Archive for the ‘stores’ Category

I like the camera part but I’m willing to prove the “no fun” part wrong.  The other day I went meandering with a friend.  We started near Christie station (at a coffee shop of course) with no particular destination in mind.  Generally south was the consensus… and with a pinch of playfulness (forget that no fun nonsense!) and a dash of distraction that’s more or less what we did.

sticker on a yellow pole, camera with legs and arms, also a sticker below it that says no fun

below: As you may know, Bloor Street east of Christie is Koreatown with lots of Korean restauants and tea shops.

below: … including cheese tea.  This seems to be a new trend, or at least new to me!  Apparently it is black or green tea with a foamy topping made from cream cheese, sugar, and whipping cream (or variations thereof).  Next time I may indulge.

below: “Imagine your Korea” mural on the side of P.A.T. Central, a large Korean store.

below: A fire breathing dragon and many scared people trying to run away. It’s a pity about the garbage though.

large mural on the side of abuilding, a large green dragon is breathing fire and scaring people out of their homes and stores and into the streets,

below: By Bathurst street the Korean restaurants have disappeared.  Once upon a time (it seems so long ago!) Honest Ed’s dominated the SW corner of Bloor and Bathurst.  Now there is just hole there, and a very big hole at that.

below: This picture is just a small part of “Utopic Isles, Neon Nights, a Flowery Future”, which consists of three panels of images by grade 11 and 12 visual arts students from Central Tech high school.  They are part of the hoardings around the construction site here.

picture on construction hoardings on Bloor St near Bathurst, an owl in a tree, a cat sitting below the tree, trees are weird shapes

below: Another section of hoardings feature collages of old pictures of Honest Eds – a project by Jessica Thalmann called “To Dwell is to Leave Traces”

hoardings on Bloor Street near Bathurst, a series of collages featuring old pictures of Honest Eds and the area, in many colours, by Jessica Thalmann

below: To try gluing pictures on hoardings is also to leave traces!  Its’ another “no fun” find.   All rather cool until you learn that no fun is a branding thingy.  Stickers as promos for businesses are now very common, posters like this on, not so much.

two posters that were glued to construction hoardings but that have been largely torn off

below: Construction makes room for the two buildings on Bathurst that refused to sell to the developers.  You can still see the ghost sign on one of the buildings – baby carriages repaired

below: Looking west from Bathurst Street across the big hole to the backs of the houses on Markham Street that are empty and boarded up.  Some of them will be retained in the new development.

below: A concrete lovebot hides in the corner.  He’s missing an arm and has three bricks instead of a leg.

an old concrete lovebot with an arm and a leg missing. on two bricks instead of the leg, in a pile of leaves, beside a rust coloured wall

below: Near lovebot is another ghost sign – Coca Cola, sold everywhere (Bathurst Street)

large ghost sign on a brick wall, coca cola sold everywhere, Bathurst Street

below: This frog has four points on his crown and lips made of plaster.   Looks like he’s found a home on top of the garbage pin.

below: ‘Keep hustlin!”  Don’t linger and watch out for cars.  I was going to make some comment about Toronto becoming increasingly dangerous for pedestrians but I decided that I needed some documentation to back me up.  I learned the acronym KSI (killed or seriously injured).  Toronto has the research on the KSI stats for 2005-2018 as part of their Vision Zero plan and the results are “mixed”, i.e. the trend isn’t upwards.  In fact, I don’t think there is a trend of any sort.

below: [Can we stand two social issues in a row?  LOL.]  What I didn’t realize was there was a “worldwide “Nobody Pays” call to action on November 29 for fare evasions” (source).  Chile in the poster is a reference to Chilean high school students protesting transit fare increases with a series of mass evasions starting on the 7th of October.    I don’t recommend burning your Presto card just yet.

below: The very small print at the bottom of the poster gives references to two documents (from 2012 and 2014) that outline the funding of the TTC and where the money comes from.

below: Well it is December after all…..

