Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Christchurch Past and Present.

To look back some quarter of a century in the history of a colonial town and mark the improvements and progress made, is not only instructive, but to many a pleasant reviving of old memories.

The early struggles, the hardships, and the discomforts inseparable from the earlier phases of colonial life are remembered now — whatever they may have been felt at the time - as a rather jovial time.

Those amongst us who after having borne the heat and burden of the day are now enjoying the well earned fruits of their labors, will have an additional feeling of pleasure when they compare the Christchurch of 1854 with that of 1877.

The block map of the city recently issued by Mr Strouts, and which has been accepted by the City Council as the official map, enables one to make this comparison most effectually. By means of the block system, whereby the several houses on each block are shown, one is enabled at a glance to see the extent to which our city has extended. Old colonists will well remember that for many years the inhabited portion of the city was but small. Where now exist rows of handsome villas was then open grass land, and, except a small cluster of houses round what is now the centre of a thriving city, houses were not.

The rapid strides made therefore, which are so clearly delineated on the map referred to, make it an invaluable reference to the old resident, whilst to the new comer it affords a vast amount of information which will be valuable to him in ascertaining the position of any place he may desire to find out. In addition to the blocks and streets being carefully shown, the public buildings of the city are numbered on the plan, and an index given, so that they may at once be discerned.

But the map goes further than this in the matter of furnishing us with some interesting statistics, from which we can make the comparison between Christchurch past and present. After noting the first step in its history, the survey and laying out in 1850, it proceeds to give us the materials for the task of contrasting the two epochs.

In 1854 we find the population to have been 548 all told, and the number of houses 109. In three years, that was in 1857, the population had increased to 953, and the number of houses to 177. Taking now a step of seventeen years, we come to 1874, and the comparison is something wonderful. The population then was 10,284, with an annual assessment of £103,473 and 2000 houses within the city.

Only three years more, or up to the present time, and we find still more gratifying evidences of progress. The population, from 953 in 1857, or twenty years back, has increased to 13,200; the number of buildings from 177 in 1857 to 4178. We have thirty-two miles of streets formed and channelled and partly paved, and gas laid on throughout a considerable portion of the whole. Of our railways, electric telegraphs, &c it is needless to speak. It will be seen that the map to which we have been referring is not only useful as a faithful representation of the city as it is, but enables us to arrive at some idea of the manner in which during the past few years it has extended.

It has been issued by. Mr Frederick Strouts, the compilation having been executed by Mr Lambert, and the lithography by the Press Company. Altogether it is so useful for reference, &c., that everyone should possess a copy.

Press, Volume XXVIII, Issue 3799, 25 September 1877, Page 3

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