Celebrate 150
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History of
London Canada
spacer Pre 1855
spacer 1855 -1955
spacer 1955 - 2005
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  Cultural History

Civic Champions


Within this past fifty year time frame some significant changes have altered the development pattern of the previous period. For a time it appeared that the core, downtown area, would continue to be the energy focal point for a quickly growing community. As London’s centennial approached in 1955 the city had already began to address the need for downtown parking with the creation of the Covent Garden Market Parking facility which was to open in 1959. Further development focused on the construction of the enclosed Wellington Square Retail Mall in 1960. The creation of a new civic square complex including a City Hall and Centennial Hall concert venue contributed to the sense of a vibrant downtown economic centre. A new art gallery and museum was built at the Forks of the Thames in 1981 near the recently completed Federal Court building. In the 1980s the Wellington Square Mall was replaced by the Galleria Mall, an even larger enclosed retail outlet, and a former commercial block on Talbot Street was demolished for a competing retail project.

However, while these projects were underway, economic forces were shifting power to the suburbs and to the regional malls on the outskirts of the city. Highway traffic patterns accelerated this trend. As well, national and global economic patterns saw the transfer of a number of head offices located in London to cities elsewhere in Canada or abroad. While the city continued to grow, the impact of the growth reduced the importance of the former commercial district in the old downtown. Most recently, the city has attempted to revive the downtown areas with capital projects such as a new Covent Garden Market, a combined hockey arena and entertainment centre, a new Central Public Library within the Galleria Mall and a Forks of the Thames Water Park.

Within this same time frame London has also experienced considerable growth in both its medical and educational sectors. The University of Western Ontario has become one of the preeminent facilities in Canada. Fanshawe College is one of Ontario’s major community colleges. Culturally, the city has been further enriched with a variety of heritage museums, a reconstructed Grand Theatre and London Community Playhouse, a new performance hall in the new library and a revitalized Aeolian Hall in the former London East Town Hall. Heritage Conservation Districts have stabilized the heritage character of East Woodfield and the Bishop Hellmuth Districts and plans are underway for a similar district to assist in the revitalization of the Old East community. An extensive trail system has reminded Londoners of their connection to the Thames River, a designated heritage river. Recently - completed renovations to Victoria Park and Storybook Gardens have allowed both sites to continue to offer Londoners recreational opportunities. Summer festivals have become important community events reflecting the cultural diversity of the modern city. Medical, Sports and Business Halls of Fame draw attention to the achievements made by many London citizens over the years.

Sesquicentennial Londoners, now over 348 000 in total, can look back with a sense of accomplishment to the effort and perseverance which has brought their city to where it is today.