neighbourhood that Jane Jacobs envisioned all city dwellers enjoying some day. 

Before setting out on their hike, urban explorers gathered around the East Village scale model inside the Experience Centre for a bird's eye view of the mixed-use neighbourhood. Ambassador Terry fielded questions and pointed out planned and existing pathways and walking routes that will define East Village. The Riff will cut a diagonal slice from 4th St. and 8th Ave. SE to RiverWalk™. The graceful new St. Patrick's Bridge will connect villagers to a revitalized island playground and beyond. Jane Jacobs would love it here.

The group of explorers did not leave empty-handed. A draw for two Fort Calgary passes, two National Music Centre tour passes and a copy of Jane's Walk Annual, 2013 put an extra spring into the steps of the lucky winners.

Clayton Buck, a local historian and long-time East Village resident, regaled the walking group with tales of the colourful history of the old Simmons mattress factory, while Wendy Lees, an artist and the founder of create! in the East Village, pointed out equally colourful public art gracing RiverWalk and Riverfront Lane. At the corner of 5th St. and 8th Ave. SE, Jane’s Walkers heard the story of the Golden Age Club, the many seniors' residences in the area and the East Village community garden, which – if you ignored the blanket of new snow – looked almost ready for spring planting.

The snow, the damp and the warm light pouring out of the windows of Hear's My Soul coffee shop in the Orange Lofts ultimately proved to be a perfect storm, resulting in a somewhat abbreviated East Village Jane's Walk. The promise of a steaming cup of coffee convinced the group to continue their exploration of East Village around a café table. We like to think Jane would have understood.