Between Frank Kitts Park on Wellington’s waterfront and bustling Willis Street lies Civic Square. To reach the square from the waterfront it is safest to use the sculptural footbridge over hectic Jervois Quay. Here you can linger to look at the view of the harbour or over the inner city buildings to the hills that surround the city.
Civic Square is home to City Gallery Wellington, the City Libraries, Wellington City Council and the Michael Fowler Centre for performing arts. Prominent in the square is “Ferns”, a silver globe sculptured by artist Neil Dawson, suspended by cables above the courtyard area. It provides an interesting counterpoint to the surrounding buildings as well as a prop for visitors posing, Atlas-like, for photographs showing them holding the globe in one hand above their heads.
Victoria Street is reached by a short walk from the square past the Wellington City Libraries. Nearby, between Victoria Street and the parallel Willis Street, is Chew’s Lane. An early Wellington entrepreneur, John Chew, established a successful timber yard in Chew’s Lane in the 1880’s. By the late 2000’s the lane had become neglected and an opportunity was seen to rejuvenate the area and develop a new precinct. Chew’s Lane is now a popular walking shortcut with a mix or retail shops, cafes, apartments and offices. Views of the old Chew’s Lane can be seen in the opening and closing scenes at the “Golden Days” exhibition at Te Papa – New Zealand’s National Museum.