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Old 02-09-2014, 04:09 PM
 
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Whats also good about the downtown Toronto area is the density which is increasing year by year. No... it's not as dense as NYC or Manila Phillippines, but downtown Toronto is very dense for North American standards. Lots of condos going up, lots of pedestrian traffic/car traffic in various areas (especially during the summer), so so on. The entertainment district is already a busy area and at the moment has at least 12 high-rise condos going up. To the east, there is lots of construction around the Pan Am Village area, Southcore is bustling with development, etc.

So the dense downtown area is getting denser and and better as the years go by.
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Old 02-09-2014, 04:50 PM
 
Location: USA
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I visited Toronto for the first and only time in the mid-sixties. It was as if I'd stepped back in time 30 years. So long ago, I'm sure it has changed more than I can imagine. Calgary in '04 didn't seem dated at all.
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Old 02-09-2014, 04:58 PM
 
Location: Cambridge, MA/London, UK
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Originally Posted by fusion2 View Post
Quite a few of these places have podiums with retail including restaurants/bars/shopping - the thing that we have to be careful of is that we don't demolish buildings either of heritage or of character in favour of endless condo's that'll give us cookie cutter density! I'm all in favour of demolishing a parking lot and some of the ugly architecture that was spawned in the sixties and seventies in favour of some nice developments, but not the places that give the city its character.
I am with you 100%. We live our lives at eye level for the most part, so any historic streetscapes we can preserve is a good thing. I am glad to hear that not only is extra retail being added, but multi tiered at that. I have noticed that Toronto's restaurant and bar options are getting better and better every visit, and this will help to continue that much needed trend.
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Old 02-09-2014, 05:07 PM
 
Location: Cambridge, MA/London, UK
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Originally Posted by mrjun18 View Post
Whats also good about the downtown Toronto area is the density which is increasing year by year. No... it's not as dense as NYC or Manila Phillippines, but downtown Toronto is very dense for North American standards. Lots of condos going up, lots of pedestrian traffic/car traffic in various areas (especially during the summer), so so on. The entertainment district is already a busy area and at the moment has at least 12 high-rise condos going up. To the east, there is lots of construction around the Pan Am Village area, Southcore is bustling with development, etc.

So the dense downtown area is getting denser and and better as the years go by.
You can see the downtown core improving every time you visit Toronto, year over year. With the new towers, that should continue the trend as far as foot traffic is concerned. One note though is something I do not really see an improvement in is nighttime vibrancy. I was in Toronto last X-Mas week and before that in the late summer and its seems that while during the day the city looks more busy than every before it just cant maintain any major improvement in vibrancy late night. Maybe it is just something I noticed, but do you see the same? and you would think that with seemingly more people living downtown than every before you would see an uptick in late night places to eat and drink.

For example one Friday night last X-Mas week a group of us went out in Cold Tea in Kensignton Market (Awesome bar btw, love that place) We were hungry for something non-asian before we went and it was so difficult to find anything good at even 12-1:00am. We eventually found some ****ty Arepas place, but that was a mistake.

So just tying this back to the OP, this is the vibe that people speak of when comparing NYC to other cities. Hardly anywhere is going to have the 24hr life of NYC, but what makes NYC what it is not only the fact that its busy as hell during the day, but that vibrancy lasts all night. I just dont see that in Toronto quite yet, but hopefully it will change in the near future.
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Old 02-09-2014, 07:06 PM
 
Location: Poshawa, Ontario
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Originally Posted by botticelli View Post
It would be more interesting if those festivals could hold some events that show people the background, culture of Italian food for example. A better way is to make some interesting food on the spot and let visitors see how they are made, or even have the opportunity to do it themselves - that will be fun and "cultural". Instead, all the vendors are just pre-made generic food like burgers, sausages, pastas for a higher price - it sounds to me more like an opportunity for them to make more money taking advantage of the festival and the large crowd than providing anything culture, and I am bored by it.
Excellent point. I stopped attending any of Toronto's festivals a long time ago mostly because of "event pricing". I really don't see what anyone gets out of paying exorbitant prices for generic street food other than indigestion and a much lighter wallet. Toronto should pay attention of Oshawa's annual Fiesta Week. At least each Fiesta pavilion has members of that particular ethnic group showcase live music and traditional dances in addition to serving homemade ethnic foods from that particular country, and you leave feeling you have actually experienced a cultural event.

