Posts Tagged ‘demolition’

Another story of changes underway;
more documentation of buildings about to disappear.

trees and overgrown yard, two large signs advertising townhouse developments to come

On a leafy stretch of Bayview Avenue, there are some buildings that now sit empty.  The weeds have taken over the yards, as have large signs advertising the townhouse development that will be built there.   Actually the signs are only on one yard, this one:

below:  There are curtains in the window but some shingles are missing and the frontyard is overgrown with weeds – 2716 Bayview Avenue, sitting empty.   If you drive past it on Bayview you’d probably miss it because of the large trees between the house and the street.

small brick house with attached garage, overgrown front yard, tiger lilies growing by the front, piles of mulch on driveway, some ivy on front of house, some shingles missing from the roof

below: Nature takes over very quickly if you let it.  The lilies haven’t lost to the thistles yet though.

thistles, orange tiger lilies, and ivy, growing in a garden at the front of a house

below: The backyard was very overgrown too. The side door was open but I didn’t go in.  The basement appears to be in good shape.

an open basement door on the side of a house, overgrown yard, pile of debris in the foreground

If you go to their website, only 7 townhouses are shown in the drawings while the properties on either side of it (4 in total) are included in the plans as “future development”.   If you look at the original application on the City of Toronto website, the whole plan called for 20 townhouses facing Bayview Ave and a single family dwelling facing the street behind.  Each townhouse is 4 storeys (including basement level which is half garage and driveway) and 18’9″ wide.  The above ground levels are 47′ deep.   The site drawings and architectural plans were from June 2017.   I am not sure why the discrepancy.  It’s not uncommon for changes to occur between the planning stage and the final product…   So take the measurements that I just gave you with a grain of salt.

below:  One house to the south, 2710 Bayview.  A newer style house than its neighbour with part of its front yard hidden behind a glass block wall.   It too is set back a large distance from the street.  Once upon a time, someone put some love and care into this house.   I hoped that it was well used in its time.

modern style house with glass brick wall in front, around a front porch, large spruce tree, overgrown driveway,

modern style house with glass brick wall in front, around a front porch, large spruce tree, overgrown driveway,

double red doors, front entrance way to an empty modern design house

below:  Moving north, this is 2720 Bayview.  There is evidence that large trees have already been cut down.  At the moment all the evidence is well hidden from passers-by.   A year ago, farther south on Bayview a developer cut down 30+ large trees without permits from the city because they were building townhouses on the site  The outcry was big but the penalty is small.

white stucco bungalow with the remains of a chopped up tree in front

below: But….  if you have permission to build townhouses, there is no way the trees can stay.  Any plan that involves creating 20 new townhouses in less space than four single houses doesn’t leave room for large trees.  Those will be a thing of the past on this stretch of Bayview.  The one below was so big that I couldn’t reach around the trunk of the tree.

a large mature broadleaf tree in summer, green

below: The fourth building, 2722 Bayview, was originally built as a residence, but it has been a medical clinic for decades.  If you peer in the window, there are still posters on the wall (Is It Flu?) and even reading material on the table ([something] Task Force).  There is a sign on the front door that says that 2 June 2017 was the last day the clinic was open.

interior of medical clinic, no longer used, looking in the window, chair, posters on wall,

weeds coing up through the cracks in the pavement of a parking lot in front of an unused medical clinic, front entrance of the clinic, full length windows

Lastly, I took a picture of this house too as it is beside the ones above.   The “Notice” sign on the fence was a bit of a surprise considering how new the house was.  My original assumption was that the house was going to be demolished.  In fact, the planning application says that the house will be moved to the back of the property and three townhouses will be built in front.  One driveway down the north side of the property will access both the new townhouses and the moved house.

Apparently the application was submitted in December 2016 –  However, I noticed that the original application called for three 3 storey townhouses (and is on the City of Toronto website as such).  The sign says three 4 storey townhouses and a three storey single family dwelling.  The house in the photo is only 2 storeys.

a city of Toronto blue and white notice of development sign is on a black wrought iron fence in front of a large stone faced two storey house with a large front yard, grass and shrubs

What I’ve also learned while researching these properties, is that there is an official document called, “Bayview Townhouse Design Guidelines” that covers Bayview Avenue from the 401 south to Lawrence Avenue East.  It was adopted by City Council late in 2015.   In fact, large portions of the city have design guidelines and you can find them online.

