Byways & Skyways

You can tell the weather of certain northern towns by their building construction, at least in the most recent. Take the Twin Cities (Minneapolis, St Paul Minnesota for those not from the Upper Midwest. Back more than 30 years ago, some one with a streak of genius decided that no one really likes walking outside in wind, driving snow and -20* (in this case, it really doesn’t matter *C or *F, just think cold). If something was not done to revitalize downtown areas, all that would be left would be a few hardy businesses and lawyers. Everyone else seeming to have fled to the suburbs in the 1950s and 60s.

How about connecting the buildings above street level? Say about the second or third story so that trucks could still use the streets but the pedestrians would stay warm and dry. And so the Skyways were born. I don’t know for certain that the first major connections originated in Minnesota but the Twin Cities have perhaps one of the most extensive networks. I have seen the same in Calgary, just with a different name. After searching for yarn store in St John the last time I was here, I found a partial system without much signage starting on the second floor of what appeared to be a government building.

The whole process is not without cost, especially to those who have shops at street level. It would seem on the surface that for half a year or more they would be fine with customers walking in front of their doors. Admittedly those fortunate enough to have had space on both second and first floors might be a bit more successful as they would have a presence and be ready to take advantage of the winter season. In fact, I think that humans are creatures of habit. If they take skyways to avoid the cold and snow in the winter, they are likely to take them in spring and fall to avoid wind and rain. That means that they are going to take the skyways, leaving merchants in a quandary. Store fronts are visible to anyone in a car, on bike or on foot. They are not visible to those hurrying above the street. At the same time, all those shops on the second floor are invisible to those above. You have to know that they are there. Same principle as to why mall space on the main floor costs more, second floor costs less and the food court is tucked either one floor down or up on the third floor. Everyone knows it exists. If they are hungry they will find it. Why have it compete with retail space?

Back to my original discussion – there are skyways here. An extensive retail and business structure. St John was also where the brand new gangway was first hooked to the Enchantment of the Seas, Sept 2012. Unfortunately, it didn’t want to unhook, causing chaos on the docks and 2 hour waits to reboard. As I remember the fix involved a cutting torch and a return to a standard gangway rather than the lovely enclosed number through which we disembarked.

Today there were absolutely no issues at all. I walked a portion of the old city and went into Brunswick Square to see if I could find WiFi. Imagine my surprise at the Running Store being open early. The reason? The local Canadian Air Cadets were having a fun run/walk. So how could I resist? I donated my money, walked the 3k with a nice Canadian Army Officer and her husband (the daughter was being spoiled by grandparents for the day) and cheered in all the kids. If I hadn’t been lazy I could have gone back to the ship and changed shoes, but I didn’t.

I have grabbed postcards, a magnet or three and am now about to hike back out to the Reversing Falls Bridge. Then the yarn shop which is open till 1800 but the ship is leaving about 1530 so those are my limits. I remember the fix involved a cutting torch and a return to a standard gangway rather than the lovely enclosed number through which we disembarked. Today there were absolutely no issues at all. I walked a portion of the old city and went into Brunswick Square to see if I could find WiFi. Imagine my surprise at the Running Store being open early. The reason? The local Canadian Air Cadets were having a fun run/walk. So how could I resist? I donated my money, walked the 3k with a nice Canadian Army Officer and her husband (the daughter was being spoiled by grandparents for the day) and cheered in all the kids. If I hadn’t been lazy I could have gone back to the ship and changed shoes, but I didn’t. I have grabbed postcards, a magnet or three and am now about to hike back out to the Reversing Falls Bridge. Then the yarn shop which is open till 1800 but the ship is leaving about 1530 so those are my limits.

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One Response to Byways & Skyways

  1. AlisonH says:

    My way or the skyway, eh?

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