Christmas decorations in a store window, little tree ornaments of Santa, one with him holding onto a little parachute and one with him on a bike

below: Well it is December after all…..

a sticker of a black faceless man in grey suit, black tie, and black gloves, with arms raised with two hands in peace symbol, words that say destruction, despair, death

blue outline simple drawing of a persons head and shoulders

looking down a path between houses, green chainlink fence with sagging wood fence immediately behind it

below: Conversation on a garage door.

a garage door with the words, are you happy?

a car parked in a backyard of a house that has been gutted and is now being rebuilt

empty backyard of an older two storey building, with brick buildings on either side of it, seen from the laneway

an old car is parked under a tree and beside a house with graffiti on it

below: Sometimes Mother Nature endures.  There was no stopping this tree and it seems to have thrived even with the metal of the fence embedded in it.

a tree has grown up around a chainlink fence so the fence is embedded in the tree

below: The omnipotent metal fence strikes again.  This time flamingos in love and an Al Runt mural are in danger.

chain link construction fence in front of a mural of dancing pink flamingoes

below: Continuation of the mural by Al Runt around the corner of the building

part of a mural by al runt on a wall and on a metal fence

below: This mural has suffered a different fate, that of the creeping billboard posters.  As much fun as “procaffeinating” is fun to read about, I’ve seen more than enough of them around the city.  I’m not sure that it was someone’s sense of humour that resulted in Holt Renfrew posters being displayed beside those for  Pathways to Education that play on poverty and lack of education.

poster put up on a wall covering a mural that was there

below: But….  [one day I will do a post where only the words in the photos do the talking.  There are some great stories out there]

below: I especially like this one, Just Keep Going.

below: A white horse in an alley

splotch of white spray paint on a rusty part of a garage in a laneway looks a bit like a horse

below: As well as two little astronauts.

green garage door with a white square, on the square are two black stencils of an astronaut

below: Blood and bandages barber shop. Wonderful name!

blood and bandages barber shop from the outside, lights in window, bike parked outside

When you walk across College Street in this area you can’t help but notice that you’re in Little Italy.

below: As we walked westward along College Street, we saw three of these blue areas painted on the NW corners (of Roxton, Ossington & Dovercourt)

part of a lower storey of a building, as well as part of the sidewalk directly in front of it, are painted bright light blue

These are the Blue Room, by Stanislav Jurkovic and they were supported by the College Promenade BIA.   From the website: “Similar to a 3 dimensional ‘green screen’ in film production, the space becomes stage and canvas.”  It has also won a Toronto Urban Design Award.   Some photos that people have taken of these spaces can be seen on instagram by searching on #blueroomcollege (although the same photos are fed to the Blue Room website that I linked to in the first sentence).

two people waiting in a TTC bus shelter, part of a lower storey of a building, as well as part of the sidewlk directly in front ot it, are painted bright light blue

below:  In the entrance way to a store that sells a lot of things including DVD’s in Little Italy.  The 4 moschettieri – the 4 muskateers! A film from 1962 with Georges Riviere as d’Artagnan (the wonder of Google!).  At the bottom of the photo is the name Salvatore Samperi; I am not sure which film it is for but Samperi  (1943-2009) was an Italian film director & writer.   I find it intriguing that these old posters are still on this wall, torn and discoloured as they are.

wall in a doorway with old posters for Italian movies, some on top of others

below: Same store.  Italian movies on DVD’s for sale.  ‘Maruzzella’ (in English, ‘The Mermaid of Naples’) came out in 1956.  If you are an aficionado of old Italian movies, be quick, as I think this store is having a going out of business sale.

old Italian movies on DVD for sale in a store window

I’ll leave you with an image that I found online, a full copy of the poster that is partially covered up above – for the R rated film Malicious/Malizia in 1973. (photo source)  That’s 40+ years ago.  You see, when you start wandering you start finding all kinds of strange and fascinating things – no fun? indeed not.

copy of an old film poster for the Italian film malizia from the 1970s

 

A grey day. The kind of day that when it starts to rain you head to a subway station, only to have the rain stop before you get there. So you walk more. Then it rains again so you buy an umbrella and minutes later the rain stops. So you walk more.

below: Southwest corner of Yonge & Wellesley

a shoe store, a massage parlour, and a convenience store, on the southwest corner of Yonge & wellesley, old brick buildings on Yonge with newer taller condos behind

below: Northwest corner of Yonge & Wellesley

northwest corner of Yonge & wellesley, old brick buildings on Yonge with newer taller condos behind - Not Just noodles restaurant

below: Marks left behind, traces of lives once lived there.

on the side of a brick house, two storey, Victorian, the remains of marks left behind on a house that was demolished, new development going up beside it

below: Do you think that there will ever be a time when we can walk downtown without encountering construction zones?