I was curious to find out how many ongoing development proposals/applications there are in the city.  There is an interactive searchable map online that I used.  When I searched on ward 25 (where the above sites are), it showed 52 locations.  When I tried searching on the whole city, there were too many results.  If you’re interested in development, you can play with the website too!

thistles, close up of flower part of thistle, one purple flower

weeds growing out of cracks in the pavement of a parking lot, handicapped parking sign still there.

This is the story of one building at one intersection, Yonge and Belsize (just south of Eglinton) but it’s also a story that is being repeated over and over again in the city.  The story of demolition and rebuilding.  The story of loss of the older wood and brick structures as they are replaced by glass and steel.

By December 2016 all of the businesses had closed down.

row of two storey store fronts, old brick building, that is now empty and about to be demolished, on Yonge Street

Mars advert on Belsize convenience store, old brick building with large windows and blue window frame, snow banks on sidewalk, now empty

signs in the window of a store that has just closed down. one is a permit to demolish the building and the other is a hand written sign on orange paper that is a thank you note from the managers of the store to the public

below: The back of the building

back of a brick building, winter time, with snow on the ground, construction fence around it, windows boarded up

Just over a year later demolition began in earnest.

back upper storey of building being torn down, exposing office furniture that was abandoned

interiorwallson upper storey are exposedin building being demolished

a construction worker in heavy winter orange clothes and yellow helmet, holds a stop sign to stop the traffic on Yonge street in front of a building being demolished

workmen standing around beside a front end loader that is being used to tear down an old brick building

exterior of building being demolished, black door uperlevel with drop below

old metal water pipes exposed on green and blue interior wall when building being demolished

red plastic danger tape blows in the wind. one end is tied to a blue fence and one strand is also tied to a building being demolished

remains of an old building being torn down in the foreground, a front end loader in the middle, and apartment buildings in the background.

on old metal chair frame sitsin a room with a lot of wood debris around it

Demolition of Honest Ed’s has begun.

sign on construction oardings that says warning: gentrification in progress

below: Sign of the times that says: “If you’re reading this it’s too late”.

part of exterior wall of Honest Eds with posters pasted on to it. One poster says If you are reading this

below:  Looking through the window to the rubble inside.   The staircases remain but the floors and walls are gone.

building being demolished, back wall gone, starting on the interior, looking through a window on side wall, to see the exposed insides, staircases, and rubble

below: Spray painted on the fence, “toujour dans mon coeur”.  Forever in my heart.

side of Honest Eds building, Markham street side, green fence around it, spray paint words on fence, toujours dans mon coeur

below: From behind. The section to the east of the alley is still intact and the alley is still accessible.

part of Honest Eds is still standing and part is demolished

below: The view from Markham street.

two front end loaders work to demolsh the back part of Honest Eds as well as sort and clear the rubble

sgn that says Sidewalk closed pedestrians use other sidewalk, beside Honest Eds on Bathurst street as they get the building ready to tear down

Relentless

Ubiquitous

These are two apt words to describe construction in Toronto, or to be more precise, the tearing down of  older houses and building smaller condo units or townhouses in their place.  We are experiencing the downsizing of living space as land values continue climbing upwards.

I drove past this Bayview Avenue house on the weekend and was intrigued by the look of it – a pale yellow,  once grand older house now sitting empty.   Many of the mature trees that were in its front yard have been cut down so the house is now easily visible from the street.  I went back to that section of Bayview Avenue with my camera yesterday morning.

older two storey house, pale yellow, with black and white trim and black front door, mature trees in the front yard.

