I was struggling to think of a subject and to find photographs for today’s #PastmeetsPresent when I remembered the fascinating photographic record produced by Dr Frederic Marjay using Asahi Pentax Spotmatic Cameras. Opening it up I soon found myself looking at his photograph of Rua do Comércio – once described as the ‘showcase of Olhão, its way of living and feeling‘.
As you can see the street isn’t that much different from my header photograph which is from a much earlier postcard, and almost exactly the same as the ones I have taken over the past couple of years.
Quite remarkable really how little has changed given the behaviors of the local council. Like the city council of Winchester in the UK the council in Olhão have a tendency to approve developments which will dramatically modernise parts of their historic towns with buildings that are clearly (at least to me and many others) inappropriate in size and not in harmony with surrounding buildings. It is not that I am against new developments, if done right they can add enormously to how a town feels, looks and prospers. However the councils in Winchester and Olhão seem to make a habit of not caring if their town loses its unique allure. For example in Olhão over the past year the traditional calçadas have been replaced with paving slabs in many streets and there were proposals to demolish viable old buildings to either straighten roads or replace with large monstrosities. The impression I have is that both councils have been and to some extent still are more focused on making a financial and political gain in the short term than enabling long term prosperity, and neither seem to care about maintaining the charm, history nor soul of their historic centres. Fortunately in both cities there are local residents and visitors who do recognise the beauty and history of their towns and are campaigning hard to ensure that any development in their historic centres have a positive long term impact and add to rather than detract from their existing urban beauty and charm.
Do you have similar problems in your town? Has your shopping street changed for the better (or worse?!) over the past 10, 50 or 100 years? Do share by leaving a comment below or even better by sharing some photographs of your own using the tag #pastmeetspresent. I thought I’d finish with Dr Marjay’s photograph of the sea front in Olhão, an area I consider to be Olhão’s ‘showcase‘ these days. The market buildings may not have changed but the activities on the front certainly have! Just compare with my stroll along the front back in February.
PS I found the photograph for my header photo here. A website well worth visiting as it also provides a a brief historical overview of Rua do Comércio. And if you want to enjoy more then and now shots of Olhão visit here.