On Friday Te Komititanga, Auckland’s newest public space was opened to the public. It’s a fantastic addition to the city and will be even better once the refurbishment of the old Chief Post Office is completed in March allowing the thousands of people using trains to exit out on to it.
It’s a great improvement and it’s good to have a space that thoroughly embraces being an urban square. Though perhaps a few more trees on the eastern side might have been good.
It’s also a space that has seen many changes over the years, so I thought I’d look at some of them.
To start with, if you tried to stand outside future location for the CPO when Auckland was founded, you’d definitely need to know how to swim as it wasn’t until the late 1800s that the land was reclaimed.
Ever since it was reclaimed it’s been a place to meet and a place of transport. It was the main way to access the city’s first railway station and many of the trams serving the growing city ran through it. In the late 20’s the station was moved out to Beach Rd making it much less useful and I wonder how different transport in Auckland would be today had that not happened, or if the planned earlier iterations of what we now call the City Rail Link had been built.
In 1912 the CPO was completed
In the 1950s the trams were ripped out and the space dedicated to cars. The last tram ran in 1956.
In the late 70’s the road was closed to cars and made into a pedestrian space with Queen Elizabeth Square opening in 1980.
Because I know some of you will raise it, I think key difference between the square of the 80’s and what we have now is the quality but also the improvements to surrounding buildings with Commercial Bay and of course there will be a lot more people thanks to Britomart.
In the early 2000s the area changed again with the opening of Britomart. The main part of lower Queen St once again became a road, but this time for buses only. People exiting the station were often running across the road in front of buses, something somewhat reminiscent of some the shots from a century earlier.
The last buses ran through the area in 2016, which was when works on the City Rail Link started and eventually saw the tunnels dug through from Britomart.
With the tunnels complete it was time to restore the area giving us the space we have today.