There wasn’t much of a chain across the front yard so it was easy to walk up to the house.  It looks like the front door hasn’t been used in quite some time.   The window appears to have an old fashioned storm window on the outside although the shutters look more modern.   I’d love to know the history of the house (How old is it?  I suspect that it was built when this section of Bayview was still on the fringes of the city and before Bayview became 5 lanes wide but I don’t know for sure.)

front door of an older house, number 2450, pale yellow walls, white frames around door and window, black door, black shutters,

Right next door is this large bungalow:

large bungalow set back from the street behind a few pine trees, brown roof, stone facing on the exterior, large lawn,

Originally built as a family home, this became the Bayview Hebrew School of the Arts in 2008.  The school is relocating and the building now sits empty.

nonsdescript white double doors as front entranceway of a house, flagstone steps and porch are buckling as is the ashphalt walkway leading to the front door.

looking through the front window into an empty building, looking through the back windows to the yard beyond.

Just up the street was this house.  It looks empty but there was a recycling bin beside the garage and some curtains in the windows so I didn’t wander up to the front door…. even though I really like that red door!  There was no chain across the driveway, nor were there any “keep out” signs.   Neither of those things would stop me, but they are good indicators that no one lives there anymore.   Google street view of this address is from August 2015 and at that time there was a for sale sign on the property.

bungalow set back from the street, large front yard with uncut long grass and a few mature trees, also a low wood fence,

The above are the “going” half of the title of this blog post.  The “coming” are these doors under construction; they too are on this part of Bayview Avenue.   Side by side front doors with a concrete layer between them – two of a row of five townhouses.  One day (soon?) someone will be able to walk in their front door and go up a level or two, to floors that haven’t yet been built.

from the front, street view, two of a row of townhouses under construction, plywood exterior with holes where the doors and windows are going to be.

This is the development that caused an uproar a year ago when they illegally clear cut two lots – cutting down about 30 large trees including a linden tree that was close to 150 years old in the process.  According to the City of Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 813, Article III, conviction for cutting down a mature tree  results in a “minimum fine of $500.00 and a maximum fine of $100,000.00 per tree involved in an offense; a special supplementary fine of $100,000.00 is also possible.” (source).

In October 2016, Format Group (the developers involved) paid a fine of $155,064.  This amount includes $657.30 per tree to cover city inspection costs and $116,600 for the planting of 200 new trees — mostly at other sites.

The two lots will be developed into 11 3-storey townhouses and 4 single family houses.  All units have already sold.

a row of townhouses being built, the lower floors are framed with plywood, the upper storey hasn't been started yet.

Before I leave the area, there is something similar going on across the street.

tree with yellow caution tape in front of an empty lawn with empty house in the background

First – there is this empty house sitting on a corner lot at Bayview and Wilket.  This one property is the future home of seven 3-storey townhouses as well as one single detached house.   Does anyone want to do the math on the potential profit – one house for 8 units in a time where even a townhouse sells for more than a million.

driveway and entranceway of a brick house that is now empty

Second – this sign has also appeared nearby. When I checked their website I found this description: “Located in north Toronto, The Bridle Path is synonymous with prestige and exclusive luxury. Known for its spectacular homes and refined neighbourhood character, it’s no wonder that this is the place that Toronto’s discerning elite prefer to call home. Now, on Bayview Ave. in the heart of the Bridle Path neighbourhood, Kingsmen Group is excited to introduce a new luxury townhome community that embodies the very essence of refined prestige living. Register today for more information coming soon.”

There is so much wrong with that paragraph.  I wouldn’t call this part of Bayview a part of the Bridle Path neighbourhood; you might be able to make an argument that it’s on the fringes of said neighbourhood but that would be stretching it.  “Prestige” and “luxury” are words that are so overused that they are almost meaningless with respect to Toronto real estate.   It seems silly to compare a townhouse on Bayview with the homes on the Bridle Path but I guess that’s what sells.  Actually, you could probably sell them without such a comparison!

sign advertising new townhouse devlopment by kingsmen Group inc.

Oh dear, I want to call this a Thursday Doors post so I’d best call it quits here.  I’ve probably already strayed too far off topic!  For more information on the Thursday Doors project see here.

