When Nelson was hit by the double-digit recession of the 1980s, its then mayor and council came up with a brilliant idea: transform this down-at-heel former mining and railway town into a heritage attraction. At the time funds were available from both federal and provincial governments for heritage building restorations so Nelson set to work fixing up 100-year-old buildings that had been badly neglected. Some amazing architectural treasures were unearthed from beneath aluminum siding, including brick and granite structures designed by top 19th century architects, including Francis Rattenbury, who designed BC's original Parliament building in Victoria (before it burned down). Instead of pandering to the ugly modernization craze that has destroyed heritage monuments in cities like Calgary and Vancouver, Nelson has thus preserved a unique and highly inviting downtown core that has few equals in a city of its small size.
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