I have done my city a disservice, comparing its architecture unfavourably to others.

April 9th, 2014, 1pm

In the summer of 2010, I went to Chicago for the first time. I was there for WorldCon/ChiCon7 thanks to a cheap flight out of Billy Bishop and splitting the hotel room cost with two friends. The con itself was largely indoors, but on the last day, as everyone was leaving, I escaped into the city just to walk around and gawk at the architecture1.

But as I walked and took photos (and wished I had a better camera with me), I kept thinking, “wow, Toronto has nothing like this.”

The header picture here proves how wrong I was.

In my defense, I was living in a different neighbourhood at the time. One that stood at a complicated crossroads between new build condo towers driving gentrification, the largest high-rise residential community in Canada, and the remains of a late 1800s residential block where the former Victorian homes have been sub-divided into community housing apartments. I loved walking that neighbourhood, but it wasn’t representative of downtown in the way I was making the comparison.

Late last summer, I moved down-downtown and started commuting across Queen and King Streets. There were days I could have walked faster than the streetcar’s pace, but riding the streetcar gave me a different perspective. The thing about Toronto’s downtown is that a lot of the street level views are boring, retail, or the facades of older buildings. It’s only when you look up that you start to see the classics sandwiched in between all the new growth.

Like the picture above, Toronto is a city of layers: wood and brick, concrete and steel and glass. From the right angle, there’s lots to love.

  1. Two things I always do when I visit a new city: walk the closest “downtown” area, and ride public transit. Both are part of daily life in Toronto but sometimes earn me funny looks in other places. 

David Wade, Anne Marie and Christine said thanks.

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Shay Darrach

Fictionalizing life for 30-odd years.

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