ANGEL'SFLIGHT5LOS ANGELES is a big city filled with big attractions and more than its share of big people doing big things.  But for me – the little things matter more.  Here are three of my favourites.  ANGEL’S FLIGHT <PHOTO ABOVE, 1969, by photographer JULIUS SHULMAN> is an electric cable railway which runs from Downtown LA to the top of Bunker Hill.  The ride takes about 2 minutes and costs 50 cents each way.  If you like, climb up the Hill via a stairway of 123 steps and 10 ramps.  During the Great Depression, Bunker Hill was home to many poor families who lived in once-elegant Victorian mansions – then degenerated into boarding houses – overlooking the city.  Today, it’s the Financial District.

MILLARD SHEETS, a California painter, was fascinated by the Bunker Hill neighbourhood.  Two of his paintings, ‘Angel’s Flight, 1931’, and ‘Tenement Flats, 1933-34’ are shown below.Another little attraction in LA is located at 709 LaBrea Boulevard.  This is PINK’S HOT DOG STAND, founded by Paul Pink.  It began as a hot dog wagon in 1939, was upgraded in 1946 – and ever since has drawn lineups of locals and tourists until the wee hours.

The world famous HOLLYWOOD SIGN isn’t the original, built for $21,000, and demolished.  Today’s steel-lettered sign was erected in 1978.  The original had a notorious past, when former Broadway star PEG ENTWHISTLE (photo below), climbed up, and jumped to her death from the letter ‘H’ in 1932.  Her parting words in a suicide note: “I am afraid, I am a coward. I am sorry for everything. If I had done this a long time ago, it would have saved a lot of pain. P.E.”


A – Art Gallery of Ontario, Annex, Animal Farm, Atwood (Margaret)
B – Blue Jays, Beaches, Bluffs, Bridle Path, boys choirs, Barenaked Ladies, Bulger Gallery
C – CBC, COC, CNE, Cabbagetown, Cinecycle, carillons, Cameron House
D – Distillery District, Design Centre, dollhouse makers, downtown drive-in, drag artists
E – El Mocambo, Eaton Centre, Elmer Iseler Singers
F – Ferries, Fleck Dance Theatre, 401 Richmond, farmer’s mkts, Four Seasons, festivals
G – Ghost signs, ghost tours, Gladstone, GO, Galleria, Greektown, Globe & MailALPHABETCITY1H – Hyatt Rooftop Bar, Hanlan’s Point, Horseshoe, H2O Park, Honest Ed’s
I – Ice rinks (x50), IMAX (x5), Islands, independent bookshops & coffee bars
J – Junction, jobbers, Joso’s
K – Kensington Market, Koerner Hall
L – Luminato, Lightbox, Leslieville, Lightfoot (Gordon)
M – Massey Hall, Martin Goodman Trail, MOCCA, Music Garden, marathon (x2)
N – National Ballet, National Ballet School, Neville Park pumping station, NOW
O – Osgoode Hall, Opera House, OCADU, Ossington, Old Don Jail
P – Porter Air, Polkaroo, pandas, PATH, Propeller, Polson Pier
Q – ‘Q’ with Jian Gomeshi, Queen’s Park, quicksand (Wychwood Park)
R – Ravines, Rush Lane, Rex, Royal Alex, Revue, ROM, roller girls, rep cinemas (x9)
S – Streetcars, Senator, Silver Snail, Spit, Sugar Beach, small publishers, Spadina, Spacing
T – TIFF, Thomson Collection, Tafelmusik, Type bookshop, Trinity College, transit pass, TSO
U – Union Station, unicyclists, Upper Canada College, Underpass Park
V – Victorian architecture, viaducts, Victoria College
W – West Queen West, Winter Garden, Winchester Dance Theatre, Wicked
X – Xtra (best LGBTQ weekly in the land)
Y – Ydessa Hendeles, Yorkville, Young People’s Theatre, Young Centre
Z –  Zoomer radio AM740, Znaimer (Moses), Zoo, Zhang Huan sculpture


On JUNE 26, 1913, the cornerstone was dedicated for one of TORONTO’s most successful efforts to provide better housing for working people.  The new Spruce Court Apartments, Spruce Street at Sumach, were so popular they were occupied ASAP, and a lengthy waiting list began.  Hardwood floors, solid millwork, heavy doors with brass fittings, double-hung multi-paned windows, and stone sills – Spruce Court was built to last.  And to this day, it’s one of the most successful co-ops in the city.  Supervising architect: Birmingham native EDEN SMITH (1858-1949)

PHOTO BELOW – Spruce Court dining room ca1913/City of Toronto Archives


Awaiting restoration high above King Street East, the KING EDWARD HOTEL’S CRYSTAL BALLROOM was once-upon-a-time the place to see and be seen.  Named for its crystal chandeliers, this room with wrap-around views, was the pride of TORONTO’s first skyscraper hotel.The original low-rise hotel was built in 1903.  The highrise addition was added in 1921.  The King Edward was the largest Canadian hotel until the Royal York arrived on the scene in 1929.  PHOTOS – http://www.kingeddyhotel.wordpress.com  & PatriciaF/mytraveltimes/tumblr

KINGEDWARD3<PHOTO ABOVE – The Crystal Ballroom after a complete renovation, 2018>


SKATING1TORONTO’s principal square is named after NATHAN PHILLIPS, mayor of all the people from 1955-62.  The Square and New City Hall opened in 1965.  The architect: Finland’s VILJO REVELL.