two orange signs saying sidewalk closed, and arrows, barriers on street to form a passage for pedestrians on the street, two people walking by

below: If it’s a gaggle of geese or a parliament of owls, what’s a group of cement trucks?

five or six cement trucks parked on a side street

reflections in glass windows downtown

a sign stenciled beside a doorway that says Anything can b iced. Window beside it, with a woman sitting inside by the window

below: A new large mural by birdo at Dundas & McCaul

Dundas street, near McCaul, coffee shop and artist supply store, with a large mural by birdo above it

below: Same mural, different angle

the corner of Dundas and McCaul with a large mural by birdo looking over it

below: “Keep going” at the Children’s Healing Garden outside Sick Kids Hospital on University Avenue.

chalk writing on a low concrete wall in a small park that says keep going

below: You can do anything

chalk words on a concrete path in a park that say you can do anything

below: A large hole on University Ave

construction site, hole in the ground, a digger in the hole, one wall of the hole is a light orange colour. The Duke of Cornwall pub is on the other side of the street across from the hole

below:  There was a Dragon Festival at Nathan Phillips Square this past weekend.

arches over the pool at Nathan Phillips square with old city hall behind, and a red and gold dragon head (very large) on display for dragon festival

below: Friday was a rather quiet day at the festival, probably because of the weather.

large and colourful inflatable dragon in front of city hall, at Nathan Phillips square, for dragon festival
below: But there was lots of different food available including skewers of octopus

pieces of octopus on skewers, ready to cook

below:   There were also these fried potato spirals on sticks that are available at every festival and street function.

potato spirals, fried and on sticks, looking a pilie of them from the end

below: Hot dog vendor on Queen Street

hot dog and sausage vendor on Queen street, woman under umbrella buying something, woman working inside the booth, a man sitting behind, many signs advertising their food

view down a lane with large buildings on both sides

below: Snowmen?  This is “Born and Raised” designed by Studio How-to-See.

sculptures on sidewalk, snowmen, beside a new condo, one snowman has lost its head

below: The tallest snowman is 5 “snowballs” high, or 17 feet tall.    Oh no! The snowman in the middle has lost its head.  What would Olaf say?

tall snowman sculpture on sidewalk beside glass and steel condo, with people walking past

below:  Of course early September means TIFF.  King Street West closed and many people were walking or hanging out there trying their hand at celebrity spotting.  We are all groupies during TIFF.

two young people working in a red booth for bubly drinks, both smiling and one is giving a thumbs up

below: I wouldn’t know a famous actor or director, or anything like that, if they came up to talk to me.    My attempts to follow the crowd to get celebrity pics weren’t very successful. This is the kind of photo that I ended up with –  The eye belongs someone called Jason who is taking a selfie with a father and daughter.    I didn’t linger long on King Street.

someone is talking a selfie with a girl in a green jacket who is being held up by her father, a pro photographer is also taking their picture

below: Having King Street closed didn’t help the traffic on nearby streets.  Mind you, this is normal for Toronto especially around rush hour.  Stand at any intersection downtown and you’ll find many instances where cars block traffic when the traffic lights change.

a man walks his bike across the street, between cars who are blocking traffic, also a woman with an umbrella gets ready to start across the street too

below:  The driver knew I was there taking pictures.  It didn’t make much difference.

a woman crosses the street on a green light, traffic is jammed because a car has got stuck in the intersection on a red light

a young black woman with pink dreadlocks and a lot of rings on her fingers is on her phone as she passes by, in the background is a couple standing on the sidewalk having a conversation, the woman is holding a bouquet of flowers

below: Paste ups on Richmond Street.   I find these mesmerizing.  I love the positioning of the eye and the way that it is staring at you .

2 paper paste ups on a wall, both are the same, in grey tones, the lower part of a face with one eye beside it

below: And my last stop that day, a quiet charcoal drawing by Olexander Wlasenko at the Arbozzo Gallery at 410 Richmond Street.

a charcoal drawing of a woman by Olexander Wlasenko on the wall of an art gallery

Now, all that’s left is the pink umbrella that I bought, still unused.

