The North End Halifax neighbourhood of Richmond bore the brunt of the explosion. In 1917, Richmond was considered a working-class neighbourhood and had few paved roads. After the explosion, the Halifax Relief Commission approached the reconstruction of Richmond as an opportunity to improve and modernize the city's North End. English town planner Thomas Adams and Montreal architectural firm Ross and Macdonald were recruited to design a new housing plan for Richmond. Adams, inspired by the Victorian garden city movement, aimed to provide public access to green spaces and to create a low-rise, low-density and multifunctional urban neighbourhood. The planners designed 326 large homes that each faced a tree-lined, paved boulevard. They specified that the homes be built with a new and innovative fireproof material, blocks of compressed cement called Hydrostone. The first of these homes was occupied by March 1919. Once finished, the Hydrostone neighbourhood consisted of homes, businesses and parks, which helped create a new sense of community in the North End of Halifax. It has now become an upscale neighbourhood and shopping district. In contrast, the equally poor and underdeveloped area of Africville was not included in reconstruction efforts.