Reason #2 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

Jasper Avenue

by emil tiedemann

I was sixteen when some friends and I went downtown to the Paramount Theatre on Jasper Avenue to watch Tom Cruise in the original Mission: Impossible movie. I can’t really explain it, but there was something invigorating about that particular night. Maybe it was the big cozy seats, or the flashing lights on the marquee, or perhaps it was a buff Tom Cruise?! 

The former Paramount Theatre was a Jasper Avenue highlight.

But it wasn’t just the aging Paramount Theatre, it was the Avenue, it was downtown, it was this whole new world I had barely gotten to know yet. 

Over the years, Jasper Avenue has been the scene of many of my more memorable moments growing up, getting to know the idiosyncrasies of my hometown’s main drag: the intimate Michael Bernard Fitzgerald concert in a parked van just outside of the Starlite Room with my sister and a few strangers; my goodbye party at The Druid before I left Edmonton to spend far less time in Toronto than I had planned to; even my first real make-out session, in a parking lot close to Buddy’s Nite Club. 

There are plenty of others as well, and I know it’s not just me. Jasper Avenue is bustling with memories made by countless other Edmontonians and folks just passing through. There’s so much history on Jasper (technically 101 Avenue, from 82 to 124 Street), dating as far back as the 1870s when it served as the main commercial street in town. 
 
Former home of Edmonton gay bars Buddy's and Woody's.


By the 1940s, the Avenue was supporting motorized vehicles and streetcars, as now-iconic buildings like Hotel Macdonald and Gibson Block paved the way for future development. And although the strip suffered from a decline in the ‘80s when shopping centres began popping up across the city, Jasper Avenue persevered, gaining momentum with the introduction of an underground LRT system that would take passengers right to the downtown street. 

Today the City has invested millions in further redevelopment and streetscaping of the Avenue, which has become home to some of the most sought-after and talked about restaurants (Corso 32, Tres Carnales, The Hat), cafes (Coffee Bureau, Remedy, Lock Stock), bars (BLVD, On the Rocks, Redstar), and shops (Floc Boutique, Audreys Books, TomKat Shoes) in Edmonton. 

One of the most important features of downtown’s revitalization is the construction of condo towers (such as The Pearl and The Emerald) in and around Jasper Avenue, allowing for more Edmontonians to actually live in the heart of it all, and sparking a resurgence in the nighttime and weekend bustle of Jasper Avenue, rather than limiting foot traffic to the nine to five hours of the work week.

Corso 32, one of Edmonton's most praised eateries.

Unfortunately, the majesty that was the Paramount Theatre is no longer, as time takes over; yet the memories will remain for as long as I do. #jasperave
 
'101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton' is available at TIX on the Square.

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