Stephen Avenue Walk is the face of the city’s downtown. After fire tore through the area’s wooden buildings in 1886, much of it, including this central pedestrian corridor, was rebuilt using sandstone and brick. Today, these historic buildings (or their remaining facades) make Stephen Avenue the most intact turn-of-the-century streetscape west of Montreal.
The avenue’s reinvention in recent years has seen its shops and boutiques proliferate and its bar and restaurant scene undergo a full-blown renaissance. Bustling with foot traffic during the day, street vendors and live entertainers enhance its vibrancy. Once-dead evenings have exploded with nightlife.
Stephen Avenue’s newfound vigour has spread throughout the downtown. First St SE, for instance, has been heavily revitalized. Eschewing boarded shops and vacant lots, the street now features eclectic boutiques, sumptuous delis, bustling markets and art studios as well as thriving pubs and clubs.
• The downtown’s most conspicuous landmark is the 191-metre Calgary Tower. Its observation deck and revolving restaurant offer a panoramic view of the city.
• The Glenbow Museum showcases local history, focusing on western and aboriginal culture. It also features major touring art and cultural exhibitions.
• A legacy of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games, Olympic Plaza hosts festivals and concerts throughout the year. This outdoor square features a pool and fountain in summer and ice-skating in winter.
• The hub of the downtown Cultural District is the Arts Commons, a large arts facility housing many arts and cultural companies including Theatre Calgary.
• Plus-15 Skywalk walkways link several shopping centres in the downtown’s sleek and stylish central shopping zone. As well, Fashion Central features boutiques, international fashion retailers and designer studios.
• Minutes from the city core, Prince’s Island Park on the Bow River is a green urban oasis complete with cycling and walking paths and playgrounds. It is the site of several major summer festivals.