Art Deco Architecture

The Old Modern - Then and Now

Posts tagged natural disaster

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Best Wishes to Christchurch

As we reach the end of this short New Zealand Deco series. I’d like to send out best wishes and hopes to the city of Christchurch. News reports are just beginning to come out on the extent of the damage and already it sounds pretty major — lives lost, churches ruined, people trapped under rubble, roads wrecked. This is the Christchurch Catholic Cathedral:

Christchurch Catholic Cathedral

New Zealanders are a strong and industrious lot, but it is still a devastating event. My neighborhood here in Atlanta took a direct hit from a tornado three years ago and while minor in comparison, it was a major event and you can still see some of the effects today.

(For more info on NZ and earthquakes, see this post from last night on Napier.)

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New Zealand and Earthquakes

The news of the devastating 6.3-magnitude earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, prompts me to share this info about Napier, NZ, the city whose buildings I’ve been posting these past couple of days.

Why is there so much Deco in Napier? On Feb. 3, 1931, the Hawke’s Bay / Napier area was hit by a massive earthquake - 7.8 on the Richter scale. The quake lasted 2 1/2 minutes and there were over 500 aftershocks. The city was largely leveled. Over 200 (not more?) were killed. The quake remains New Zealand’s deadliest natural disaster.

As a result of the quake, there was a thorough review of the country’s building codes, which were totally inadequate. There was also a rethink of construction. The new buildings of the 1930s & 1940s — the lovely Art Deco structures I’ve been sharing — were built heavily reinforced and were usually under five stories tall. Basically a whole city had to be rebuilt and since that was the style and they wanted the city to be “modern,” that’s what they did. The result: Tons and tons of Deco.

More on Napier & the quake:

Filed under earthquake christchurch new zealand napier art deco natural disaster 1931 1930s history