NEWCITYHALL6NEWCITYHALL5And now, $40-50 million later, NATHAN PHILLIPS SQUARE looks the way the architect intended: a wide open space with plenty of room for a farmer’s market, concerts, ice skating, public events of every description, demonstrations, New Year’s Eve celebrations, and the annual Festival of Lights.  There are more fountains, a large permanent stage, new snack bar and skate rental building.  100 Queen Street West at Bay.


Frank William Micklethwaite (1849-1925) & turn-of-the-century TORONTO

The legacy of FRANK WILLIAM MICKLETHWAITE is a huge collection of photographs portraying turn-of-the-century TORONTO and Ontario.  These unique images are more than ‘photographs of record’.  They make our city’s early streetscapes and architecture come alive.Born in Lancashire, England, he moved first to Ireland <PHOTO above – the family’s photography wagon, Ireland>, and then to Canada in 1875.  After three years of proofreading at the Globe, Micklethwaite opened a commercial photography business in downtown TORONTO.  Specializing in outside views and landscapes, as well as architectural images, he became one of this city’s best known photographers.  Many of F.W. Micklethwaite’s photographs are held by the Library and Archives of Canada and the City of Toronto Archives.  He died on December 5, 1925, and was buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery next to his wife, Ruth.

MICKLETHWAITE3MICKLETHWAITE6MICKLETHWAITE4MICKLETHWAITE2PHOTOS ABOVE1) Road and sidewalk repairs, Adelaide Street;  2) corner of Front and Yonge Streets;  3) corner of Church and King Street East;  4) the Micklethwaite studio above John Wanless Company


TORONTO’s Belt Line Railway encircled a much smaller city when it opened to passenger traffic in 1892.  Its purpose: to transport people and freight between the new suburbs – Forest Hill, Rosedale, Moore Park and Chaplin Estates – and the city’s downtown core.  Unfortunately, the suburban real estate boom ended after only two years, and some of the railways’s inclines were too steep for freight trains.  Thus, the rails were torn up and shipped to France during the Great War of 1914-18.The City of TORONTO bought the roadbed from CN Rail in 1990, and Councillor Kay Gardner became a driving force to convert the land into a 4.5 kilometre long park and hiking trail from Mount Pleasant Cemetery and the Davisville subway train yards, westward through some of the city’s poshest neighbourhoods.  Subway stop: DAVISVILLE and a short walk south; PHOTOS – winter http://www.ronforeman.com – summer http://www.yongeandrichstreet.com


Giant Pandas, ER SHUN (6 years old) and DA MAO (5 years old), went on display for the first time today, Saturday, May 18.  They did what they do best – eat bamboo and look cute, cute, cute.  <PHOTOS BELOW – DA MAO top, and ER SHUN below>

GETTING TO THE ZOO – TORONTO’s Zoo is located in the East End of the city in the rolling hills of the Rouge Valley.  By car from downtown, take the 401 Eastbound to Exit 389, Meadowvale Road.  Follow the Zoo signs to 361A Old Finch Avenue.  Large parking lot.  By PUBLIC TRANSIT – take the subway (Sheppard Line) to DON MILLS STATION.  Bus #85 leaves from here, and will drop you in front of the Zoo entrance about 45 minutes later.  Along the way, you’ll pass through suburban Don Mills and Scarborough.


RIVERBOAT1YORKVILLE was the epi-centre of TORONTO’s youth and hippie culture back in the sixties.  And the RIVERBOAT COFFEE HOUSE was the epi-centre of Yorkville.  All that remains of this famous establishment is a plaque in front of a new five-star hotel.  Some of the biggest names in music – Canadian and otherwise – played at the Riverboat: Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Bruce Cockburn, Murray McLauchlan, Dan Hill and Neil Young, among others.

RIVERBOAT2The cafe is immoralized in ‘Ambulance Blues’ by NEIL YOUNG, shown below in 1965 performing at the RIVERBOAT.  <PHOTO – Manfred Buchheit>Back in the old folky days
The air was magic when we played.
The Riverboat was rockin’
in the rain
Midnight was the time
for the raid.Oh, Isabela, proud Isabela,
They tore you down and
plowed you under.
You’re only real
with your make-up on
How could I see you
and stay too long?