TIFFANY’s new flagship store is open for business

TIFFANY9     HOLLY GOLIGHTLY (aka Audrey Hepburn) would no doubt approve.  TORONTO’s spectacular Tiffany Flagship Store has opened at 150 Bloor Street West.

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The hoardings have come down, and – after three years of planning and construction – the 5,000 square foot, two storey luxury store is open for business.  By the end of 2013, there’ll be three stores in TORONTO, two in Vancouver, and one each in Calgary, Edmonton and Montreal.

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WENDY EAGAN, group vice-president of TIFFANY Canada: “TORONTO is an extremely important market to us, and we are very proud of this new store. This shop is our crown jewel in Canada.”

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‘SEX BOXES’ – A NEW KIND OF DRIVE-IN OPENS IN ZURICH, SWITZERLAND

SEXBOX1 It’s a brothel with a minimal interior.  The progressive Swiss have opened a number of wooden ‘Sex Boxes’ in the ZURICH suburb of ALTSTETTEN.  Taking a cue from the Germans and the Dutch, the doorless structures come equipped with neon lights, posters promoting condom use, and panic buttons for the workers to guard against unwanted funny business.

The Sex Box allows clients to drive through a park full of dozens of workers between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. to negotiate prices, then pull into a stall to complete the transaction.  <PHOTO – Steffen Schmit courtesy AP>

The Tower Automotive Building, 158 Sterling Road, is a piece of TORONTO’s industrial past

The Tower Automotive Building in TORONTO’s west end is the tallest structure for several kilometres around.  And it’s empty – a remnant of our city’s industrial past, near the crossover of the Carlton and Dundas streetcar lines.

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Built in 1920, the structure had a long history making aluminum, sheet-casting and automotive parts. In 2005 it was designated a heritage site and then shortly thereafter, closed.  It stands abandoned, occasionally accessed by graffiti artists, photographers and urban explorers.  PHOTOS BELOW – Vic Gedris, http://www.junctiontriangle.ca

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TORONTO’S NEW AQUARIUM: 1.5 million gallons of water and thousands of fish

Our city now has a new star attraction.  RIPLEY’S AQUARIUM OF CANADA, one of the largest in North America, opened its doors in September/2013.  Home to 13,500 inhabitants and 450 species, the Aquarium features a 315 foot moving walkway under the Shark Lagoon occupied by sand tiger sharks, largetooth sawfish, and dozens of fellow sea creatures.  None were captured in the wild.

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The $130 million complex, designed by B and H Architects, is open 365 days of the year.  Exhibits include a tropical reef tank, Great Lakes exhibits, and Atlantic and Pacific Habitats.  The Aquarium is located at the base of the CN Tower.

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DON MOUNT COURT HAS A BRIGHT FUTURE AS RIVERTOWNE

For several years now, TORONTO has been remaking its downtown social housing.  The revitalization of REGENT PARK  is well underway, and DON MOUNT COURT (renamed RIVERTOWNE) is a fait accompli.  Located east of the Don River south of Dundas Street East, the neighbourhood mixes private and public housing in a complex of rowhouses and a four-storey apartment building.  In the middle – a large park and playground; around the perimeter, the many shops and attractions of Queen Street East.

As in REGENT PARK, the street grid has been re-opened as well.

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<PHOTO BELOW> – the former Don Mount Court buildings looked relatively good on the outside, but they were poorly constructed and the walls were filled with asbestos.

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Car-free ‘pedestrian Sundays’ in Kensington Market. Two more this year!

There’s no better way to meet the people, than by spending a day in KENSINGTON MARKET on one of its car-free pedestrian Sundays.  There are two more this year: September 29 and October27.  Come out and see what a diverse and creative city we have here.

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Shuffling off to a re-energized BUFFALO

It’s great when you see a city re-creating itself in all the right ways.  BUFFALO, New York, 85 miles down the Queen Elizabeth Way from TORONTO is doing some good stuff – installing a network of bicycle paths, opening new downtown hotels, rebuilding its waterfront, reincarnating warehouses and at least one fine old hotel, and giving diners and culture vultures plenty to keep them busy.  BUFFALO, a former industrial giant that fell on several decades of hard times, is getting back on its feet again.

Torontonians are rediscovering BUFFALO.  TORONTO architects YOUNG AND WRIGHT obviously see value in the city.  Their office is in a Larkin Square heritage building, and their signs appear on several old buildings downtown.

These days, the city offers much more than chicken wings and the Buffalo Bills.

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<ABOVE> The extensive Olmsted Park system and the Parkside neighbourhood.  Frederick Law Olmsted also designed Central Park in New York City.

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<ABOVE> Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House, 125 Jewett Parkway.  There are four Frank Lloyd Wright houses in Buffalo.  This one is open for tours.  Advice: book in advance.

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<ABOVE> the restored Layfayette Hotel and inside – Mike A’s art deco bar and restaurant.

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<ABOVE> Shea’s Buffalo Theatre.  For a city the size of BUFFALO, there are numerous theatre companies and venues.  This one is the grandest.

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“Sweet Dreams, Baby!  Life of Pop, London to Warhol” is this season’s big show at the Albright-Knox Gallery on Elmwood Avenue,  The Gallery has one of the most extensive collections of American contemporary art anywhere.

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<ABOVE> – renovated warehouses adjacent to LARKIN SQUARE; grain elevator in SILO CITY; art deco CITY HALL, downtown

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BUFFALO is an architectural delight – with mansions galore, painted ladies (wooden houses painted in bright colours) in Allentown and Elmwood Village.  <ABOVE> – a former daguerreotype studio on Chippewa Street at Ellicott.  Chippewa Street, formerly a den of dive bars, is being gentrified.

Some excellent restaurants in BUFFALO – Rue Franklin, 341 Franklin Street, downtown; Sea Bar, 475 Ellicott Street, downtown; Hutch’s, 1375 Delaware Avenue off Gates Circle; Betty’s, 370 Virginia Street in Allentown; and Coles, Elmwood Village.