A pressure wave snapped trees, bent iron rails, demolished buildings, grounded vessels, and scattered fragments of the Mont-Blanc for kilometres. The earliest reconstruction efforts began right away, with the construction of 832 new housing units built and furnished thanks in large part to the efforts of Colonel Robert Low and the Massachusetts-Halifax Relief Fund. This area was lost following the explosion. While the entire Hydrostone District has been registered as a National Historic Site since 1993, the individual homes that make up the neighbourhood are not protected as heritage structures. There was a confusion of whistle blasts over who should move to the right and at 8:45am the two ships collided. Seen in the above map, the affected area reached several blocks inward from the harbour, with varying degrees of devastation indicated by the half-, one-, and two-mile radius lines outlined in blue. A 18ft tsunami carried the Imo onto the shore of Dartmouth, the community adjacent to Halifax. Site of the Halifax Explosion, two days later, December 8, 1917, image via the Nova Scotia Archives. The ruins of the former Halifax Exhibition Building pictured below, which had been situated within the associated Exhibition Grounds, were found within the second blast radius on the above map, and the adjacent grid of city streets immediately below the Grounds became the centrepiece of the reconstruction efforts that led to the creation of Hailfax's Hydrostone District. Hydrostone District from above, image via Nova Scotia Archives. The Halifax Explosion started when two ships collided in the harbor of the Nova Scotian capital of Halifax. As such, the Imo and Mont-Blanc faced each other head on. Lined on either side by large, often Arts-and-Crafts-inspired attached and detached homes, the picturesque boulevard design, paired with the placement of larger-than-usual homes, created a pleasing streetscape and architectural aesthetic that has helped define this unique neighbourhood and historic district to this day. The busy nature of the Bedford Basin caused the Imo to sail on the wrong side, (like cars, ships are supposed to stay on the right side). Loved for its quirky historic charm and unusual cinderblock construction, The Hydrostone is truly one of a kind, setting the neighbourhood apart from virtually all others of its vintage not only within Halifax, but across the whole of Canada from coast to coast. Curious spectators had gathered to watch the ships on fire. The small city was crucial to naval operations. Created from the outset as an example of a Garden City, The Hydrostone was laid out in a rectangular grid, broken up into regular intervals by a series of wide, grass-covered boulevards and narrow, back alleys and laneways. The manager and eleven employees were killed. While the facilities in the water were largely unarmed, the surrounding area on land was disseminated. Cityscape will return soon with a new installment, and in the meantime, SkyriseCities welcomes new suggestions for additional cities and styles to cover in the weeks to come. Ships with dangerous cargo were not allowed in the harbour, but fear of German U-Boats had relaxed this restriction. 4 – The Halifax Explosion was the largest man-made explosion prior to the Atomic Bomb (by overall measure of deaths, explosive force, and radius of destruction). http://new.gallery.dal.ca/sites/default/files/halifax_explosion_panel.pdf, https://www.facebook.com/events/291793061298961/. The Royal Canadian Navy used the port as their North American base. French munitions… Why is the Beaver Canada's National Symbol? Ruins of the Halifax Exhibition Building, 1919, image via the Library of Congress. ~2000 died due to the explosion. Despite the tragedy, Halifax carried on. 2000 people were killed instantly by the blast, with a further 9000 wounded, and an unknown number of indigenous Mi'kmaq people were lost when their entire settlement was completely destroyed by the resultant tsunami. The SS Imo, a ship bound for New York for Belgian relief supplies, had been delayed in the Bedford Basin due to a late supply of 50 tons of coal. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Sir John A. Macdonald's Complex Legacy, Men's Fashion During and After the French Revolution (1790-1810), The Rise and Fall of Prohibition in Canada (Part Two), The Group of Seven and Canadian Nationalism. Equivalent to a 2.9-kiloton blast of TNT, this was the largest explosion ever experienced up until the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, and it left the small maritime capital — and the Canadian base of naval operations — in ruins. The city and the Halifax Relief Commission, which was assembled within hours of the explosion, decided to use this disaster as an opportunity rebuild Halifax better than ever. 1600+ homes were lost, leaving thousands more homeless. The ruins of Army & Navy Brewery operated by Halifax Breweries Limited at Turtle Grove, Dartmouth. Kitz, Janet, et al. The Halifax Explosion was a disaster that occurred in Halifax, Nova Scotia, ... Nearly all structures within an 800-metre (half-mile) radius, including the community of Richmond, were obliterated. It is this inspection system that lies behind the now 97 year old tragedy. Every building within a 2.6km radius was levelled. Since Halifax was a military base, there were many soldiers on hand to assist with rescue and relief efforts. Every building within a 2.6km radius was levelled. The remains of the hull were shot up 1000 ft into the air. The Mont-Blanc was completely blown apart. It was the largest man-made explosion in history, up until Hiroshima in WWII. The story of the largest single man-made explosion in recorded history