1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Christchurch (New Zealand)

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CHRISTCHURCH, a city near the east coast of South Island, New Zealand, to the north of Banks Peninsula, in Selwyn county, the capital of the provincial district of Canterbury and the seat of a bishop. Pop. (1906) 49,928; including suburbs, 67,878. It stands upon the great Canterbury plain, which here is a dead level, though the monotony of the site has been much relieved by extensive plantations of English and Australian trees. A background is supplied by the distant mountains to the west, and by the nearer hills to the south. The small river Avon winds through the city, pleasantly bordered by terraces and gardens. The wide streets cross one another for the most part at right angles. The predominance of stone and brick as building materials, the dominating cathedral spire, and the well-planted parks, avenues and private gardens, recall the aspect of an English residential town. Christchurch is mainly dependent on the rich agricultural district which surrounds it, the plain being mainly devoted to cereals and grazing. Wool is extensively worked, and meat is frozen for export. Railways connect with Culverden to the north and with Dunedin and the south coast, with many branches through the agricultural districts; also with Lyttelton, the port of Christchurch, 8 m. S.E. There are tramways in the city, and to New Brighton, a seaside suburb, and other residential quarters. The principal public buildings are the government buildings and the museum, with its fine collection of remains of the extinct bird, moa. The cathedral is the best in New Zealand, built from designs of Sir G. Gilbert Scott in Early English style, with a tower and spire 240 ft. high. Among educational foundations are Canterbury College (for classics, science, engineering, &c.), Christ’s College (mainly theological) and grammar school, and a school of art. There is a Roman Catholic pro-cathedral attached to a convent of the Sacred Heart. A large extent of open ground, to the west of the town, finely planted, and traversed by the river, comprises Hagley Park, recreation grounds, the Government Domain and the grounds of the Acclimatization Society, with fish-ponds and a small zoological garden. The foundation of Christchurch is connected with the so-called “Canterbury Pilgrims,” who settled in this district in 1850. Lyttelton was the original settlement, but Christchurch came into existence in 1851, and is thus the latest of the settlements of the colony. It became a municipality in 1862. In 1903 several populous suburban boroughs were amalgamated with the city.