It was a beautiful day on Monday when I visited the “Winter Stations” (scroll down to next blog post), cold but sunny.   I decided to walk north on Woodbine since I haven’t done that for a while.

below: Playing with mirrors while waiting for the washroom at Woodbine Beach because there is only one women’s washroom (why is there only one?)

a mirror shaped like a porthole with a green frame, on a bright blue wall, reflection of another porthole but on an orange wall in the mirror

below: From portholes to demolition holes – I made it as far as Queen and Woodbine where there is a large hole in the ground

at the intersection of Queen and Woodbine, a hole in the ground on the north east corner and a Pizza Pizza restaurant on the south east corner

… because just north of there I discovered alleys and small streets that I don’t remember walking.  Who can resist the allure of a red door?

looking down an alley in winter, two brown tire tracks for the cars, but lots of snow. Fences, trees, and a house on a street at the end with a red front door.

below: I went to Norway

street signs on a post. a one way sign pointing left, a green and white sign that says Norway Ave continues to the right ahead

below: And I passed the North Pole

a lawn decoration in a snow covered front yard, a flat wood snowman with red and white striped hat and scarf and a sign that says north pole

below: I even walked past this No Trespassing sign.  The old cars parked the house behind caught my eye but this was as far as I ventured.

a no trespassing sign on a wire fence, snow covered driveay, two old cars parked in the backyard, beyond the fence

When there is no planned route and you’re only following your nose or sticking to the sunny side of the street, you can run into some surprises.  There were a lot of older houses – here are a few of them:

below: There are still some of these Victorian rowhouses closer to downtown but I wasn’t expecting to find any here.   As it turns out, this was part of the village/town of East Toronto.  In 1888 it was a village with about 800 residents.  It became part of the City of Toronto twenty years later (and with 4200 more people).

two semi houses with gabled roofs and covered porches, from the 1800's. snowy street scene, large trees, winter

As it turns out, one of the streets that I walked on, Lyall Avenue, is a Heritage Conservation District.  The street was surveyed in 1884 and by 1888 a few houses were built on some of the fifty yard lots.  Most of the development occurred between 1909 and 1924.  It was definitely a middle class neighbourhood.   The full report published in 2006 appears on the City of Toronto planning department website.

an upper storey oriel window with curved edges

below: This house stands alone.  A very typical older Toronto house.

a typical old Toronto two storey house with peaked roof, reddish brick, two wondows upstairs, one large window downstairs, white front door with a small roof over the door, lots of yard

below: This tidy well-kept workers cottage can only be accessed from the lane.

a workers cottage that fronts onto a snow covered lane, grey vertical wood paneling on the outside, black roof

below: A white picket fence and wicker furniture waiting for spring.

a white picket fence in the snow, wicker chairs in the yard covered with snow

large two stroey brick houses, winter, street,

All of the above houses were north of Kingston Road where the lots sizes were fairly big.  South of Kingston Road, the houses are narrower and close together. (or joined together).

the backyards and back of houses in a row, winter,

below: This square, substantial sized brick building is on Kingston Road.  Between Woodbine Avenue and Main Street, Kingston Road runs along the crest of a ridge.

large old brick house on Kingston Road, three stories,

below: Newer residential buildings on Kingston Road.

part of three new buildings

below: 1922, looking west along Kingston Road from Main street.  That’s almost 100 years ago, and there were streetcars running here even then.  No cars, just a horse and wagon.

old black and white picture from 1922 of a dirt street with a street car track, hydro poles beside the road and a house

Photo credit: City of Toronto Archives. Found online in a ‘Beach Metro’ article where you’ll find more history of the area.

The next three photos are some of the typical two storey, flat roofed, brick, all in a row, stores and businesses that were built in Toronto in the early 1900’s and later.   If I remember correctly, these were all on Kingston Road.

a storefront trimmed in bright yellow and angled at the corner, intersection of Kingston Rd and Brookside

two stores, old architecture, two storey buildings with apartments on top

Perlux cleaners, old sign painted on side of building, convenience store, mounds of snow by the sidewalk

below: A warm and colourful summer scene painting behind a chainlink fence that surrounds the playground at  Kimberley Junior Public School.

colourful painting behind a chainlink fence in a school yard, winter, snow on the ground around it, picture is of three kids in large yellow hats, playing on green grass

below: Mural at Gerrard and Main.

karate, martial arts mural on a wall

below: The last architecture picture – this building with a turret at Kingston Road.  Here Main Street becomes Southwood Drive.