Right now, the section of Sheppard Avenue East between Yonge and Leslie streets is a mix of old, middle aged and new – a hodge podge of sizes, styles and uses.   It’s neither ugly nor pretty.  It’s not sure if it’s city or  suburban.

below: The intersection of Bayview and Sheppard from the southwest.

main road with traffic, coming to an intersection, with a tall building in the background

You’ll probably never hear anyone say, “Hey, let’s go for a walk along Sheppard”.  So why was I there?   I’ve driven along this stretch many times but I have never walked it.  Have I been missing something?

below: A short distance west of Bayview is the modern brick St. Elizabeth of Hungary Roman Catholic Church, or ÁrpádHázi Szt. Erzsébet Római Katolikus Templom according to their sign.  Sunday mass is in Hungarian.   If you are driving past on Sheppard Ave, it’s easy to miss the simple steeple and cross that marks this building as a church.

steeple of St. Elizabeth of HUngary RC church, modern brick building with simple cross on the top

below: A large mosaic adorns one of the exterior walls.

mosaic on the exterior brick wall of St. Elizabeth of Hungary RC Church showing St. Elizabeth and two people kneeling beside her.

below: A small shrine is in front of the church.

small picture of Mary and baby Jesus in bright colours, on a small shrine in front of a church

below: The south entrance to Bayview subway station.  There are no escalators at this entrance  – instead, there is an elevator and a LOT of stairs.

south entrance to Bayview subway station with tall residential buildings behind and a construction site beside

below: The artwork at Bayview station is by Panya Clark Espinal, titled ‘From Here Right Now’.  Half an apple lies on the platform.

art on a subway platform, a line drawing of a very large apple that has been cut in half, on the wall and floor of the station

below: A salt or pepper shaker on the wall.  I’ve only shown two of the images in the series.  There are 24 in total and they are scattered throughout the  station.

art on a subway platform wall, a salt or pepper shaker in black on white tiles

below: There is a small park behind the south entrance to Bayview subway station, Kenaston Garden Parkette where I saw this tree in bud.   The first signs of spring are always wonderful to see.   Today it’s -12C outside so I hope the tree is okay.

pussy willow buds on a tree

below: This little park was designed by Wilk Associates Landscape Architecture and it incorporates a large number of rocks including a glacial boulder found on the site.   A bronze sculpture of a tree clinging to a rock  by Reinhard Reitzenstein is one of the features of the park.

small sculpture in a park of a sapling on a rock with its roots growing over the surface of the rock

below: If you stand in the park and look east,  you can’t miss the construction.

small sculpture in a park of a sapling on a rock with its roots growing over the surface of the rock - crane and construction site in the background

a convex mirror beside a black and yellow caution sign, condos are reflected in the mirror

the front and side of a large truck is in the foreground, right side, with a construction site beyond

Construction is everywhere on Sheppard Avenue.

below: All of the houses on Cusack Court are now gone.  Only the ‘No Exit’ sign remains.

a construction site where the houses on a a whole street have been demolished. The no exit sign for the street still remains., the site is behind a chainlink fence

a banner of the Canadian flag has fallen over and is lying on the ground behind a chainlink fence

below: The single family homes on the south side of Sheppard are slowly being demolished to make way for condo developments.  At the corner of Sheppard Ave East and Greenbriar  the proposed development of 184 residential units is the subject of an OMB prehearing on the 8 May 2017  (case number PL161113).

a boarded up house, split level, built in the 1950s, is in the foreground, condos and apartment buildings are behind it

below: Five houses are empty and waiting to be demolished to make way for two buildings, 11 and 6 storeys, mixed use (i.e. retail at street level) and incorporating a few townhouses.  In other words, the same old same old.

a boarded up house, split level, built in the 1950s, is in the foreground, condos and apartment buildings are behind it

below:  I said “same old same old” above because these types of buildings are popping up all over  many major roads that are outside the downtown core.  I suspect that Sheppard Avenue will be lined with structures like this one that’s already been built on the north side of Sheppard.

across the street is a 10 storey residential building, cars on the street, small trees in the foreground

Many people make the argument that there isn’t the density to support a subway along Sheppard.  I am of the opinion that if they’re not wrong now, they soon will be.   Development and public transit are dependent on each other, a symbiotic relationship if you will.   If you are affected by the construction along Eglinton for the new Crosstown line, you might agree that waiting for density only increases the problems and inconvenience (and cost?) of building new subway lines.   Also, have you seen photos of what the area around Davisville or Finch (and others) stations looked like when the subway opened there?   What is the required density?  Why do we want to funnel even more people towards the overcrowded Yonge line anyhow?   Is there an end to the questions we can ask?

