The Scotiabank Saddledome and Calgary skyline at night
Road development Edit
Calgary is divided into four quadrants: Northeast (NE), Northwest (NW), Southeast (SE) and Southwest (SW). The dividing line between east and west is Centre Street in the north, and roughly Macleod Trail in the south. The dividing line between north and south is generally the Bow River in the west, and Centre Avenue and Memorial Drive (from 36 Street) in the east. Addresses proceed outwards from the center of the city; for example, 219 16th Avenue NE is on 16th Avenue N, between 1st and 2nd Street E.
Deerfoot Trail (Highway 2) running north-south is one of two freeways in Calgary, the other being Stoney Trail which presently runs in an elongated horseshoe across the northwest, north and eastern sides of the city (with plans for it to eventually be a complete ring road). Certain other roads have sections that alternate between being a true freeway and an at-grade expressway, with plans to become full freeways. Other major roads in the city are often given the street suffix Trail. such as Glenmore Trail, Crowchild Trail and Bow Trail; many of these roads are expressways for most or all of their length. Roads with the suffixes Boulevard or Drive are generally the next most major classification. Roads with the suffix Avenue run east-west, and roads with the suffix Street run north-south. Note that the names of small suburban roads usually incorporate the community name; this means that Taralake Garden. Taralea Place. Taralea Mews. Taralea Court. Taralean Grove. Taralea Avenue. Taralea Road. Taralea Blvd. Taralea Heath. and Taralea Green are all separate roads, all in the same community - Taradale. It can be very confusing for tourists and locals alike to navigate an area where the only differences in street names are the abbreviations. If travelling in the suburban communities, have a map or directions and pay attention to exact name.
Calgary has a fairly dense downtown, ringed by inner city neighborhoods laid out on a grid pattern for roughly 30-40 blocks. These inner city districts often have unique characteristics and are worth wandering through, for the visitor with some time to spend in the city. The outer suburbs are a typical sprawl of uniform housing and, except for major shopping, parks and other facilities scattered around, have little interest for the typical visitor.
Despite the fact that Calgary technically covers a larger land area than cities of many times its population (such as New York), barring rush hour, weather or construction-related delays, it is relatively quick to travel from one end of the city to the other.
Neighbourhoods of Interest Edit
The Beltline and 17th Avenue. 17th Avenue S.W. is Calgary's premiere place to see and be seen. It boasts a large and eclectic variety of restaurants, unique shops, boutiques, and bars. This street is where Calgary parties, most notably becoming the "Red Mile" during the 2004 Stanley Cup (hockey) playoffs, where up to 100,000 cheering fans gathered to celebrate victories by the hometown Flames (the nickname has remained). While the entirety of the Beltline spans from the Stampede Grounds and Victoria Park on the east to Mount Royal on the west, the dense nightlife on 17th Avenue starts at about 2nd Street SW and goes to 15th Street SW.
Mission. In many ways, Mission acts as an extension of 17th Avenue. Like the Beltline, it is packed full of interesting restaurants and shops. It does not share 17th Avenue's "late night" reputation, however and it generally lacks the bars and nightclubs. It runs along 4th Street SW from 17th Avenue to 26th Avenue.
Forest Lawn International Avenue . Forest Lawn is known for its diverse culture, with the city's best Vietnamese, Lebanese, and Central American eateries lining 17th Avenue S.E. The nightlife of this area is a place to exercise caution. There are many pawn shops that line the streets, if you're looking for a deal.
Kensington . Kensington is located along the Bow River on the north side of downtown. It is another one of Calgary's notable shopping neighbourhoods, with a somewhat more bohemian feel than 17th Avenue (one particular store specializes Birkenstocks and Futons). It offers a good variety of restaurants, with more of an emphasis on coffee shops than on bars. Kensington runs along Kensington Road NW from 14th St NW to 10th St NW, and also north along 10th St NW to 5 Ave NW.
Inglewood. Inglewood is Calgary's oldest neighbourhood and the site of the city's original downtown. It
is also one of Calgary's most culturally influenced and eclectic areas. Inglewood contains everything from stores targeted at bikers, to unique boutiques, antique stores, galleries, and restaurants. It is not as developed as some of the city's downtown districts, but it is quickly becoming one of the city's most popular "urban chic" neighbourhoods. It lies immediately east of downtown (east of 1st Street E) and is concentrated along 9th Avenue SE. Just to the north is the Bow River and the world-famous Calgary Zoo.
Bridgeland (Edmonton Trail on the west, The Campbell Hill on the east, Bridge Crescent NE on the north, and the river/Memorial/Zoo on the south) is a urban revitalization area northeast of the downtown. Although the community has been a destination for years as Calgary's "Little Italy" (hence the abundance of Italian restaurants in the area), the demolition of the old General Hospital in 1998 sparked a long-term project redevelop much of the era. The area is expected to be a family orientated Pearl District (see Portland Oregon) and the initial phases are already done. The area includes posh shops, chic apartments, beautiful lofts, while maintaining the old charm of the distinct houses. Eventually the neighbourhood will have more shops, and some high rise buildings. It is a great area to walk through for those interested in architecture/planning. The far eastern end of Bridgeland connects with the Calgary Zoo and the newly opened Telus Spark science centre.
Marda Loop /Garrison Green (east of Crowchild Trail along 33rd Avenue SW), which contains a large number of quaint shops, restaurants, and services and is a real up and comer area and would be a great place to check out. Marda Loop, centered on the intersection of 33rd Avenue and 20th Street S.W. is the older of the two areas and in mid-August hosts the Marda Gras Street Festival along 33 Avenue between 19 St. and 23 St. S.W. Garrison Green is a newly developed residential/shopping district immediately to the south of 32 Avenue that features its own mix of eclectic shops and old-towne storefronts.
Parkhill is a neighbourhood south of downtown. It is a quite wealthy area that was once home to many old homes. Today it is home to a range of modern designs, with few old homes still standing. It's a very interesting neighbourhood to go to.
Mount Royal is a neighbourhood south of the Downtown with charming old homes, that doesn't conform to the old street grid (that was used back then). The area houses some of Calgary's elite. It is a nice area to do a quiet nice stroll through, admiring old residential. Driving around the community can be challenging due to the preponderance of "traffic calming" and street closures to prevent cut-through traffic.
McKenzie Towne is located on the southeastern outskirts of Calgary (accessible via Deerfoot Trail and McKenzie Towne Boulevard). An exception to the "dull suburb" stereotype, this planned community features parks and classical home facades that come right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Anchoring the area is High Street, a shopping centre disguised as a classic small-town main street. Worth checking out if you've rented a car to visit Spruce Meadows.
Calgary was founded by the Northwest Mounted Police in 1876 and was originally called Fort Briseboise and later changed to Fort Calgary. It was founded in response to a surge of whiskey traders who traded for furs from the natives. In 1883, the first rail station was built and Calgary started to grow in every direction and became a agricultural and business hub. In 1894, it was renamed the City of Calgary. By 1902, oil was discovered, though it didn't mean much until 1947. After, during the fifties, oil became big in Calgary and major companies started heading to Calgary and opening offices. The boom extended into the next twenty years bringing the city to 720,000 people in the metro area by 1985. The relatively low-key low-rise downtown became filled with a sea of skyscrapers, starting with the Calgary Tower and some sixties towers. By the 80s, Calgary's luck turned, and a drop in oil prices sent the Calgary metro economy downward. High unemployment raged, vacancies became a reality,and growth was slow or even negative in some years. In 1988, Calgary held the Winter Olympics and brought world attention to Calgary. By the 1990s, it was on the rebound and began growing again. Calgary today has become a more cosmopolitan city of over one million inhabitants with genuine attempts to diversify its economy and expand its attractiveness to outside visitors.