commercial building with a turret at an intersection

below: Looking north on Main Street from Gerrard.  Here the streetcar turns towards Main subway station.  The bus shelter in the middle of the street is definitely old style – one of the few remaining in the city.  From here Main street is a bridge over the railway tracks.

looking north up Main street from Gerard, streetcar tracks with a bus shelter in the middle of the street. old style bus shelter, Main street then goes up, as a bridge over the train tracks. Highrise apartment building in the background.

below: From the bridge, looking southeast over Danforth GO station. Prior to 1940, this was the location of York Station as well as the Grand Trunk Railway’s main freight yard.  The yard stretched along Gerrard Street and employed several hundred people.   At that time, Gerrard Street was called Lake View Avenue (could you see Lake Ontario from there?).

view from a bridge over railway tracks, Danforth GO station below, houses beyond. covered platforms between two sets of tracks

below: York station in 1890.  It was renamed Danforth in 1922 and demolished in 1974 to make way for the GO station.  The freight yard is to the right.

york railway station in 1890. train is letting off passengers

Photo credit: Toronto Public Library. The picture was found online in an article on Danforth station that appears on the Toronto Railway Historical Association website

 

below: Hanging out on the Danforth

large white sign with green GO logo, Danforth station. a group of pigeons is sitting on top of the sign.

 

But I didn’t hang out for long.  From here to Main Street subway station is only a few steps and that was enough walking.
My writing can be almost erratic as my walking!  I hope that I didn’t lose you along the way.

 

wooden chair outside, against the side of a house, snow on it.

Sort of like window shopping but different….

three grey femail mannequins dressed in pale blue in a store window

below:  Peering through the window at the remains of Yuk Wing cleaners on Gerrard St. East

interior of now closed dry cleaners, looking through the front window of Yuk Wing cleaners, pale green counter, old signs, still remain

below: Sometimes you can’t look in the window – something is in the way!  It wasn’t until I was looking at the picture on my computer that I noticed that the newspaper is in a language that I don’t understand.   I typed the headline to the left of the heart into google translate, “Niemiecka chemia zapanuje nad swiatem” and it told me that the words were Polish and translate to “German chemistry will dominate the world”.  The article is about the purchase of Monsanto by Bayer.

a small red heart is painted on the window of a store that is now empty and newspaper covers the inside of the window.

below: A portion of the black cowboy silhouette remains in the now empty Tortilla Flats restaurant.

looking in the window of an empty restaurant, green and black walls, red bench, bike, top part of a silhouette of a cowboy on the wall

below:  The effects of morning light shining into the Thai Luna restaurant.

looking into the window of the Thai Luna restaurant, sun behind, shadow of the words of the window show up on the maroon coloured bench, black tables

below: More morning sunlight, this time it leaves traces of fried chicken.

looking into the window of a fried chicken restaurant, chair upside down on table, words on the window show up on the floor because of the sunlight coming in the window

below: Strutting in the window with miniature camels

looking in the window and doorway of a womens clothing store in the Eaton Centre, mannequins in the window, saleswoman in the door,

below: Laundry day, with 24 hour surveillance

looking in a laundromat window, people, washing machines,

below: The chicken, and its head, really was that colour.

looking in a restaurant window, meat hanging in a windiw including a rather yellow chicken, some ribs,

below: What little remains.

looking through a window into a large open space, some construction equipment is against the far wall, large door open across the room

in the window of a store, dirty window, brother sewing machine, with small barbie doll standing against it and leaning against a large spool of pink thread

The other day I headed towards Dupont and Dundas West because I heard about a mural that I didn’t recall having seen.  Here it is … and more.

below: The most westerly part of the mural is on the north side of Dundas West where Old Weston Road and Annette Street meet.

mural on a wall beside a busy street

mural with a bird, chicakdee or sparrow beside a large orange tiger lily

mural, large painting of a tiger lily and a sparrow

 

It continues along the side of the railway underpass on Dupont (it’s a confusing tangle of streets here!)

car stopped in traffic under railway bridge, driver is looking at the mural that is painted under the underpass

….and on the stairwell up to the West Toronto Railpath.

part of a mural, a robin and an orange rose, outside, beside a staircase

colourful mural outside beside a staircase, large flowers and leaves including an orange maple leaf

It was a gorgeous day so I walked around a bit more, of course!

below: On Dundas West

street art of a young person writing on the wall with red letters that say it's just a phase

below: A row of houses with wonderful facades.  You don’t many like that anymore! .. at least not on houses.

older two storey row houses with facades that extend above the roof line,

below: These fooled me at first.  Interesting black and white photos looking grubby and worn… with a small McDonalds logo on the bottom right.   The photo on the bottom left also has a few words in small print that give away the fact this is a McDonalds promotion.  I don’t think I’ve seen any like these elsewhere – or have I missed something?

