Christchurch Earthquake 2011
The stump of the Christ Church Cathedral spire has become a symbol of what we lost on February 22, but just a few blocks west lies a shattered icon that is equally moving.
Only the crooked base of the fallen Observatory tower remains.
Scaffolding, masonry and a large concrete ring from the top of the tower are spread across the stone courtyard.
A car sits crushed under the rubble. Wooden furniture can be seen in the now open-air first floor.
All this destruction in the quiet, leafy shade of the Art Centre's Northern Quadrant.
This is a place that was animated with crowds, laughter and comedy just weeks before as part of the World Buskers Festival.
Now, it is deserted and in ruins.
It was a sight that left me stunned and tearful. A symbol of the destruction.
I had already seen a lot of damage in the Arts Centre. A fallen turret, a cartoon crack down the length of the clock tower, a coffee cart cleaved in two by a chunk of masonry.
It was painful to see because the Arts Centre is place of such life and pleasant memories – a place that is close to every Christchurch heart.
However, the Observatory is not just a symbol of what we have lost. It is also a symbol of what we will rebuild.
A new modern tower may be built on the crooked stump of the Observatory.
The remains could be kept as a reminder of how much was destroyed in the quake.
Arts Centre director Ken Franklin has the resolve and the insurance cover to restore and rebuild the historic complex. The site teems with workmen, engineers and cranes working to make it safe for restoration work.
It feels like the city in microcosm.
We have lost so much, but we are getting ready to rebuild.
Franklin says he keeps himself going by thinking of the day the restored and improved Arts Centre is reopened to the public.
I look forward to that day.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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