Olhão

Does your shopping street still look the same?

I find it rather special when places hardly change

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‘.

Rua do Comércio
Rua do Comércio, paved in 1838, photographed by Frederic Marjay in the 1960s

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.originally called Rua do Rosário

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. also known as Rua das LojasFor 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.In front of the markets

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.

10 comments on “Does your shopping street still look the same?

  1. While in part in agreement,Olhao streets/pavements,for a crumbling fellow from the thirties, are a devil for the knees!
    Not all changes are bad,and modern road systems are much more comfortable and safer.It took me 4 days to drive from Valencia to GiB in 1972,while northern Portugal was a thing apart in1966.

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    • That is very true . . .and from the pictures I have seen of spring tides in Olhao, I am pleased there is now a harbour wall! Guess I want the best of both worlds.

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  2. If my memory is right, Winchester has a rather ugly shopping centre right in the town centre, as we do here. I’ve seen plenty worse than ours, and our Princesshay is loads better than the 1950’s thrown-up-quickly one it replaced!

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  3. It is remarkable how little changed that area of Olhao is, Becky (despite the councils best efforts 😦 ). My home town is enormously changed. I suppose now I’ll have to dig you out some photos. 🙂 🙂

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  4. That’s amazing – people from all three eras would instantly recognise their Street from the other two pictures. I would say many of the streets round Glasgow would be recognisable, though blighted with a few concrete monstrosities and too many Starbucks etc. Others have disappeared completely under motorways and shopping centres. Sad to read that Winchester is not being properly preserved.

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  5. Wonderful, and how clever of you to make the connection.

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