4 large black and white photos of people eating hamburgers, that is actually a mcdonalds ad

below: The large black metal staircase at the end of the footbridge over the tracks at Wallace Ave are gone.  The replacement stairs are dull and bland.  This change was meant to accommodate new development on Wallace.

new stairs at the end of a footbridge over the train tracks at Wallace street in Toronto, beside the West Toronto Railpath

below: Railpath window reflections.

reflections of the sky in a window

below: Also on the West Toronto Railpath, someone has hung this colourful ‘curtain’ on the fence in order to add a splash of colour to a sitting area.  Once upon a time there were more chairs here.  And a table if I remember correctly.

fabric hanging from a rope beside a footpath, large green cylinder stoarge unit behind it.

below: One of two chalkboards installed by crazydames where people have written notes to cyclists imploring them to slow down and use their bells.  I totally agree!  Just before I came upon this, a man on an electric bike came up behind me, silently and fast.

large chalkboard on an orange brick wall with notes to tell cyclists to slow down and ring their bells.

below: This little gnome still stands by the entrance to a convenience store.  This guarden gnome has been here (Bloor West) for a few years.

a small gnome painted on the wall beside a door to a convenience store. The door is open and people are walking past

below: Reduce, reuse, recycle – here the R used is reuse.   Truck and tractor parts and other bits and pieces craftily arranged and put to use on the outside of the Farmhouse Tavern.  It should look better in a couple of months!

planters on an exterior wall, made of truck and tractor parts

below: A fairy in a garden of mushrooms.

a mural of a fairy, woman, with wings, holding something in her hand and looking upwards, in a garden with large mushrooms,

graffiti on a black wall, white bird like head on pick square

One last look at part of that mural!

mural with flowers, shadows in front

part of a mural, large light purple flower with yellow center and dark pink at inner most part of petals

 

Traces left behind, reminders of the past

oldworn sign painted above the door to a store

 

Along Spadina on a cold November day – from King to College.

below: A streetcar passes by, down the middle of the road with young trees growing alongside the tracks.  In the background is an old white brick building  with rounded brown arches over the upper windows that now houses the Furama Cake & Dessert Garden – one of the many restaurants, coffee shops and bakeries along this stretch of Spadina.

a new ttc streetcar on Spadina, down the middle of the street, with young trees growing along side the tracks, old brck building in the background, some cars,

 Construction of Spadina Avenue began in 1815.  It was always a wide street, running between Bloor and Queen.

Spadina, and neighbouring Kensington market, was the center of Jewish life in Toronto in the early 1900’s with synagogues, delis, tailors, a Yiddish theatre, and more.  About 80% of Toronto’s Jews lived in the area.   It was also home to the garment district (also known as the fashion district) with its numerous furriers, clothing factories and warehouses – what we’d probably call sweat shops today.

below: The northeast corner of Dundas and Spadina, June 1930 showing the sign over the door of ‘The Standard’ a Yiddish theatre that opened in 1921.  It was converted into a (mainstream) cinema in 1934 and renamed ‘The Strand’.   Another renaming occurred in 1941 when it became ‘The Victory’.  Twenty years later it became the Victory Burlesque.  The doors closed permanently in 1975.  Photo found on Bygone Theatre website.

vintage black and white phot of the sidewalk and front of Jewish cinema at the corner of Dundas and Spadina in 1930. old cars parked in front,

below: This plaque is on the west side of Spadina, just north of King Street.  It describes the contributions of Benjamin Brown (1890-1974), architect, to the area.

Benjamin Brown, one of Toronto’s first Jewish architects, designed more than 200 buildings throughout his career.  Born in Lithuania, he came to Canada as a child.  Brown graduated from the University of Toronto’s architecture program in 1913.  He was partners with architect Robert McConnell until 1921, when he set up an independent practice.

