Shale Chambers, Chair Waitemata Local Board

31 August 2011
Patient locals have waited over a year  for the rebuilding and  re-opening of Jacob’s Ladder – that wonderful  conection between the  heights of St Mary’s Bay and the western edge of  the route into Viaduct  and Harbour areas of Auckland City.   The  old wooden stairs have been well used by commuters walking to and from work in the  City Centre and by runners and walkers – but there is also a lot of history behind them.
Jacob's LadderPictured are Board Member Pippa Coom, Shale Chambers and Jacinda Ardern, MP at the foot of the new stairs.
For  nearly 140 years Jacobs Ladder has been the wooden steps that connected  Western Bays to our harbour foreshore and later Victoria Park.  They were built in 1852 and were once the most direct route between Ponsonby and wharves in St Marys Bay.  Jacobs  Ladder would have been a route a lot quicker that the either walking or  riding in horse-drawn carriages down the main roads to the ferries.  During  the last century, Jacobs Ladder  was the main accessway to  HMNZS Ngapona, base of the Navel  Volunteer Reserve Unit until 2007.
When I stand here today I can visualize the landscape of 1852 with no bridges or motorways or cars.  A  few houses and commercial buildings dotted about and possibly sailing  ships in the harbour, and certainly a lot more trees that we can see  today.  However the views of our  wonderful natural harbours, and volcanoes and mountains are the very  same views that bought settlers here to these suburbs.
Fast  forward nearly 140 years to today and the new Jacobs Ladder  will once again be used by recreational runners and commuters to the new  businesses that have opened up already in the Wynyard Quarter and new  businesses and apartments that will quickly follow over the next ten  years. A parking time restriction trial is in place in St Mary’s Bay to  manage locals’ priority to the all day use of their access and  residential roads as a consequence.
In  former years as today there are still many walkers who enjoy the climb  down the cliffs, although the climb up is a different story.
This  new ladder is made of sturdier and more durable materials than the wood  it replaced although some would say not quite as environmentally  friendly.  The newly designed  bridge that will soon open will be a real added asset both visually and  practically and makes doubly certain that our communities’ connectedness  is retained and enhanced.
Many  thanks must go to NZTA for this community project, its planning,  execution and funding. Thanks also to Council staff and planners who  have assisted with the project throughout and to the work of the St Marys Bay Association over a long time. . A final thanks also goes to  those patient locals who have waited over a year for this reconnection.  You can now walk from the bottom of the steps through to Beaumont St (just as before the rebuilding).
On behalf of the Waitmeata Local Board and Auckland Council we welcome the re-opening of Jacobs Ladder and the beginnings of the bridge and the walkway back to Pt Erin, below.
Contact:  Shale Chambers, shale.chambers@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz, 027 476 5284
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