Notes on the Geography of New Zealand: Dunedin 3 (Residential)
Time to leave downtown.
Dunedin's residential expansion took two primary forms: uphill for those who could afford it; the southern flats, off to the right here, for those who could not.
Detail: the stadium roof at the upper-left here is the Forsyth Barr Stadium, which boasts living turf on its playing field. The name of the stadium does not recall a famous pair of athletes; rather, it honors, so to speak, the investment firm that bought naming rights. See: you can go to the ends of the earth, but you won't escape a world made for money. Funny; where have I heard that phrase before?
The hills aren't a problem for cars, but what about the old days? Answer: Dunedin started using cable cars in 1881, a few years after San Francisco. They're gone now, and ten-year-olds will never how much fun they missed.
Here's Dunedin's equivalent of San Francisco's Lombard Street hill. Name: Canongate. Makes you want to get out your old skateboard? Sorry, I forgot: you're too old to have ever ridden one--and it's way too late to learn.
Cable cars aren't the only thing Dunedin borrowed from San Francisco: try these Stuart Street Victorian terrace houses, built in 1900 for Daniel Haynes, owner of the nearby Drapery and General Importing Company and the Savoy or Haynes Building. The buildings at the corner were doctors' offices; the ones front and center here were townhomes for wealthy farming families who came to town occasionally.
We're climbing up Stuart St toward the Boys' High School (up there in the trees) and catching a first glimpse of how solid citizens lived, as often as possible with a view.
Porches were very common, along with gardens, as here on High Street.
The name of the house is Moata, and the architect was J.L. Salmond, a graduate of Otago Boys' High School who went on to article and partner with Robert. Lawson. He also designed the Stuart Street terrace houses seen a moment ago. The house here was built in 1900 for a warehouse owner named Leslie Harris. Could he have been in South Africa for a time, or was it simply a case that Queen Anne revivalism was popular throughout the Empire?
Closed-in porch (sensible most days) supported on filigreed ironwork.
I see lots of maintenance in this house's future but also plenty of room for a nervous Edwardian to pace, perhaps while mulling wholesale mutton prices.
Pound for pound, as house-proud as the bigger places.
A garden out of control on Malvern Street. No porch, no bay windows, no view: only nature.
Here's the house that visitors are told they absolutely must visit. Worth it? Not unless you're nuts about stucco--in this case a dashing of Moeraki gravel in between limestone quoins and window frames. The inside is interesting (slippery word!), but photos are prohibited, as per Section 25:22 of the Code New Zealandia. The architect was the London-based Sir Ernest George, though the foreground tower is not quite what Sir Ernest suggested.
See Knight and Wales, p. 107.
The garden's nice.
The house was built by David Theomin, an importer who developed several businesses including importing pianos. He died in 1933, but the house remained the home of his spinster but mountain-climbing daughter Dorothy. She willed it to the city, conditional on its becoming a museum. Public access began in 1967.
Stairs to a bricked-in door? No. Instead, stairs for grocery- and bakery- and butcher-delivery boys who could hand stuff in through a window.
Enough people began living on these hills that services began to be provided. Here's what was the Mornington post office.
Edward got around.
A public hall whose name recalls the coronation of his successor.
A school at the top of High Street finally closed in 2012. Its gate survives.
The faint words at the center top read: The Empire Calls.
What were the few owners of flat land near downtown to do if they wanted to build houses there? Answer: views be damned, they'd still have their balconies and fretwork.
Very simple houses had to have some, too.
Porch and lace became as much a sign of respectability as neckties.
Yes, there were flats, here on Dundas street and catering to Otago University students; the jocular name is Coronation Street flats.
A slightly fancier version, with triumphal arches in anticipation of passing exams.
Houses for the professors, back when professors got respect. The houses were designed by the same Maxwell Bury who designed the university's main building. In this case he shifted to brick. The Otago Witness in 1879 wrote that these houses "horrified all moderate tastes by blooming forth in a tint of the darkest and most inflammatory red."
In the 1940s the houses, built as duplexes, were converted to classrooms and offices. See Knight and Wales, p. 91.
Time now for the hoi polloi--that is, the people living on the sandy flats stretching from the city south to the coast. Here's the main commercial corner there, King Edward at Hillside.
A nearby residential street.
A man works up a thirst.
His wife at least still wants that lace.
Style still counts for something.
And here we have the great advantage of living here: proximity to a beach. You can see the harbor in the upper left and the Otago Peninsula stretching off at the upper right. In the middle distance you can see the Forbury Park racecourse.
The flats here were settled late because they were swampy, and they were administratively segregated as the municipality of St. Kilda, which did not merge with Dunedin until 1989.
Property where we're standing is more expensive (naturally) than on the flats.
The Forbury Park Raceway stands.
The St. Clair Hot Salt Water Pool, kept at 82 degrees and chlorinated; it's the last survivor of several pools from the late 1800s.
On the waterfront, this was originally the Hydro Grand Hotel. It closed for a time, then reopened in 1985 as a surf shop.
Around the corner, some more apartments.
A block away, some more. Water views.
The Ocean Beach Railway used to convey residents of Dunedin proper to the beach.
Meanwhile, there's always the Otago Peninsula, the darling of the Otago Peninsula Trust, established in 1967.
There's plenty for the Trust to keep an eye on. Port Chalmers is off the right; the turfed stadium is near the head of the harbor.
The view out to the sea.
And yes, sheep still roam the hills.
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