Commissioned largely by members of Toronto’s Jewish community, Brown’s projects ranged from parking garages and gas stations to apartment houses and factory lofts.   His Tower Building (1927) and Balfour Building (1930) on Spadina Avenue at Adelaide Street formed a gateway to Toronto’s garment district.  Other well known buildings by Brown include the Hermant Building (1929 on Dundas Square, the Primrose Club (1920) and the Beth Jacob Synagogue (1922), the first Toronto synagogue designed by a Jewish architect.  Brown retired in 1955.

toronto historic sites plaque to benjamin brown

Both the Tower Building and the Balfour Building still stand.  The later, pictured on the plaque is on the NE corner of Spadina & Adelaide.  It was named for Arthur J. Balfour, British statesman, the author of the 1917 Balfour Declaration that pledged British support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

below:  This is ‘Uniform Measure/Stack’ by Stephen Cruise and it includes that giant thimble on a stack of buttons,  a few button shaped tree planters, and a tape measure carved into the sidewalk as it goes around the corner (you can see a bit of it at the bottom right of the photo).  This tribute to the garment district, or rag trade if you want to call it that,  dates back to 1997.   A few years ago the tape measure was painted yellow – but not by the artist.  It has since been cleaned up.  Recent sidewalk work has scarred the tape measure but most of it remains intact.

public art on the corner of Richmond and Spadina, giant thimble and giant buttons

below: Another piece of garment district history – an old Singer sewing machine as an ornament above a narrow alley between two buildings.

an old SInger sewing machine sits on a beam that crosses a small alley bewteen two buildings, it's about 8 feet above the street level

In the 1960s and 70s, the Jewish population moved out and the Chinese moved in.  In keeping with the changes that were occurring on Spadina, The Victory was sold in 1975 and subdivided  into shops on the main floor and a Chinese language cinema upstairs, first named the Golden Harvest and then the Mandarin. This cinema closed in 1994.

In the late 60s and early 70s, the city demolished a large section of land to make way for the new city hall.  At that time, Chinatown was centered around Dundas and Elizabeth streets.  Many of the Chinese who were displaced by the construction moved west along Dundas to Spadina.  Although many of the Chinese businesses and residents have moved north to Markham & vicinity, this stretch of Spadina is still considered to be Chinatown.

below: A panda eating bamboo, painted by Murals by Marg with support from Chinatown BIA & StreetARToronto.

mural on a wall of a panda bear sitting on the ground and chewing on bamboo

below: Another Chinese themed mural, with tags unfortunately.

orange bikes parked outside a building that had a mural of a Chinese scene that has been tagged over.

below: This caught my attention – Does it look like fresh ginger?   And no, there was nothing in front of the sign either.  Smile.

box of pineapples for sale outside a Chinese grocery store, the sign by the box says fresh ginger

below: Even on cold days you can buy fruits and vegetables on the sidewalk outside the Chinese grocery stores.

a woman is buying tomatos from a vendor with a large table of tomatoes outside a Chinese grocery store on Spadina, in CHinatown.

below: Feeding the pigeons.

a man is feeding pigeons outside on a cold day. He is wearing a heavy coat and a hat.

below:  This is an old display of CD’s mounted on a wall inside a window of an empty store.  The window is dirty but if you step into the recess of the entrance way, you can see the possibility of reflection, light and colour playing together.   This was actually the first picture that I took when I walked up Spadina the other day.   After I saw this window I started paying closer attention to other empty stores.

design and pattern made with many old CD's mounted on a wall inside the window of an empty store.

There are quite a few empty stores and sections of Spadina are quite grubby looking.  As I mentioned above, many of the Chinese businesses have move on and once again the area is the middle of a change.

below: Someone cared enough to paint this delicate birdcage and ivy scene on the wall.  Doesn’t it make you wonder who did it?  and why?  and what happened to them?

looking through a window into an abandoned and empty store, leaves have blown in and are on the floor.

below: A painted over intercom –  a remnant of the past.  But the plywood that the intercom was mounted on is partially torn away to reveal an even older, more hidden, past.     Does anyone live or work at 437 anymore?  What lies behind the door?

exterior wall, brown paint, number of 437 above the door, cracked wood plywood beside the door, old and broken intercom system that has been painted over, next door window is a store, with mannequin head on a shelf

below: This little place had a short life as a store – but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was.   I think that once upon a time it was an 8 Eleven (play on 7 Eleven stores) but that was long ago and I know that it closed before I first saw this space.    How easy it is to forget.