And that’s another reason for my walk here…. to make note of the construction that is occurring whether we agree with it or not and to document some of  the changes.

below:  Two low rise apartment buildings.

two three storey brick apartment buildings with balconie in the front, taken from across the street

below: Once upon a time there were a lot of these little houses along Sheppard (even more so on the west side of Yonge Street).  At least one of these is still used as a family home but most are now offices or businesses.

a few small brick houses on the south side of Sheppard Ave

below: The north entrance to Bessarion station

looking across the street to the small north entrance to Bessarion subway station, with a small two storey plaza beside it

below: Looking east from Bessarion.  You can see as far as the condos on Don Mills Road.

looking west from Bessarion subway station towards Leslie Street and beyond,

   There is a reason that you haven’t seen many people in these pictures and it’s not because I waited for people to get out of the way.   Sheppard Avenue is a “major arterial road” under Toronto’s road classification system and traffic movement is its major function.  20,000+ cars are expected to use it every day.

I don’t like to say it, but why would you be walking along Sheppard anyhow?

below: Bayview Village parking lot at the NE corner of Bayview and Sheppard.

parking lot of a mall, Bayview village with surrounding buildings in the background.

As you might know, scroll down to the next blog post to see some pictures of Bessarion station!

 

We looked out side and saw that it was a beautiful sunny day!
These gals may be all dressed up with nowhere to go but I decided to hit the streets again.

looking out a store window, 3 headless mannequins are in the window, dresses in women's clothing, one has a red tam on her shoulders, one has a dress with a repeating pattern of typewriters, one has a red skirt with with white hearts all over it.

window mannequins, Doll Factory by Damzels, Queen St East

below: It seems I’m in a neighbourhood that lovebot watches over and protects!

a neighbourhood watch sign posted on a hydro pole, a lovebot sticker is on each of the three houses on the sign

below: A ghost sign that has been revealed by demolition of a building on Queen Street East .
“Relieves fatigue, sold everywhere” is part of an old coca-cola ad. I wonder if 5 cents was a bargain at that time.

an old wall has been exposed after a building has been demolished. The sign is part of an old coca cola advertisement and says relieves fatigue 5 cents.

below: Another ghost sign.  Mr. Frankfurt “Toronto’s hot dog king” opened their restaurant in July of 1984.  It is long gone but the large yellow sign remains.

a large yellow sign for Mr. Frankfurt restaurant showing a red headed girl trying to eat a hot dog that is larger than she is. yellow sign attached to building.

below:  Peace and love encounter number two!

spray paint large red lips, outline drawing, on an old wood garage door in an alley

below: Love and concern of a different kind.   Part of COUNTERfit memorial where people have scratched words and drawings into the metal.   An angel, a heart, a dove, a coffin.  “The war on drugs is a war on us”.   “For every prohibition, you create an underground”.  “Each death is an end of the world Cada muerie es un fin del mundo.”   There is more to this memorial including a list of names as well as flowers and candles that have been left at the base of the metal sculpture.

part of a metal memorial for people who died of drugs and AIDS, Counter fit (a harm reduction organization). people have scratched words and drawings into the metal, a dove, a heart, words like The war on drugs is a war on us

below: Eddie’s Convenience with it’s bit of history.  The mural on the wall is from an old photograph of Queen Street East circa 1926.   The old “drink Canada Dry” sign that hangs over the doorway is a piece of history too.  The faded words on the top of the sign say “Eddie’s Confectionery”.    Does anyone know how old the sign might be?

looking diagonally across the steet to Eddie's convenience store with it's old Canada Dry ad sign hanging over the doorway and the black and white mural taken from a view of Queen St. East long ago.

