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Old 11-05-2010, 12:57 PM
 
705 posts, read 1,767,949 times
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is that there are so many two or three storey houses in the downtown core. These can be either residential or commerical propoerties. You find hundrends of them on Queen St West, Dundas St, Spadina Ave, Adelaide, Richmond, John St, Peter St, and especially, Yonge St. Everywhere you go, you see Victorian houses used as shops and restaurants, not in the neighbourhoods, but in the very center of the downtown core. The financial district, Bay St, and Bloor east of Bay St are probably the only few exceptions.

Among other major North American cities I have been too, I have never seen another one with so many small houses in the downtown business/commerical area, not Montreal, not Vancouver, not Chicago, not even Boston. I assume they existed, but were demolished and gave place to bigger and newer structures.

Don't get me wrong, I think those houses are charming, if they sit in the residential area. However, in downtown, they just don't look right. They are not really compatible with those modern skysrapers and don't seem right when sitting next to them, which is possibly why Toronto doesn't give a big & modern city impression. For example, it seems odd to see that at some important insections, such as Dundas and Bay, King and Spadina, King and Yonge, where it is supposed to be busy and grand, a small two story old-looking building house sits right there, possible next to a 30 story bank tower. It seems that in Toronto anything is in an old two story house: a high end italian restaurant, a gym chain, a bank branch, a hip night club, a fashion store. Even Chanel and Louis Vuitton stores are in these wooden houses.

I could be wrong, but I have never seen another downtown core of a major city scattered with so many small houses. Montreal and Boston are older but they are not like that at all. Chicago, no way. Is there any historical reason? Is it because it is too costly to replace them (honestly they are not making the best use of those prime locations), or it is the city's intention to keep them as they are now?
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Old 11-07-2010, 07:50 PM
 
155 posts, read 433,230 times
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I'd like to see the entire 'Yonge Strip' demolished. Between Bloor and Dundas is disgusting. And to think, this is a street that Toronto prides itself on. What message is that sending to people about the rest of the city?
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Old 11-08-2010, 01:08 PM
 
78 posts, read 270,615 times
Reputation: 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by kkgg7 View Post
is that there are so many two or three storey houses in the downtown core. These can be either residential or commerical propoerties. You find hundrends of them on Queen St West, Dundas St, Spadina Ave, Adelaide, Richmond, John St, Peter St, and especially, Yonge St. Everywhere you go, you see Victorian houses used as shops and restaurants, not in the neighbourhoods, but in the very center of the downtown core. The financial district, Bay St, and Bloor east of Bay St are probably the only few exceptions.

Among other major North American cities I have been too, I have never seen another one with so many small houses in the downtown business/commerical area, not Montreal, not Vancouver, not Chicago, not even Boston. I assume they existed, but were demolished and gave place to bigger and newer structures.

Don't get me wrong, I think those houses are charming, if they sit in the residential area. However, in downtown, they just don't look right. They are not really compatible with those modern skysrapers and don't seem right when sitting next to them, which is possibly why Toronto doesn't give a big & modern city impression. For example, it seems odd to see that at some important insections, such as Dundas and Bay, King and Spadina, King and Yonge, where it is supposed to be busy and grand, a small two story old-looking building house sits right there, possible next to a 30 story bank tower. It seems that in Toronto anything is in an old two story house: a high end italian restaurant, a gym chain, a bank branch, a hip night club, a fashion store. Even Chanel and Louis Vuitton stores are in these wooden houses.

I could be wrong, but I have never seen another downtown core of a major city scattered with so many small houses. Montreal and Boston are older but they are not like that at all. Chicago, no way. Is there any historical reason? Is it because it is too costly to replace them (honestly they are not making the best use of those prime locations), or it is the city's intention to keep them as they are now?
I always felt the same thing. It is actually quite interesting to see detached houses with porches,frontyards&backyards, and seperated garages on the back - in downtown. I haven't studied about why, but I have assumptions:

- Most of the older major big cities in NA had and still have rowhouses around downtown where density is higher. If you look at Montreal, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, etc you'll know that there are lots of these. Interestingly, Toronto doesn't. Well it does have some rowhouses and denser form of residential blocks, but it is quite limited and not as dense or "urban" since they usually have frontyards etc.

-When residential blocks are dense enough, I think they fit in well even when they're in downtown. look at Manhattan's Greenwich Village, you'll know what I mean.

-I think actually a lot of those rowhouses were transformed into mixed use buildings, having retail/business on the ground level - not only in Toronto, but other cities too. And this transformation is quite smooth when the existing building is dense enough on street level and the setback. I think I have seen lot of these in Montreal.

-But in toronto, I don't think this transformation was very smooth, for the reasons I stated. having frontyards and detached buildings does have effect on connected urban feeling when you're walking - when those buildings are mixed use buildings. (and they are not evenly placed - some destroyed, some still standing) I think this is why Kensington Market is quite unique - it actually managed to bring a successful transformation using what could have been disadvantages - and you don't see these kind of formation often in NA.