Quote:
By festivals you need to show some real "culture", and involve people into something. For example, the Gay Parade is big too, but except for the repeated message of "pride", what does it really tell people including kids besides many gays like to wear flamboyant often too revealing clothing? Yes, it is a fun party, but in the end, it doesn't really instil people with any positive including tolerance. People love it just like they love Disneyland, and the event does little to bring the gay population any closer to average citizens. And it is the same old trick year after year. Doug Ford crudely said it is a show about "butt-naked men", but don't you think that's exactly the impression the parade leave people with? I myself didn't see much beyond that although I am very pro-gay rights.
From the footage I have seen of this "event", Doug Ford is more than a little accurate. If the goal of the Pride Parade is to garner more acceptance for homosexuals, they are completely going about it the wrong way. I know gays that would prefer if it were cancelled, as they feel the antics of the more flamboyant members of their community reinforce negative stereotypes rather than promoting positive ones.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fusion2 View Post
As Mr Jun stated - there is a difference between cultural and architectural prowess and the vibe a place has. Toronto can create a modern vibe with its own institutions and ped vibrancy that I think will make us hold our own and we are doing a pretty good job actually...
Many cities have a vibe... Chicago has a vibe. Las Vegas has a vibe. Hell, even Detroit has a vibe. However, do any of these compare to the vibe in NYC? Not in the least, I'm afraid.
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Old 02-09-2014, 07:06 PM
 
1,636 posts, read 2,393,979 times
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Originally Posted by edwardsyzzurphands View Post
You can see the downtown core improving every time you visit Toronto, year over year. With the new towers, that should continue the trend as far as foot traffic is concerned. One note though is something I do not really see an improvement in is nighttime vibrancy. I was in Toronto last X-Mas week and before that in the late summer and its seems that while during the day the city looks more busy than every before it just cant maintain any major improvement in vibrancy late night. Maybe it is just something I noticed, but do you see the same? and you would think that with seemingly more people living downtown than every before you would see an uptick in late night places to eat and drink.

For example one Friday night last X-Mas week a group of us went out in Cold Tea in Kensignton Market (Awesome bar btw, love that place) We were hungry for something non-asian before we went and it was so difficult to find anything good at even 12-1:00am. We eventually found some ****ty Arepas place, but that was a mistake.

So just tying this back to the OP, this is the vibe that people speak of when comparing NYC to other cities. Hardly anywhere is going to have the 24hr life of NYC, but what makes NYC what it is not only the fact that its busy as hell during the day, but that vibrancy lasts all night. I just dont see that in Toronto quite yet, but hopefully it will change in the near future.
I visit various parts of downtown often and many parts have busy pedestrian traffic/vibrancy at night. The thing you have to take into consideration is that (as you say), you went the week of the biggest holiday of the year, and in the winter.

This year has been a really snowy and cold winter, and also there was a big ice storm that struck hundreds of thousands of people in the Toronto which resulted in power outages for as long as up to a week and a bit for some people. It was a big news story here. These things should have "taken away" some vibrancy in some parts.

But throughout the rest of the year when things are normal and the weather is better, for the most part there is tons of vibrancy which is getting better all the time. Especially west of downtown (King West, Queen West, Kensington, Ossington, Bloor W Village etc.) whenever I visit there I have rarely ever seen it "dead".

There are some new businesses, restaurants etc popping up here and there in the downtown area, but it varies depending where you go.
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Old 02-09-2014, 07:08 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Rubi3 View Post
I visited Toronto for the first and only time in the mid-sixties. It was as if I'd stepped back in time 30 years. So long ago, I'm sure it has changed more than I can imagine. Calgary in '04 didn't seem dated at all.
50 years ago? I'm sure it has changed since then.
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Old 02-09-2014, 09:05 PM
 
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Originally Posted by botticelli View Post
Not that I disagree with anything you said, but I believe festivals are overrated... I honestly don't think the number of festivals has any material impact on whether a city is interesting to live in, its charm and quality of life.

Toronto has many festivals, but most are uninteresting. Taste of Little Italy for example is totally underwhelming - I have been there - they are essentially selling average street food (most has nothing to do with Italy) for 150% of the normal price, with some street music and performance. I didn't enjoy it at all. Most of the food-related festivals end up offering underwhelming food for some reason, and for an escalated price it doesn't deserve. Just because it is on the day of Taste of Danforth doesn't mean a hotdog should be sold at $7 or an icecream for $5 (which is essentially the same as the $2 at Metro).

It would be more interesting if those festivals could hold some events that show people the background, culture of Italian food for example. A better way is to make some interesting food on the spot and let visitors see how they are made, or even have the opportunity to do it themselves - that will be fun and "cultural". Instead, all the vendors are just pre-made generic food like burgers, sausages, pastas for a higher price - it sounds to me more like an opportunity for them to make more money taking advantage of the festival and the large crowd than providing anything culture, and I am bored by it.

