“The city is not a concrete jungle. It’s a human zoo.” – Desmond Morris (We beg to differ.)

From North Bay, Mandy Saile writes:  “I got to go back to the Big Smog (aka TORONTO)…I still oh so love it.  It’s always amazing to me that I, tiny little ‘moi’, lived in that bustling, hustling city for five years.  I truly do feel like it’s where I grew up and really found out what I was made of.  
It still sings to me and though I live in NORTH BAY now, I still consider TORONTO my playground.

MARCUS GEE in today’s Globe and Mail writes:  “The TORONTO of the past was a poor excuse for a big city.  When I was growing up here, the tallest building was the stolid Bank of Commerce, all 34 storeys of it.  Now, the downtown core is a thicket of arresting office and condo towers, and the streets hum with life day and night.”

Daniels SPECTRUM brings arts, culture & youth organizations in from the cold.

<Daniels Spectrum performance space.  PHOTO – Chris Tyler/Wikimedia>  DANIELS SPECTRUM shows what can happen when the City of Toronto, a major developer (Daniels Development Corporation) and an arts umbrella organization (Artscape) put their heads together.  As part of the redevelopment of Regent Park, the Spectrum provides 60,000 square feet of stage, rehearsal, community and tenant space for seven organizations dedicated to the arts, culture, social innovation and youth programming.

SPECTRUM3Tenant groups include the Aki Studio Theatre for Native Earth Performing Arts; two rehearsal rooms for COBA – Collective of Black Artists.  On the second floor: space for the Regent Park School of Music, ArtHeart Community Art Centre, Pathways to Education and the Regent Park Film Festival.  Third floor: the Centre for Social Innovation provides collaborative office space for social and arts entrepreneurs.SPECTRUM5The glass-enclosed café, overlooking a forthcoming 6-acre Regent Park, is a meeting place for the community. Very wide corridors act as a gallery, impromptu performance space and there’s also a public piazza.  Daniels Spectrum is part of a major makeover of the entire neighbourhood now underway.  Architects: Diamond SchmittSPECTRUM7

The 90th Four Seasons hotel opens where it all began . . . in TORONTO

The newest in a world-wide chain of five-star hotels is now open in TORONTO’s trendy Yorkville.  55 storeys above Bay Street at Scollard, the complex features 259 hotel rooms and 210 high-end condos in the principal tower – plus 110 more of them in an adjacent 26-storey structure.  The hotel has commissioned 1,700 paintings, sculptures and designs from a variety of Canadian artists.  There’s a 30,000 square foot spa, and a restaurant – the Cafe Boulud – which doubtless will become a place to see and be seen.  The Four Seasons Toronto is the latest in a series of five-star establishments which have opened in our city.  The others: the Ritz-Carlton, Trump International, the Shangri-La, the Thompson and the Hazelton in Yorkville.

Andrew Weir, vice-president of communications for Tourism Toronto: “The Five-star boom has helped change the way people think about Toronto.  “It’s bringing more business and convention travel, but it’s also attracting a higher end sophisticated leisure traveller who is not driving across the border because shopping is 60 cents on the dollar.”“They are flying here and staying longer and spending more money because they are seeing Toronto as one of the great urban experiences in North America.”  The penthouse of this hotel sold for a record-breaking $28 million to an international buyer some time ago, and its pre-construction condominiums set a record at $1200 per square foot.  Hotel suites: $400 and up per night.<View from the Four Seasons penthouse, Craig White/http://urbantoronto.ca>

A yellow brick beauty is revealed . . . the Dineen Building, 140 Yonge Street.

After removing layers of grime and dirt, an obscure yellow brick building on lower Yonge Street has emerged as a Financial District mini-masterpiece.  The Dineen Building, 140 Yonge at Temperance, was built in 1897 for a prominent hat and fur manufacturer.  The architect: F. H. Herbert (1865-1914), designed many of TORONTO’s finest homes in the Annex, Rosedale and Parkdale.

Pocket parks are popping up all over town

TORONTO has discovered ‘pocket parks’.  Traffic islands and unused vacant wedges are being planted and – best of all – maintained.  PHOTOS – maple trees on a traffic island, Richmond Street East & Jarvis; Glenn Gould Place, a park-within-a-park, King Street West at John; an autumn garden, University Avenue & Front; and Dundee Place, Richmond at Yonge Street.  There are countless others.