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Halifax Neighborhoods

Most things of interest to visitors to Halifax can be found within downtown, an area that remains easily traversed on foot. There are many buses running through the downtown core, with somewhat irregular service going to the outlying suburbs. In the summer, there is a free bus that does a useful loop in the area: FRED (Free Ride Everywhere Downtown). Halifax Harbor is a natural Eastern border, with the area roughly encased by Cogswell Street in the North, South Park Street to the West, and, logically, South Street.

The harborfront boardwalk, extending from the train station in the south to the restored Historic Properties district in the north offers ample distraction for an afternoon or day. With an increasingly busy cruise ship port at the train station end, the harborfront is considerably more crowded in the warmer months when tour operators, souvenir stalls, cafes, ice cream stands, and the usual gamut of street performers vie for a share of the visitors’ budget. You can also grab a ferry over to the Dartmouth side of the harbor and wander in the Eastern Front Theatre’s Alderney Landing complex, visit an interesting Peace Pavilion, and the view of Halifax.

The National Historic Site Citadel Hill presides over the downtown’s goings on, and various historical landmarks like Province House and City Hall, the open space at Grand Parade, the Victorian Public Gardens, a few museums, and Neptune Theatre are all within 20 minutes of each other – and most of downtown.

With the exception of the two towers at Purdy’s Wharf, the main business area is scattered around Barrington, Duke, and Prince Streets up the hill from the harbor. There are cafes, bars and pubs in every direction, and several small souvenir and clothes shops, particularly along Barrington and Argyle Streets. Spring Garden Road is the main shopping street downtown, with a small mall (Park Lane) that also has an eight-screen cinema, and the main branch of the municipal Public Library.

South End
Typically considered the more well-to-do end of town, Halifax’s south end encompasses just about everything South of South Street and East of Oxford. The Dalhousie Campus and the residential streets closest to the West of campus are usually also included in the approximate designation. With Saint Mary’s University also in the neighborhood, it is an eclectic mix of students, middle and upper class families, and retirees. The late Victorian architecture of the houses and the tree-lined streets make this area pleasant for walking, and the campuses have some nice stone buildings with a few cafes nearby. Point Pleasant Park is also found in the south end, at the tip of the peninsula, and is well worth a visit. The Dalhousie Arts centre is a major venue for local and traveling productions, including Symphony Nova Scotia, and productions of the Dal Theatre program.

North End
The North end is a vibrant, multicultural area of the city and also houses a healthy student population. It extends approximately from Cogswell Street in the South to Bedford Basin in the North, with the shipyards along the harbor to the east. The neighborhood’s main strip, Gottingen Street, and its immediate surroundings are prone to the bad press that haunts lower income areas. It is not inherently unsafe, especially in the daytime, when young families and students go about their business. A few good, alternative or ethnic food cafes, shops, and bars line the street. The Hydrostone neighborhood and market at the north end of Gottingen Street, built after the Halifax Explosion in 1917, is a somewhat wealthier pocket. The small area is quite unique architecturally, with wide boulevards, narrow streets, and service lanes. The market has some of the best pizza and bread in town, and a few interesting shops making it a nice stop on a weekend morning. Not far from the Hydrostone is the Music Room, a small recital hall built by the Scotia Festival of Music for acoustic music and recording which frequently hosts interesting local and visiting musicians.

West End
The West end of Halifax is mostly residential and leads off the peninsula towards subdivisions, the Bayers Lake Industrial Park, and out of town. Quinpool Road is close to downtown and has several local greasy spoon eateries, a few ethnic restaurants, fast food, and some shops. The streets near Dalhousie in the Southwest are nice for walking, and the subdivision of Westmount, with its pedestrian paths, is a quiet bit of respite if you choose to walk out to the Halifax Shopping Centre.

Surrounding Areas
Like many Canadian cities, Halifax is experiencing a great deal of development in its outlying areas. For those in need of a big screen and big sound experience, the Bayers Lake Industrial Park has a 17-screen theatre and Imax. The BLIP is near the relatively new Clayton Park West Subdivision and is a 25-minute car ride or long bus ride on irregular service from the center of town. Major stores and food outlets are found here as well.

Dartmouth, Bedford and Sackville are the three surrounding population centers with which Halifax was amalgamated in 1996 to create the Halifax Regional Municipality. Dartmouth’s waterfront is nice for an afternoon stroll, and Mic Mac Mall, the largest in the area, is found in Dartmouth. Bedford is quite hilly and pleasant, with the extremely popular Pete’s Frutique and 1950s/60’s style Chicken Burger along the Bedford Highway. All three are quite small, and largely residential in comparison to Halifax.

These outlying areas and the older subdivisions on the western side of the Halifax arm all have nice lakes and parks within their bounds, and are the gateway to other wilderness areas and the rest of the province.


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