Roaming the back alleys of GALA you may come across ramshackle structures that appear out of place amidst the row houses fronting the street. These barn-like, crumbly brick structures seemingly pop out of nowhere, the oversized entrance facing the alleyway. Many concrete cinder block buildings of more recent vintage are also found in GALA’s alleys. Some back lanes have identical car garages directly behind every house, leading one to believe they were all built at the same time by a developer.

The city had different rules then in allowing secondary buildings on a homeowner’s lot then it does now – especially since they were out of sight in an alley. Besides possessing an automobile many working men of GALA operated shops and personal businesses out of their alley garages, a tradition which continues to this day.

The much rarer sharply peak roofed building consisting of chipped crumbling discolored red brick with a hay loft door boarded up on the second floor or eaves is a dead giveaway for a 19th century carriage house from the horse and buggy era.

Many have been converted into car garages, covered in vinyl siding and the slatted wooden doors replaced by a sliding steel door.

Carriage or coach houses are rectangular structures that stored the carriages, tack and of course the horses. In some neighborhoods the carriage house of the very affluent might have been accessed by an elaborate `carriageway’ at street level but most carriage houses were strictly utilitarian affairs, tucked and hidden away at the back of the house and reached by a nondescript alleyway.

In the early part of the 19th century, GALA was part of the `garden district’ of Hamilton. Only a few rambling ornate houses occupied the streets where dozens or more sit tightly compressed today.

With the rising concern of affordable housing, the increased interest in Secondary Dwelling Units (SDU’s) is it time to learn from the past and make it part of the present and our future? With your help more examples of GALA’s rich 19thcentury alley heritage wait to be discovered and we anxiously await the next phase housing options.