below: More peace and love!

painting on a garage door, black line drawing of a face on blue with peace written above and love written below the face

 below: It seems like everywhere I go I encounter a building being demolished and today was no exception.  The Church of Our Lady and St. Basil near Queen and Logan is in the process of coming down.  It was not an old building.

vertical windows on a birck church, behind a chain link fence. Two of the windows have panes missing and are covered with orange cloth

below: Alley access is blocked beside the church.
You can see into the church where part of the exterior wall has been broken.

orange cones and a construction fence block entrance to an alley beside a church that is being demolished

below: Dust drifts past the stained glass windows.

dust from demolition drifts up and past church stained glass windows that are now seen more clearly because one of the exterior walls has been partially removed

below: Valentine love (and Christmas bells) for all those who pass through the gate.
How can you resist smiling as you pass by?

a small archway over a gate at the entrance to a front yard, the arch is the shape of a heart and it has been decorated with flowers.

below: A different house, a different arch over a gate – this time little balloon shaped objects made of fabric with tassles at the bottom.  Do they have any significance?

hanging lantern shapes made of fabric, with tassles at the bottoms, hanging over a gate, yellow, green, orange and white

below: A large plant grows inside.

a metal grille that was painted green covers a window with a rusty metal frame and one pane cracked. A plant grows inside the window.

below: A sunny day makes for interesting shadows.

shadows on a sunny day, a metal fire escape is diagonal across the back of a light teal coloured house, it passes the bottom corner of a window

below: A little bit of whimsy.  Someone has hung three little decorative bird houses from the branch of a tree, not in someone’s front yard but by the sidewalk on Queen Street East.

three little decorative bird houses hang from a tree branch by the sidewalk

below: And whimsy is good.   This isn’t exactly cupid but it’s naked and has wings.  Cupid as a grown-up?

a wood cut out in pale pink, mounted high on an exterior green wall, naked person with wings and a funny shaped face

below: Full circle, back to Doll Factory by Damzels – have a happy day!

mannequin head, bright yellow short hair, blue eyes, red lips, pink ears, big smile on her face, wearing a beige tam

The Frederick G. Gardiner Expressway, commonly just called the Gardiner, has been in the news a lot lately.  This 18 km stretch of road between the city and the lake was completed in 1965 after years of planning and building.  At the time that it was built, Toronto’s waterfront was largely industrial and there wasn’t much objection to having a 4 to 6 lane expressway, with many sections elevated, built there.   The railway had begun the process of dividing the city from its waterfront a hundred years previously.

As the city changes and grows, more and more people live in the downtown core.  Industry has moved out and residents have moved in.  For so long the land south of the Gardiner as well as under the Gardiner was neglected, especially from a city planning point of view.  But now, the city is looking differently at that swath of land.  The far east elevated section between the Don Valley Parkway and Leslie Street was demolished in 2001 and there have been calls for the next section (Jarvis to the DVP) to be demolished as well.   There has been some controversy as to whether to demolish it or move it… and if move it, where to? I am not even sure what the plans are at the moment.   On the other hand, the western section of the elevated expressway (Strachan to Spadina) will remain standing.  Work is underway to refurbish the structure – the city doesn’t want any more stories of pieces of concrete dropping onto cars beneath!  Plans are being implemented to use the land under the Gardiner much more efficiently.  To make it work for the public.

The Bentway is the name that has been given to this new park, or public space, beneath the Gardiner Expressway from Strachan 1.4 kilometres east to Spadina. The first phase is due to open Canada Day 2017 and it involves the stretch between Strachan and Bathurst.  Many of you have probably driven on the Gardiner but do any of you know what is under it now?  Let’s take a look.

below: The Gardiner passes over Strachan Avenue which  in turn passes over the railway tracks.

bridge over a street, many orange and black construction cones down the center of the road, some pedestrians on the sidewalk

below:  On Strachan Ave looking west.   Condo development in this area has extended right to the railway line.  The Exhibition GO train station is in the distance.  You can also see the Gardiner to the left of the tracks.  Here the north side of the under part of the expressway is walled in and the enclosed space is used by Exhibition Place.  At this time there is no plan for the Bentway to extend this far; I have used this photo to provide more context as to the location of the park.