very small building with door and window papered over.

below:  As I passed by this window, I thought to myself “How cute, pikachu.”  Then I stopped and went back.  No, not pikachu.  Part of the seedier side of Spadina Avenue.

articles for sale in the window of a store

below:  Layers.  On the left, hoardings around an old building being demolished and on the right, a staid brick building.  Behind them is a newer development with its bright east wall.

street scene, Kensington, with hoardings for demolition, a building from the70's and a newer apartment building in the background with bright coloured squares on the side.

cracked brick wall and decorative carving, on upper storey of an old building

a pair of Bell telephone boxeswith a grey wall behind

 

International Market in this case refers to an area in Toronto, approximately around the intersection of Dufferin and Eglinton West.

street sins on a pole, a one way sign, plus two signs with street names, Belgravia Ave and Dufferin Street, both with orange tops that have the words International Market

There is definitely a diverse (as in multicultural) feel to the area

below: … such as Jamall, Carribean Custom Tailor

older building, with some green around the doors, sign says Jamall Carribean

below:  and the Lady Ann Superstore African Boutique with the adjacent Centro Cultural Latino American.

storefront, Lady Ann Superstore African Boutique with a mannequin, child size, on the sidewalk outside dressed in red African style clothes.

Because Eglinton Avenue runs through the area….

 

street scene on Eglinton Ave with bus shelter, utility pole, street signs, stores, and billboard

there is a lot of upheaval caused by construction of the Eglinton Crosstown line.

wire fence in front of a construction site, lots of dirt, street and buildings in the background.

below: Completion of the subway/LRT isn’t scheduled until 2021.  That seems like a long way off doesn’t it?

a surveyor at work, behind construction fence and cones and in front of stores, Chamsine, and Shantys take-out, which are two storey brick buildings

below: A subway station is being built at Oakwood Avenue.   Because the space is too small for a conventional crane like the ones you see all over the city, this green horizontal structure is being used instead.  It is supported by the metal beams and can slide along the top rail.

a large horizontal crane stretches over a vacant lot where a subway station is being built

below: Rendering of Oakwood station that I found on the Eglinton Crosstown website.

drawing of Oakwood Crosstown station, design plans, taken from Crosstown website.

below: Immediately south of Eglinton is a small lane, Reggae Lane.  Welcome to Reggae Lane was the second mural painted here.  You can see the original Reggae Lane mural in the background.  I blogged about it when it was first painted two years ago.

view looking down an alley, cars parked behind buildings, two murals, Welcome to Reggae Lane,

below: Some of the concrete planters on Eglinton have old black and white photos on the sides.  This was an Art Starts project.

a small tree grows in a concrete planter in front of a grocery store

below: The pictures are small and difficult to see but they are historical photos of the area – stores, people, parks, etc.

small, old black and white photos reproduced and mounted on the side of a concrete planter outside

below:  One of many restaurants on Eglinton, the Budapest Restaurant and Biguly Bar, obviously Hungarian.

a car parked in front a Hungarian restaurant, the Budapest

below: There is also Uzbek cuisine, the Taj Restaurant.   Uzbekistan is one of the “stans” found in central Asia (near Afghanistan) that gained independence from the former Soviet Union 25 years ago.

a blue food truck is parked in front of the Taj Restaurant, an Uzbek restaurant

below: A yellow phone booth?

a public phone, small yellow phone booth mounted on a blue brick wall

below: Faded memories of years gone by.

looking in the window of a store that sells photo frames and such, an old TV sits in the window too. The pictures are all faded to shades of blue and purple

below: The Popular Car Wash – a great price for a car wash.

an old sign for popular car wah, $5.99 in front of a gas station

I’ll leave you with a few more images of the area.  It’s seen better times but it was an interesting place to walk around.   There are signs of improvement – and we’ll see what impact the subway has once it’s finally finished.

street scene with construction cones and signs, some traffic, sidewalk, pedestrians, and stores,

a window of an empty store that is covered with posters

5 black mailboxes arranged vertically in a row between two doors.

three storey brick building with stores on the ground level, traffic in front,

open door of an electronics store, with some speakers and other electronics on display outside too

looking across Eglinton Avenue to some stores, construction traffic cones in front,