Posts Tagged ‘Chinatown’

Yikes!  Preparations are already underway in the Distillery District for their annual Christmas market.

men on a blue lift crane at the distillery district, old brick building

At least their sign that counts down the number of days until Christmas is not hung yet.  I am not ready to think about Christmas yet!

 

leaning against the side of a building, on its side on the ground, the sign at the distillery district that says how many days left until Christmas

I was hoping for some sun as I walked the other day but October seems to have ended with clouds and rain.  November is here and it is notorious for being grey and depressing.   The clouds on these hoardings seemed appropriate.  They are around a construction site on Lower Sherbourne street, at the southeast corner of Lower Sherbourne and Front.

a woman walks past hoardings on Sherbourne street that are shiny and have pictures of clouds on them

below: This is the hole behind the hoardings.

construction site at Sherbourne and Front

That intersection, (LS & F), has construction sites at both the southeast and northwest corners.  At a third corner, the northeast, there is a development notice sign.

an Esso gas station at the northeast corner of Front and Sherbourne, also a Tim Hortons and a convenience store

Yet another developer wants to build yet another 37 storey building here.  At least one person has voiced their displeasure.

blue and white city of Toronto development notice on the northeast corner of Front and Sherbourne, now an Esso gas station, but developers want to put a 37 storey building there

And other signs of discontent nearby….

in blue marker, graffiti that says Doug Ford kills

time and space condo hoardings where someone has written the word no in front of space, so you have time and no space condos

below: Looking west on King Street East at Jarvis.

King street east,, looking west from Jarvis Street towards steeple of St. James Cathedral and the trees in front of it in autumn colours

below: St. James Park gets new walkways

chainlink fence around parts of St. James park as new walkways are constructed

below: In the Sculpture Garden across the street from St. James Cathedral is a collection of wood poles with small speakers attached to the top of them.  This is an art installation by Lou Sheppard called Dawn Chorus/Evensong 2019.  It is part of the Toronto Biennial of Art that is on now (until late in December).  It “interrupts the denaturalized landscape with music created through the transposition of spectrograms of birdsong…”

in a garden, on flat space, grass, wood poles with small speakers attached to the top of them

below: ‘Haunted City’.  One of a few Halloween decorations along Queen West.

a skeleton wrapped in black hood and cape in a window, with reflections of stores and street on Queen West

below: While walking up Spadina this bike caught my attention because

bike decorated with many used tea bags parked beside a tree on Spadina

below: … it’s decorated with many, many used tea bags. On closer inspection, there seem to be quite a few different brands. My guess is that this is one of a kind…. or at least I hope so!

close up of bike decorated with many used tea bags

a black and red motorbike is parked by a mural in Chinatown of a person carrying babies in baskets.

below: I’m not sure just what these added words mean.  Is now real?  Can we be sure?

orange fence around a tree, tree protection area, someone has written on the sign: Now is the only thing real

below: A few remaining campaign signs from the federal election back in October.  The Liberals won every Toronto seat.

side of a building in Chinatown, stores and restaurant, bike parked there, also three large Adam Vaughan election signs.

looking across Spadina to a store in Chinatown

two women standing on a sidewalk, talking to each other,

skeleton graffiti on a metal street box

below: Discarded and left in a pile in an alley, JFK and Bobby Kennedy rugs.  Not one but four? or five?

small blue carpets in a pile on the ground, about 4 of them, with pictures of John F Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy, a brown eagle, and some words

below: Uber5000 birdies riding in tandem, along with an old banana seat bike affixed to the wall.

an UBer5000 mural of two yellow birdies on a tandem bike. An old bike is affixed to the wall beside the mural

below: A grumpy sign?  Or just a sign with fangs?

at the entrance to an alley, a red and white do not enter sign has been altered, a face has been drawn it in black sharpie

part of a tuquoise painted house beside an alley with fall foilage, a truck and man in the distance

below: Van Gogh can still be found on Huron Street

a portrait of Vincent Van Gogh on an exterior wall, street art mural

below: This is part of the CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) building at College & Huron Streets.  There might be a certain charm in the concrete buildings of this era… when it comes time to renovate them or tear them down, will there be an effort made to save them?

tree with a few remaining yellow leaves in front of a concrete building with long vertical recessed windows

below: Nearby, this “artwork” on the exterior of 215 Huron Street, is from the same time period.

a black metal bench, outside, sits in front of a wall with an artwork on it made from different colours of concrete and pebbles

below: Reflections in a window on the University of Toronto campus.

reflections in a set of windows

below: U of T playing fields on Hoskin Ave with the black/darker brick Trinity College behind.

University of Toronto playing fields, from the south, with Trinity College behind and then city buildings behind that

A few more “campus in autumn” photos

large tree in autumn colours on University of Toronto campus

orange plastic fence, orange and black cone, and autumn trees in a corner of U of T campus

yellow and orange leaves in front of a grey stone building

below: There were still lots of leaves on the trees at Queens Park too.

autumn trees in Queens Park

below: Some of the oak trees had multicoloured leaves.

oak leaves in greens, yellows, reds, and oranges

autumn trees in Queens Park including some pinkish coloured leaves

below: End.  Yes, this is the end.

large black letters make the word end on a red brick wall

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

 

Spadina doors, stores with doors wide open to take advantage of the summer days.  Spadina was once the center of the garment industry in Toronto.  Then it evolved into Chinatown, especially the area south of College and north of Queen.  It still retains some of its Chinese character although there are many other Asian and South Asian influences.  There have also been some changes as the Asian merchants and residents move to the suburbs.