railway tracks in the center of the picture, condos on the right. On the left is the elevated Gardiner expressway, but under it is a concrete wall that makes it look more like a concrete building than a road

below: A closer look at the Gardiner on the west side of Strachan Avenue.  Maybe there is potential to expand the park westward? to Exhibition GO station? And by the way, those concrete structures holding up the expressway – those are called ‘bents’ and that is why the park is called what it is.

a dirt road runs alongside the Gardiner Expressway, some condos in the distance

below: This photo was taken as I stood on Garrison Common and looking towards Strachan Avenue.  This will be the western end of the new park. You can see the underside of the Gardiner as it passes over Strachan Ave which in turn is also a bridge.  This bridge once crossed the Grand Trunk Railway tracks that were built in the 1850s.  New entrances to the park are planned that incorporate the present sloped embankment of the bridge.

The elevated Gardiner Expressway passes over Strachan Ave which in turn has a bridge over what used to be a rail line. The bottom part of the bridge is covered with graffiti. The whole area is a construction site at the moment.

below: A quick aside:  It’s a slightly different angle, but here is a photo of the Strachan Avenue bridge from 1959, before the Gardiner was built.  I suspect that there has been upgrades made to the bridge since then.  Photo credit: R.L. Kennedy, found online (also a good source for the history of the Grand Trunk Railway in Toronto).  Garrison Common is to the right.

vintage photo from 1959, GTR tracks pass besidde Garrison Common park and under the bridge at Strachan Ave

Garrison Common is the green space surrounding Fort York.  It will abut (be continuous with?) the new Bentway.  Fort York is a National Historic Site and on its 43 acre site are original buildings from the War of 1812 as well as an 1813 battle site.  Did you know that the Americans beat us here in 1813 and controlled the city of York (as Toronto was known then) for a few days?

below: The new Fort York Visitors Centre is now open. There is still being work done both inside and outside, but it is open to visitors. For so long the fort was hidden away and difficult to get to; it is nice to see it receiving more attention.

entrance to Fort York, under the Gardiner, still a construction site but nearing completion

below: Jake from Park People, one of the groups helping to design the new park, stands under the Gardiner as he talks to a group of us on a tour.    Here, by Fort York, the Gardiner is the equivalent of 5 storeys from ground level, the highest it reaches as it crosses the city.

a man is standing in front of a group of people on a walking tour, he is standing under the Gardiner Expressway where it is 5 storeys above ground level.

below: Standing on the grounds of Fort York.  The Bentway will be beyond the stone wall.  You can get a good idea of the spacing between the bents.  These spaces are being referred to as ‘rooms’ and there are 55 of them between Strachan and Spadina.

from the grounds of Fort York looking south to the Gardiner and the condos built beyond it. Grass field in the foreground.

below: One obstacle is the fact that Fort York Blvd passes under the Gardiner on a diagonal.  Plans are to build a pedestrian/cycle bridge over the street.  Also in the photo, note the TTC bus – Fort York and vicinity are finally on a bus route.  Route 121 runs between the Portlands and Fort York via Union Station.

fort york blvd is in the foreground, a TTC bus and a car are on it, the Gardiner is to the right and a short condo building is in the background along with the CN tower

below: The section under the Gardiner Expressway between Bathurst Street and Fort York Blvd is not city owned. It is owned, and has already been developed, by the Onni Group who built the Garrison at Fort York condominiums on either side of it.  This is the eastern end of phase 1.

evening, low angle sunlight shines under the Gardiner Expressway where it has been developed with paving stones and some large rocks.

below: Northbound traffic on Bathurst passes under the Gardiner.

some traffic on Bathurst street on a rainy day, as the street passes under the Gardiner Expressway, condos on the right, construction hoardings on the left.

