Saturday, May 16, 2015

Sepia Saturday #279: 'What was, that is, but isn't': Marrying past & present

A city should be a living, breathing entity which is allowed to stretch and change in order to remain alive; however, some of us who want to preserve the past cringe when we see beautiful old buildings torn down in favour of 'new builds', some of which seem put up for utility rather than looks. So too, sometimes what is left from the past is not always as beautiful as we might hope.

The inspiration image for today's Sepia Saturday reminded me of those wonderful instances in which developers decide to marry the old and the new. They are able to maintain the living city, by renovating and refitting the structures of the past for modern day usage, while still preserving the best of what once was, and in some cases, even greatly improving on it. So, my contribution for today's Sepia Saturday features some of the spaces and places in Dublin, which exemplify a happy marriage between past and present.

Most striking among these is a metal structure — the old gasworks in Ringsend, Dublin — near my mother's childhood home on Gordon Street. When I was a child I loved the structure, because it looked to me like an enormous cage, perfect for capturing dragons and all sorts of other fantasy creatures. Thought by some to be an eyesore, in recent years it has been transformed into an apartment complex. 

The gasworks, towering over the row houses of South Lotts Road, 1950s.
From a similar perspective, over 60 years later, the gasworks conversion finds the neighbourhood little changed.
Built in 1881, the George's Street Arcade, also called St. George's Market,
is Ireland's first purpose-built shopping centre.
Photo, circa 1895, NLI.
The upper facade of the complex remains little changed. Unfortunately, the awnings are long gone,
as are the tram tracks of South Great St. George's Street.
Powerscourt Townhouse,
home to Richard Wingfield, 3rd Viscount Powerscourt (1730-1788), and his wife Lady Amelia.
Lord and Lady Powerscourt bought the townhouse so that they could entertain guests
 'in town' during the Parliamentary season.
They were renowned for the parties they hosted in this home.
The street is now much more narrow, but the Powerscourt Townhouse facade remains virtually unchanged.
Inside another sort of party goes on, with all manner of wares to delight shoppers.
Be sure to stop by the Sepia Saturday blog to connect with others and see how they have been inspired by today's posted image.

©irisheyesjgg2015.

18 comments:

  1. Jenn, great selection of photos. I especially like the first ones. I like the idea of a living city using the best of the past.

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    1. Charlotte, thanks very much for your comments. The first images are my favourites as well. Something beautiful brought forth from something utilitarian.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  2. How wonderful to have that gasworks used as the basis for an apartment complex.

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    Replies
    1. Brett, thanks very much for your comment. It is wonderful isn't it? Nice to see it so transformed.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  3. I'm struck by the innovative use of that gas holder too.

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    1. Bob, thanks very much for your comment. The building holds 200 hundred apartments in 9 stories, while keeping the gas holder intact. The Armchair Traveller gives quite a good summary of the result here: http://armchairtravelogue.blogspot.ca/2009/06/dublin-gasworks-apartments-alliance.html

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  4. Your 'then' & 'now' photos remind me of a place in Washington, D.C. where a whole line of old row houses were spiffed up very neatly in the front as a façade for a wonderful multi-level mall on the reverse side complete with not only shops but several nice restaurants as well.

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    Replies
    1. La Nightingail, thanks very much for your comments. Indeed, the place in Washington sounds just like St. George's Market and Powerscourt Townhouse — lots of lovely shops and restaurants. It delights me that they thought enough to save the facades of what were once grand spaces.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  5. Such fabulous photographs of beautiful buildings, Jennifer. I know there are changes but so much has remained intact with these buildings and environments, unlike here in the U.S. where people have no hesitation about tearing down beautiful old buildings to put up ugly new structures that they'll tear down again in 50 years.

    I especially like the arches and the rhythm in the buildings in the second pairs of photographs. Lovely.

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    1. Nancy, thanks very much for your comments. It makes me sad to see and hear of such tear downs. I'm with you as to the second pairs of photos. I just love those buildings.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  6. Great photos! Preservation requires a long range vision of what qualities are important to a city. The link to the gasworks conversion showed the unexpected interior courtyard. Looks like a wonderful place to live.

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    1. Mike, thanks very much for your comments. I totally agree with what you say about preservation and long range vision. We who love the past have to hope that our city planners have that very vision. The gasworks does look like a wonderful place to live.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  7. Cities in transition are wonderrful places if one has the eye and the heart to make it beautirful. Nice marriage of then, now, and will be/

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    1. Joan, thanks very much for your comments. I agree with you, if those in charge of the transition have the eye and the heart, then the results will be beautiful.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  8. I like seeing old buildings converted into living spaces or neat little shops.

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    1. Wendy, thanks very much for your comment. Me too! I'm with you, I like a building with a past.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  9. I can see why the gasworks towers took your mind took you to fantasy. The towers are beautiful and I like the conversion that's been done.

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    1. Lorraine, thanks very much for your comments. Fantasy into a beautiful reality. I very much like the conversion too.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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Cheers, Jennifer

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