below: Racks of clothing for sale on the sidewalk

racks of pants and t-shirts for sale, on the sidewalk outside a store

below: A quiet corner for a cigarette break

fruits and vegetables for sale outside a food market on Spadina, beside it is another more business like entrance, with stairs, with a young man in an orange vest at the top of the stairs smoking a cigarette

below: She’s standing outside a restaurant that’s covered with signs and menus.

sculpture of a little Asian girl dressed in red holding a large soup bowl, standing outside a restaurant with a lot of signs in the window and on the door

below: There are usually many vendors with small tables of items for sale, such jewellery, herbs & other plants, small household items, clothing, knick knacks, etc.

a man sells items outside a Vietnamese restaurant

a woman in a pink saree and a man in a turquoise turban stand outside the entrance to a clothing store on Spadina

two women outside a store,looking at a phone, a woman inside is crouched on the floor, working.

below: And last, an open door of a different kind.

front end of a Spadina streetcar, evening, door ope as people getting on, ad on the outside with a picture of a woman,

As you can see, the doors themselves are uninteresting, it’s the context that counts here.

This is a “Thursday Door” post.  If you are interested in doors, there are lots of blogs that feature door photos on Thursdays…. check out Thursday Doors organized by Norm 2.0 for more information.

 

There’s a new dragon in Chinatown.  It lives on a wall on Dundas West, just east of Spadina.

mural of a large blue dragon on a wall, outrside, with red and gold coloured spines

This colourful addition to Dundas West was painted by Blinc Studios Artists, Allan Bender, John Nobrega, Jesse McCuaig, Azadeh Pirazimian, Chris Brown, Frannie Potts and Mohammad Jaberi with the help of the Chinatown BIA and the City of Toronto.   It must not have been an easy mural to paint – the wall is not flat but all parts of it have been covered.

looking at a mural from close up, looking upwards. The wall is not flat, there are many indentations, the mural has been painted on sides of the indentations.

Another wonderful mural to brighten up the alley!

view down an alley, a mural is on the right, a girl is walking down the alley

 

 

A summer in Toronto is a summer of small festivals all over the city.  This past weekend, a part of Spadina was closed to traffic to make way for the Chinatown Festival.

looking north from Dundas, up Spadina. Part of the street is closed to traffic to make room for the Chinatown festival. Many people are waiting at the red light.

There were dragons,

Two women under a white Chinese dragon costume and they are walking beside a black dragon, They are following a girl who is holding a white flag with red Chinese characters on it

blog_chinatown_festival_black_dragon

food,

Fried squid on sticks being barbecued at a street festival

deep fried twisted potatos for sale at an outdoor festival

demonstrations and shows,

Four kids, two girls and two boys, practice kicking as part of a muay thai demonstration on an outdoor stage at a festival

Muay thai demonstration

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Two girls wearing shiny red dresses and gold and silver boots perform a dance on an outdoor stage. The audiencee is in the background

dancers from M. Dance school

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magician Stephen Cheung shows a deck of cards at an outdoor show

Stephen Cheung, magician

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A chinese woman sings on an outdoor stage at the Chinatown festival on Spadina Ave

Angel Cheng, singer

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as well as vendors and booths

members of the Toronto Chinese Baptist church making music, singers, accordian, and guitar player

music by members of the Toronto Chinese Baptist Church

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A girl tends a table full of cold drinks that are for sale, on the sidewalk

A young Asian boy sits on his father's shoulders

Mural of the Forbidden City

A while ago I posted pictures of a large mural of The Great Wall of China in an alley off Dundas St. West.   A new mural has been painted on the other side of this alley,  a mural depicting the Forbidden City which is now in the center of Beijing China.  The Forbidden City was an imperial palace for twenty-four emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties (about 1420 to 1912).   One could only enter the complex with the permission of the Emperor, hence the name Forbidden.

mural of the forbidden city in Beijing, painted on a wall in Toronto, showing a statue of a lion outside a building

A pair of Chinese Guardian Lions, one at each end, stand over the Forbidden City.

mural of the forbidden city in Beijing, painted on a wall in Toronto, showing a statue of a lion outside a building

The mural was painted by Blinc Studio artists,
Allan Bender, John Nobrega, Jesse McCuaig and Elaine Teguibon

painting of one of the red buildings in the Forbidden City in Beijing China, part of a mural in an alley in Chinatown

window of a Chinese restaurant with a young man sitting at a table by the window.  On the exterior wall surrounding that window is a painting of a large Chinese lion statue that is part of a larger mural

In an alley to the southeast of Huron St. and  Dundas West is a mural of the Great Wall of China.  It is 147 feet long (almost 45 m) and 12 feet high.

large mural of the great wall of China in an alley, wide angle view with two people walking in front of it

part of large mural of the great wall of China in an alley with a telephone pole in front of it.

part large mural of the great wall of China in an alley, the street end of the alley with part of the mural, the back door of a shop on the other side of the alley is also in view

part of large mural of the great wall of China in an alley, painting of a few people walking towards a building on the great wall

the signature part of a mural, Chinatown BIA, Chinese lettering and the names of the artists.

Chinatown BIA.
Mural painted by Blinc Studios artists: Allan Bender, John Nobrega, Rick Sauve,  Brian Broders, Jesse McQuaig and Ming Lau.
Painted in the summer of 2013.