Phase 2 of the park’s development involves land between Bathurst and Spadina. This is an area that is undergoing a lot of changes at the moment, i.e. a lot of construction.

below: Immediately south of the Gardiner on the northeast corner of Bathurst and Lakeshore is a construction site.  Demolition of the old 1928 Loblaws warehouse building is now complete.  The facade of the old building was disassembled rather than demolished; after cleaning and refurbishing of the bricks, it will be rebuilt in its original location.  Two condo towers are planned for the space between Loblaws and the Gardiner.  Yes, more condo towers to face the Gardiner and add to the tunnel effect that you get when you drive on the expressway.

construction site in downtown Toronto, Gardiner Expressway runs behind the site, rubble in the foreground, a few remaining remnants of the old Loblaws building that was there, high rises in the background.

below: The development of this site is a collaboration between a number of developers.  I found a photo of one rendition (source) of what the space under the Gardiner will look like here in the future.  Public space including a cafe are part of the plans.  Check back in a couple of years to see what really happens here!

artist's rendering of what a planned development for under the Gardiner would look like, part of a larger condo and retail development.

below:  Standing on Bathurst Street, looking east along what will be Housey Street.  This is just north of where the Loblaws development (above) will be.  As you can see, you can’t walk there yet.

the elevated road, the Gardiner Expressway passes over a construction site on the right, a new street being built on the left.

below: Southeast corner of Bathurst and Fort York Blvd.  This is the section of land just north of Housey Street.  Construction hoardings and cranes – familiar sights in this area.  It also means that taking photos of under the Gardiner here are difficult!

late afternoon, long shadows, yellowish tint to the photo, looking east from Bathurst, south of Front, north of the Gardiner, wood construction hoardings with posters on it, many orange cranes, some condos already built, a woman jogging past, cars on the street.

below: Development north of the Gardiner between Bathurst and Dan Leckie Way.

construction site under the Gardiner, cranes and condos being developed on the left, CN tower in the fog in the distance.

Dan Leckie Way is a north-south road that runs under the Gardiner just east of Bathurst.  It is the western boundary of Canoe Landing Park.  This park is north of the Gardiner and the Lakeshore.

below: ‘Tom Thomson’s Canoe’, by Douglas Coupland sits at the highest point of land in the area; it’s almost at the same level as the Gardiner and is very visible as you drive by.   This park extends down the hill.

The end of a large red canoe, an artwork by Douglas Coupland called 'Tom Thomson's Canoe' sits in a park, high above the surrounding scenery. Looking southwest towards the elevated Gardiner Expressway and the condo developments south of it.

below: Looking the other way from the same vantage point. The street running under the Gardiner here is Dan Leckie Way . Up until this point the Lakeshore is south of the Gardiner.

The elevated Gardiner Expressway with traffic is in the middleground, some trees and parkland in the foreground, and condo developments in the background.

At Dan Leckie Way, the Lakeshore is still south of the Gardiner and the space under the expressway is wide open.   By Spadina, one major block east, the situation changes.   The Lakeshore splits and westbound traffic lanes go north of the Gardiner and eastbound lanes stay south.  Shortly after Spadina, the Lakeshore runs under the Gardiner and there is no room for any further development under the road.

below: Standing on Spadina, just south of the Gardiner and looking west.  Here there is a lot of road to cross for pedestrians on Spadina.  Not only has the Lakeshore split to run on either side of the Gardiner, but there are also ramps between the Gardiner and the Lakeshore.

major road with traffic under an elevated expressway in a city, long ramp from the upper level to the lower. Gardiner Expressway and Lakeshore Blvd in Toronto, at Spadina looking west

below:   Still on Spadina, and still looking west, but now under the Gardiner.  The space under the road is not as high as it was previously.  Its lower and darker and not as inviting.   It will be interesting to see what phase 2 of the Bentway development will look like in this space.  I am not sure when it will to be finished but I will keep an eye on it!

under an elevated section of the Gardiner Expressway, at Spadina.

As for the eastern Gardiner, what does that look like?  Well, that’s a whole other blog post!

 Project: Under Gardiner  On this site you’ll find detailed maps and diagrams of this area as well as information about the plans for the various sections of the space.