- Part of the reason is probably because of Toronto's rapid growth. Toronto wasn't a big city a century ago. It was maybe normal to have those houses around downtown. Imagine if providence or whatever suddenly became a very big city (providence has historic houses around downtown), it is not right to demolish them. There are mainly two kinds of buildings, which are commercial/institutional and residential There are probably many factors involved, but Toronto sadly chose to destroy a lot of historic commercial/institutional buildings (look at the pictures below) while a lot of residential buildings survived (I guess it was harder to bulldoze somebody's own home and property).



Overall I don't necessarily think they themselves are bad. What matters more is the density and walkability from the eye level. If those buildings are properly maintained to fit better with the overall urban complex, I think they will be a plus and can be something unique in Toronto.

Also I don't think Toronto really has to have a big city feel. If you go to Philadelphia some main streets are very narrow and those parts don't give you a big city feel, but it does give you some unique feel that's only present in Philadelphia. What Toronto has to develop is something of their own, instead of a generic bigness.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MiD310 View Post
I'd like to see the entire 'Yonge Strip' demolished. Between Bloor and Dundas is disgusting. And to think, this is a street that Toronto prides itself on. What message is that sending to people about the rest of the city?
I disagree. Yonge Street does have some historic buildings, and I don't think demolishing them will be the right solution. Right now they are not in a good shape, and I know they look bad now, but a big part of the reason is that there are just too many buildings with no historical or architectural value in between, and these make the whole street look bad. Also most of the old buildings are poorly maintained, and this is part of the reason you might think so.

Toronto already destroyed too much of what could have been somewhat unique historic area in the name of urban renewal. It would be better to learn from the mistake than to repeat it..

I feel like I'm talking too much. I'll post some good old pictures of Toronto. I can't tell much from these but it looks quite unique compared to now. These might tell what Toronto did wrong in the past and what it has to do in the future. (sources from Skyscrapercity - Old Pictures of Toronto - SkyscraperCity)

One unique thing about Toronto-1900slabourdayparadekz1.jpg

One unique thing about Toronto-1900yongeendofboerwarho0.jpg

One unique thing about Toronto-1901boerwarccompanyreturnkingefromyongnu8.jpg

One unique thing about Toronto-1909kingwfromyongezy6.jpg

One unique thing about Toronto-1910kingtowardsvictoriauu8.jpg

One unique thing about Toronto-1912kingstwhereqpi1.jpg

One unique thing about Toronto-1912yongeandkingyo7.jpg

One unique thing about Toronto-1926queenwlookingefromyorkbd5.jpg

One unique thing about Toronto-1935trafficonyongefromqueenqm7.jpg

One unique thing about Toronto-2125516757_e3b43544b1_o.jpg

One unique thing about Toronto-2125523345_46df496976_o.jpg

One unique thing about Toronto-2126302686_54aee9188c_o.jpg
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Old 11-12-2010, 08:08 AM
 
41 posts, read 168,688 times
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The city fathers laid the early city out using London and the idea of the "garden city" as the model.
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Old 11-13-2010, 06:33 AM
 
705 posts, read 1,767,949 times
Reputation: 284
Quote:
Originally Posted by MiD310 View Post
I'd like to see the entire 'Yonge Strip' demolished. Between Bloor and Dundas is disgusting. And to think, this is a street that Toronto prides itself on. What message is that sending to people about the rest of the city?
Can't agree more. They are probably old or even historical, but undoubtedly ugly (with the exception of Yonge/College intersection).

Dundas St from Bay St westward is pretty nasty as well.
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Old 11-13-2010, 09:54 PM
 
78 posts, read 270,615 times
Reputation: 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by MiD310 View Post
I'd like to see the entire 'Yonge Strip' demolished. Between Bloor and Dundas is disgusting. And to think, this is a street that Toronto prides itself on. What message is that sending to people about the rest of the city?
Quote:
Originally Posted by kkgg7 View Post
Can't agree more. They are probably old or even historical, but undoubtedly ugly (with the exception of Yonge/College intersection).

Dundas St from Bay St westward is pretty nasty as well.
Simply tearing down historical buildings rather than revitalizing is a very archaic and ignorant idea. As a person who majored in Architecture, I can tell you this is a 60's idea. Toronto has already done this too much in the past. Do you want our city to lose more of its uniqueness and build more knock-off generic stuff like Dundas Square??

I know Yonge Street looks somehow dirty and bad now, but it is only because of poor maintenance and poor urban design. (plus some real crappy buildings, not all)

What if Montreal destroyed Old Montreal back in 60's (they almost did) for the "new modern plan"? It's surprising to see people who want to demolish a whole district, in 2010. I hope you were exaggerating.
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