By festivals you need to show some real "culture", and involve people into something. For example, the Gay Parade is big too, but except for the repeated message of "pride", what does it really tell people including kids besides many gays like to wear flamboyant often too revealing clothing? Yes, it is a fun party, but in the end, it doesn't really instil people with any positive including tolerance. People love it just like they love Disneyland, and the event does little to bring the gay population any closer to average citizens. And it is the same old trick year after year. Doug Ford crudely said it is a show about "butt-naked men", but don't you think that's exactly the impression the parade leave people with? I myself didn't see much beyond that although I am very pro-gay rights.

Just my two cents. At least from my personal experience, I don't think Toronto's festivals made the city a lot more interesting.
I personally don't like events that get too crowded. When something is too big, I find the quality suffers and it just gets too commercial. I like things smaller/moderate sized with a focus on quality. I've been to smaller wine events in the Niagara region complete with live music and food stalls which I find more fun.

The truth is that the cultural aspect is probably secondary for many people. Many people, especially the young, just want to hang out in a lively atmosphere no matter what the theme and there's nothing particularly wrong with that. Plus events are still good representations of the city which help the local economy, tourism, and building an identity. The big festivals like Caribbana, Taste of the Danforth, and Pride illustrate the diversity of Toronto.

Every city will celebrate their roots/culture in different ways. For example, here in Boston some of the bigger events do have stronger cultural elements.

-St. Patty's Day (reflects the fact that 25-30% of the population has Irish decent, ok the whole city getting drunk is not that cultural )
-Independence Day (Taken to another level reflects the the fact that the US independence started in Boston, very patriotic event highlighted with the symphony)
-Harborfest (huge weeklong event in the summer with hundreds of events celebrating the American Revolution, I'd say this is a big cultural event with lots of learning opportunities)
-Boston Marathon (world's oldest organized marathon gets a lot of fanfare, not surprising given the cultural focus on athletics here)

After seeing some of this stuff, I think there is room in Toronto for an event focused on history because there are already huge events celebrating diversity. And I mean this constructively, I think it is important for the biggest city in the country to celebrate Canadian history somehow, which can potentially add more cultural elements.
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Old 02-10-2014, 06:54 AM
 
Location: Toronto, ON
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Originally Posted by botticelli View Post
Not that I disagree with anything you said, but I believe festivals are overrated... I honestly don't think the number of festivals has any material impact on whether a city is interesting to live in, its charm and quality of life.

Toronto has many festivals, but most are uninteresting...
I tend to agree with most of what you said. We were excited to attend a few of the festivals in Mel Lastman Square over the summer. What we found were generic streetfood vendors selling deep-fried low quality boring "foods"; booths for insurance companies, banks, etc, targeting that particular demographic; people handing out pamphlets and brochures only to those who "belonged" to the group being celebrated, etc. Some of the music and art was interesting, but we wanted to feel like we were transported to another world.

The feeling was not one of community inclusion and coming together, rather it felt like one group was having a party and everyone else was standing around watching. I attribute it to a bit of apprehension all around. People are generally cautious and reserved and not sure if it's ok to cut loose, especially when there is focus on one particular culture (no one wants to offend). That's why they need to make sure there is a beer garden at each festival

Agree about Pride. We went last year, and while I am no prude and do not mind public nudity, I'm not sure what a group of naked men walking down Yonge Street does to advance gay rights and awareness (yes, there was such a group). The best floats were the ones like the parents supporting their kids, LGBT cops and military, and other groups that showed the true diversity and strength of acceptance and the community. Those are positive messages that everyone can appreciate.
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Old 02-11-2014, 03:32 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Originally Posted by johnathanc View Post

The truth is that the cultural aspect is probably secondary for many people. Many people, especially the young, just want to hang out in a lively atmosphere no matter what the theme and there's nothing particularly wrong with that. Plus events are still good representations of the city which help the local economy, tourism, and building an identity. The big festivals like Caribbana, Taste of the Danforth, and Pride illustrate the diversity of Toronto.

.
I particularly agree with this point - only in Toronto will people complain about the fact that we have such a horrible thing as plenty of festivals from small to large scale international one's... I mean far better for us to have none and that we all just stay at home and lament about living in better places... I think its better we have them than not and just going out and about and enjoying yourself is better than staying at home knitting as it seems some in here would rather do...

While there may be some festivals that are less than stellar - it really does come with the territory of the city having sooo many of them. I personally love Luminato, Nuite Blanche and Buskerfest on top of the one's you mentioned and they certainly aren't second rate.. I haven't been to many of the ethnic one's but I am hard pressed to believe they all suck... even if some serve crappy food and hand out pamphlets and are exclusionary... heck maybe if people take off their stinky face, smile and let loose than the 'exclusionary' nature of them would be exactly the opposite

Last edited by fusion2; 02-11-2014 at 04:22 PM..
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