Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Just add water

Earlier this week we took a run up to Albany, here in North Shore City, and passed along Schnapper Rock Road. At one point we were stopped in traffic and I rolled down the window and snapped this photo (click on it to embiggen).

Very recently, there was nothing here (and the Google Maps image shows nothing there at the time they shot their photo). It’s weird to see formerly open land gobbled up so quickly.

This is kind of indicative of the way housing is being built now—almost American-style subdivisions (though they’re not called that here). This sort of thing has gone up all over the North Shore, and I’ve seen it in Hamilton, too: Reasonably large houses on relatively small sections (“lots” in the lingo where I grew up), generally only the minimum size allowed. Way different from the old days of “quarter acre sections”.

In the middle distance is a green field; that’s Albany Junior High School, the establishment of which caused a huge controversy because it was thought to be too American (at the time, and probably now, there were no “junior high schools” in New Zealand). Kind of fitting, then, that American-style housing is going up near it.

But the point of this photo isn’t to show another example of “creeping Americanism”; instead, I just wanted to show what a current housing development in our area looks like, and this is one of the clearest shots I’ve seen (thanks to the high ground).


Anonymous said...

You know I love your blog... but I feel I need to take issue with "...there was nothing here...".

Presumably you mean mean there was grass, trees and maybe more.

I'm concerned about more than semantics - too often the natural world is taken for granted, as shown by phrases like wasteland, empty ground, etc. It's not empty, or wasted, it's just not in use by humans!

Arthur Schenck said...

Your implication is correct, that I used the phrase to mean there were no buildings, then suddenly there were. And I also agree with you that people take the natural word for granted and often see it only from a human's perspective. My favourite example is when the media talks about "shark infested waters" when, from the shark's perspective, it must be human-infested.

I can assure you there was nothing "natural" left in that space. The forests had been cleared a century or more earlier, and many of the plants that would've grown there are classified as noxious weeds—usually introduced pests that have no natural enemies in New Zealand. So, even here, "natural" is a relative term.

Still, you make a valid point that more people shuld be aware of.