QUEENS QUAY IS BEING TURNED INTO A SPLENDID WATERFRONT GATEWAY BY WATERFRONT TORONTO

Photo: Nicola Betts It seems everyone wants to live in or visit TORONTO’s central waterfront. Space is at a premium, with multiple condos rising on the north side and a network of parks, promenades and cultural centres on the south. Queens Quay Boulevard is a 3.5 kilometre spine between the two.

WATERFRONT8      Over the last five years WATERFRONT TORONTO has been reconstructing Queens Quay, balancing the needs of residents, businesses, recreation and thousands of visitors. The goal is to turn the once dowdy street into a linear park, connecting wavedecks, theatres, a ferry terminal, cafes, bike trails, galleries, parks and gardens, with a streetcar line up the middle.

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10 METRES LONG & WEIGHING 400 TONNES, TWO TUNNEL BORERS NAMED ‘DENNIS’ & ‘LEA’ SURFACE

DENNIS1A couple of hundred transit buffs turned up to watch two tunnel boring machines being hoisted out of their 30-metre-deep shaft and brought up to street level. The events took place early Saturday and Sunday on Eglinton Avenue West at Allen Road.  The tunnel borers – ‘Dennis & Lea’ (for Mount Dennis & Leaside) – were working on the Eglinton-Crosstown lightrail project, and have now been repositioned for the next phase of construction. Metrolinx served hot chocolate to ward off Saturday’s early morning chill.

FORMIDABLE “FORT BOOK” (THE ROBARTS LIBRARY) MAY BE ABOUT TO SOFTEN ITS IMAGE

ROBARTS1Rising above Harbord Street at St. George, the University of Toronto’s Robarts Library is a perfect example of TORONTO brutalism. Named after former Ontario premier John Robarts, the building opened in 1973 to mixed reviews – many of them negative.  Plans are now afoot to add a 1,200 seat reading room on the Huron Street side of the building. The design, prepared by Diamond Schmitt Architects, features a light glass curtain wall wrapped around the west side, which will allow in 4 storeys of afternoon sunlight. The Robarts Common will be connected to the main library by a four-storey bridge. An extensive green roof is included in the project plan filed with the City of TORONTO.

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TORONTO’S LIBERTY VILLAGE – A ‘TAMED AND GENTRIFIED’ POST-INDUSTRIAL NEIGHBOURHOOD

LIBERTY19LIBERTY VILLAGE (King Street West to the Gardiner Expressway: Strachan Avenue to Dufferin Street) is a neighbourhood with a checkered past.  Formerly the home of Toronto’s Central Prison and the Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women (both now demolished), it was a sprawling campus of heavy industry and, in 1914, a holding area for World War I bomb casings.  <PHOTOS – 1) Toronto Central Prison, 1877  2)  Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women, demolished 1969  3)  Surviving Roman Catholic Chapel, Central Prison  4)  Surviving Superintendent’s house, Mercer Reformatory 5) Piles of World War I bomb casings, City of Toronto Archives>

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LIBERTY VILLAGE (EAST SIDE) IS A RAPIDLY DEVELOPING CONDO ENCLAVE, CLOSE TO DOWNTOWN

LIBERTY21 Liberty Village (east side) is a ‘shining’ (or some would say ‘overbuilt’) example of densification with a sprinkling of shops, coffee bars, pubs, restaurants, a farmer’s market, the MZTV Television Museum and a park. In this neighbourhood the condos and townhouses are really packed in, but there is nightlife close by, public transit (often overloaded), and Lake Ontario, the Financial District and West Queen West arts district are within striking distance.   LIBERTY17LIBERTY23LIBERTY26LIBERTY15<PHOTO ABOVE – the surviving Roman Catholic Chapel and Central Prison, surrounded by condos & townhouses>

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THE ONCE GLAMOUROUS INN ON THE PARK TOWER BITES THE DUST – EGLINTON AVE. EAST AT LESLIE

INN1 Built on farmland not far from the Don Valley Parkway, TORONTO’s Inn on the Park was a first attempt to build a major hotel and resort outside of downtown. Opened in 1963 by Four Seasons Hotels, it was immediately a success, a place to see and be seen, surrounded by 600 acres of parkland.

Created by ImageGear, AccuSoft Corp.But 10 years later the hotel’s decline began, helped along by the opening of Four Seasons Yorkville, a serious fire in 1981, demolition of the original Peter Dickinson hotel, and now the demolition of the tower.

INN3<Demolition of the tower, Inn on the Park, April 14/2015, photo – Bryan Blenkin>