prior to the 1945 test explosions of the atomic bomb and the devastation it wreaked. While reports of shattered glass and missing roof tiles were recorded from every corner of the city, by far the worst-hit area remained the Richmond District closest to the explosion, as outlined in red. This edition of Cityscape will take an in-depth look at Halifax's famed Hydrostone District, ground zero for the reconstruction that took place in the immediate wake of the explosion, and the birthplace of Nova Scotia's only known example of the Garden City Movement from the turn of the last century. Selected for its low cost, quick construction, and most importantly, its high degree of heat and fire resistance, the use of hydrostone allowed for the massive reconstruction project to move along as quickly as possible while simultaneously fire-proofing the area against any potential future explosions, fires, or other similar disasters. Buildings in a radius of over 1,600 feet from the blast were leveled. Richmond, a neighbourhood in Halifax, was completely wiped off the map. Newsletter Signup, Tuesday to Friday: 11am to 5pm Also, the Canadian war effort was largely unscathed as the port itself escaped significant damage. Map of the Halifax Explosion's blast radius, image via Library and Archives Canada. The following day a blizzard occurred, hampering relief efforts. The result of a collision between the SS Mont Blanc, a French cargo ship loaded with explosives en route to France, and the SS Imo, a nearby Norwegian vessel attempting a manoeuvre, the devastation obliterated virtually every structure within an 800-metre radius, with severe damage dealt to hundreds of structures across the city and in nearby Dartmouth across the harbour. The blast travelled at over 1,000 metres per second. Two soldiers stand guard. It was the starting point of the transatlantic convoy system, which brought soldiers and supplies to the Allies. In seconds, the flames eviscerated every building in a half-mile radius, while a brutal shockwave tore through the rest of the city, traveling more than half a mile per second and shaking the city to its bones. Following the explosion, a thick cloud of white smoke billowed over the city. The Halifax Explosion started when two ships collided in the harbor of the Nova Scotian capital of Halifax. More than 2.5 square km of Richmond were totally levelled, either by the blast, the tsunami, or the structure fires caused when buildings collapsed inward on lanterns, stoves and furnaces. Anchored at its southern boundary along Young Street by the vibrant collection of shops and restaurants of the Hydrostone Market, the neighbourhood has in recent years become an enclave of young urban professionals and their families, the formerly working-class neighbourhood within a brisk 30-minute walk to downtown Halifax quickly becoming one of the city's most desirable neighbourhoods. Hydrostone District laneway, image by Flickr user Paul via Creative Commons. The Hydrostone Market, image by Flickr user Sara Star NS via Creative Commons. With no homes, thousands sought food and shelter throughout the winter of 1917-1918. The following day a blizzard occurred, hampering relief efforts. Newly made pine coffins supplied by Snow & Co., Undertakers, for victims of the explosion. The remains of the SS Mont-Blanc’s hull were blown 1000ft into the air. Explosion in The Narrows: The 1917 Halifax Harbour Explosion Kepe’kek: At the Narrows. Conveys resumed operation on December 11 and continued through to the end of the war. 3 – 2,000 people were killed and 9,000 more were injured in the Halifax Explosion. The Garden City Movement was born out of the larger City Beautiful Movement, which valued a high level of urban planning and architectural cohesion paired with ample public green space. Responding to the explosion was an international effort , whose efforts are still honored by Halifax and Boston to this day. (Not-so) Fun Fact: How do you make a situation like this even worse? For programming updates, please sign up to our Newsletter (link at bottom of this page). Also, any neutral ship bound for North America had to pass through Halifax for inspection. The creation of today's Hyrdostone District took notably longer, with the first residents of the new Garden City-inspired neighbourhood to taking occupancy in mid-1919, while the last structures weren't completed until 1922. Emergency relief hospital in the YMCA, Barrington Street, Halifax. The Explosion that Leveled a City T hursday, December 6, 1917 dawned over Halifax as beautifully as had countless other bright, snow-covered days during the late Nova Scotia autumn. Looking north from grain elevator towards Acadia Sugar Refinery (c. 1900). Seen in the above map, the affected area reached several blocks inward from the harbour, with varying degrees of devastation indicated by the half-, one-, and two-mile radius lines outlined in blue. Built almost entirely out of the eponymous hydrostone, all 326 homes in the District showcased a relatively new product that was essentially a concrete cinderblock formed via a hydraulic pressing process then finished to give the approximate appearance of cut stone. As the Imo tried to disengage, sparks were created, which led to an out-of-control fire, and ultimately the explosion at 9:04am. Typical Hydrostone District streetscape with boulevard, image by Flickr user Paul via Creative Commons. Kaye Street in Halifax was devastated by the explosion. Hydrostone houses, image via Google Street View. A man stands in front of a destroyed home on Campbell Road, Halifax. (Not-so) Fun Fact: How do you make a situation like this even worse?
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