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King Street, gazing west from near John Street toward Peter Street, at 9:15 pm on Thursday, June 28, 2018. The shadows of evening are enveloping the fading twilight in the western sky.

Taking advantage of the lengthened daylight hours of the first week of summer, I set out to photograph King Street. I chose the section between Bathurst and Simcoe Streets, as this is the area where many restaurateurs have taken advantage of the extra space in the roadway created by the Pilot Project. There has been much controversy over the Project, which favours pedestrian and streetcar traffic over automobiles. My goal was to see for myself the impact of the Project on the street. The photographs that follow were all taken after 9 pm, when the sun was fading in the west and the lights of evening were increasingly emerging. The long twilight offered unique lighting conditions that exist at our latitude for only about two weeks each year.

As I strolled along, I noticed that ambiance of the street had changed greatly. Because it was relatively free of cars, it was quiet. Not dead, but quiet. People were embracing the street and the safety it provided, as the automobile traffic was greatly diminished. There were more cyclists than before the Project, due to the abundance of open space. The air was cleaner as exhaust fumes were reduced. Gone were the noise and chaos of traffic, and instead, people were relaxing and enjoying themselves. It was as if the hustle and bustle of city life no longer existed.

Dominating the evening air were laughter, lively conversations, the tinkle of wine glasses, and the clink of cutlery and dishes. Amidst the happy sound of human activity, the graceful new Toronto streetcars quietly glided past, their presence animating the scene. Similar to cities in Europe that I have visited—Rome, Paris, Barcelona, Athens, Lisbon—the traffic seemed to be only inches away from the tables, with their white tablecloths. No one seemed to be bothered by this phenomenon. However, in reality, there are almost five feet between the streetcars and the patios, providing sufficient space for cyclists to pass. It was a scene I had never before witnessed in Toronto. Was this really my city?

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The patio of Cibo restaurant on the northeast corner of Brant and King Streets.

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The north side of King Street from a short distance east of Brant Street, the patio operated by Cibo restaurant.

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I believe that this patio is owned by Patria. It is a short distance west of Spadina. I noticed that taxis have adjusted to the conditions imposed by the Project and are becoming more common on the street.

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                  The patio of Patria, viewed from its east side.

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Patio of Weslodge, near the corner of Spadina and King Street.

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Chairs provided by the City of Toronto. View gazes east on King Street toward Peter Street. These chairs are usually fully occupied by office workers during the lunch hour on weekdays.

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The south side of King St. opposite the Bell Lightbox, looking east toward John Street. Several restaurant have taken advantage of the space created by the Pilot Project to extend their patios into the roadway beyond the sidewalk.

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                  View of the same patios looking west toward Peter Street.

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Another patio on King Street to the west of John Street, the Bell Lightbox in the background.

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The Princess of Wales Theatre, view gazing east on King Street toward Duncan Street.

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The Royal Alexandra Theatre, in the foreground some of the chairs placed in the street by the City to reclaim a part of the roadway for pedestrians.

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A sculpture created by plastic cartons on which people can sit and watch the passing scene.

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This photo was taken at 9:35 pm, and though the chairs are enveloped in the shadows of evening, light remains in the eastern sky. The chairs face David Pecaut Park, on the east side of Metro Hall. These chairs are mainly occupied by office workers during lunch hours, Monday to Friday, rather than in the evenings or on weekends.

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People enjoying interactive art work on the south side of King Street, west of Simcoe Street. The pegs on the boards are used to create shapes.

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Someone has created the shape of a human body by employing the pegs.

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The Roy Thomson Hall at King and Simcoe Streets, at 9:40 pm on June 28, 2018.

 

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One thought on “Impressions of the King St. Pilot Project

  1. Loved reading about the SS Cayuga. In 1947 or 48 my Uncle worked for the Photoengravers in Toronto and every year his company gave a summer picnic for the workers and their families. They held it in Queenston Heights if my Memory serves me correctly. However we went there on the SS Cayuga. Can you imagine how exciting it was to cross Lake Ontario in the summers to go to that wonderful picnic on a ship. Donna Newson niece of Ken Priestman

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