The downtown core, on the northern side of the North Saskatchewan River, is fairly compact and is within walking distance of many hotels. Jasper Avenue (101st Ave.) is downtown’s main thoroughfare, lined with restaurants and shops. At the east end of Jasper Avenue is the Shaw Conference Centre, a glass-and-steel building that appears to cling to the wall of the river valley.
On 102nd Street is the 36-story ManuLife Place, Edmonton’s tallest building. A few blocks east is the Arts District, comprising the provincial government buildings, including the futuristic city hall, and an array of performing-arts centers. (The streets immediately east of 97th Street are a skid row with sleazy bars and suspicious-looking characters—not the place to linger at night.)
Throughout all of the development, several historic buildings managed to survive. Many can be seen along Heritage Trail, a route taken by early fur traders that linked the old town to Fort Edmonton. Today the trail begins at the Shaw Conference Centre, at the corner of Jasper Avenue and 97th Street, and ends at the legislature grounds. The path is easy to follow—the sidewalk is paved with red bricks and lined with period benches, replica lampposts, and old-fashioned street signs.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition