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Tag Archives: King St. West

Impressions of the King St. Pilot Project

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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.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

              Books by the Author

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“ Lost Toronto”—employing detailed archival photographs, this recaptures the city’s lost theatres, sporting venues, bars, restaurants and shops. This richly illustrated book brings some of Toronto’s most remarkable buildings and much-loved venues back to life. From the loss of John Strachan’s Bishop’s Palace in 1890 to the scrapping of the S. S. Cayuga in 1960 and the closure of the HMV Superstore in 2017, these pages cover more than 150 years of the city’s built heritage to reveal a Toronto that once was.

 

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Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses. To place an order for this book, published by History Press:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

 

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“Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again” explores 81 theatres. It contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by |Toronto Life Magazine: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear 

 

 Toronto: Then and Now®

“Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21

 

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The Eclipse Building at 322 King St. West Toronto

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The Eclipse Building at 322-324 King Street West, on the northeast corner of John and King West.

The building that was constructed for the Eclipse White Wear Company at 322-324 King Street West, is on the west side of the Princess of Wales Theatre. This warehouse has an historic plaque on its southwest corner that commemorates the York Hospital, an early-day medical facility in the town of York, prior to it being incorporated as a city in 1834 and its name changed to Toronto.

After the military hospital at Fort York closed, following the War of 1812, the town was without a hospital. Funds were eventually secured and in 1824, a hospital was opened on the northwest corner of John and King Street West, adjacent to where the Eclipse White Wear Company warehouse was built almost a century later. TIFF’s Bell Lightbox is on the site today. The York Hospital was a modest two-storey, red-brick structure with space for about 100 patients. However, almost immediately it was requisitioned by the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada (Ontario) as a place to hold its sessions, as its premises had been destroyed by fire. 

After regaining the premises for medical purposes, the hospital continued to play an important role in the history of the city. During the summer of 1847, over 800 Irish immigrants disembarked from ships at the foot of Simcoe Street. They were a part of a mass migration from Ireland that fled their native isle to escape the poverty and disease caused by the failure of the potato crop during the summer of 1845. Many of them became infected with cholera during their long Atlantic voyage. Because the York Hospital was unable to cope with the number of ill patients, the city built “fever sheds,” as they were known, on the land surrounding the hospital. There were about a dozen of these sheds, each one over 70’ long and 25’ wide. The immigrants who were healthy were encouraged to leave the city as soon as possible as people feared they might be carriers of the disease. Those who were sick were treated either in the York Hospital or in the fever sheds. The sick were allowed to stay in the fever sheds for a maximum of 6 days, and fed three-quarters of a pound of meat and bread daily. Those who survived were sent to a convalescent home, located at Bathurst and Front Streets. Most of those who died were buried beside St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church at Queen and Power Streets. Bishop Michael Power died of cholera administering  to the sick, and was buried in St. Michael’s Cathedral. Note: most of this information was obtained from the historic plaques erected by Heritage Toronto on King Street West.

As mentioned, the Eclipse Building of today is located across the street from where the fever sheds had been erected. The four-storey Eclipse building, with a basement level that is partially above ground, was built in 1903 as a warehouse and factory for the manufacture of ladies and children’s underwear, or as they were known at the time—“unmentionables.” The building was designed by Gregg and Gregg, and has two-foot thick support walls with exceptionally thick structural timbers, able to withstand the heavy weight of the machines required to produce the finished products of cloth that the company manufactured and sold. The south facade of the Eclipse building is symmetrical, the windows on the fourth level having Roman arches. There are very few architectural adornments, although there is patterned brickwork below the cornice. However, any attractiveness that the building possesses is obscured by the white paint that covers its exterior walls. The building was renovated in 1970 by the firm of A. J. Diamond and Barton Myers. It remains today as one of the venerable industrial buildings on King West that has survived for over a century.

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The first-floor level of the Eclipse Building, with its impressive entrance that has supports that are a version of Doric columns.

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                  The south facade of the building, facing King Street West.

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                   Patterned brickwork beneath the plain cornice.

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     The impressive doorway with an elaborate version of Doric columns. 

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The Eclipse Building, with its south facade on King Street and its west facade on John Street. The Princess of Wales Theatre is to the east of the building. Photo taken 2013.

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To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

To view previous blogs about old movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It also relates anecdotes and stories from those who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

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   To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Theatres Included in the Book:

Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto

Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), thePhotodome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons

Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown

Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s

 Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede

Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression

Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro

Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years

University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)

 

To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

 

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The Reid Building at 266-270 King West

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There are several historic buildings on King Street West that will be demolished if the Mirvish Condo project is approved by the City of Toronto. The Reid Building at 266-270 King Street West is one of them. Located on the northeast corner of Ed Mirvish Way (a part of Duncan Street), the facades of the building are today covered with white-grey paint, which obscures the beauty of the bricks, wood and stone of which it is constructed.

The Reid Building is in reality three separate buildings, joined to create a single complex. The first building was constructed in 1904, and is on the corner of the intersection. It was built after the Great Fire of that year, which occurred on April 19, a bitterly cold spring night. Burning for over nine hours, it destroyed over 100 buildings in the downtown core. Though it did not spread as far as King Street West, the building codes instituted to prevent another such disaster, influenced the construction of the Reid Building. When completed, the Reid Building contained the most up-to-date fire prevention technology of the decade. The building was among the first of the warehouses that appeared on the north side of King Street. It was preceded by the Gillett Building at 276 King Street  (1901) and the Eclipse Whitewear Building (1903) at 322 King Street, farther to the west. 

In the first few decades of the 20th century, King Street was a prime location for businesses, since the home of the Lieutenant Governor was situated on spacious grounds on the southwest corner of King and John Streets. This site is today where the Roy Thomson Hall is located.  When the Reid Building was constructed, businesses were eagerly seeking building sites on this section of King Street, as they profited by being in the prestigious neighbourhood. Adding to the appeal of the neighbourhood was the opening of the Royal Alexandra Theatre in 1907. It was capable of seating almost 1500 theatre patrons and is today one of the oldest theatres in Canada in continuous use.     

The Reid Building was named after Alexander T. Reid, who financed its construction. He was the manager of the Featherbone Novelty Manufacturing Company, for which the building was constructed. It was situated on land that had formerly been Russell Square, the original site of Upper Canada College. The first structure that became part of the Reid Building, has massive brick pilasters, which are bricks that are raised on the facade to resemble pillars. They rise from the first-floor level to the unadorned cornice above the fifth storey. The pilasters segment the south facade into three distinct parts, the windows recessed between the various sections. There are five storeys, and a basement level that is partially above ground. The architect for the Reid Building was A. Frank Wickson, who is best known as one of the architects who designed the original Toronto Reference Library at 244 College Street, at St. George Street. The building is now the Koffler Student Services Centre of the University of Toronto.

In 1909, a second building was added to the north side of the Reid Building, on Ed Mirvish Way. Then, in 1913, another building was added to its east side, along King Street. The three separate building, with their Edwardian Classical styling, compose the complex that is today the Reid Building. They appear as a single structure as they are unified in design and detailing.  

In 1913, the year that the third building was added, the complex became the head offices for the McLelland and Stuart Publishing Company. However, following the Second World War, the area around King Street, where the Reid Building was located, declined as an industrial district. Seeking cheaper land prices, companies relocated further away from the downtown core. The Reid Building is presently owned by David Mirvish and is rented to various retail enterprises, the upper floors containing offices. 

It would truly be a pity to lose this excellent example of an early-20th century industrial warehouse.

Note: some of the information for this post was obtained from a City of Toronto Web site—Public Notice—Heritage Lands.

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The Reid Building on a frigid December day in 2013. The photo gazes east along King Street, a short distance west of Ed MIrvish Way, which is the south section of Duncan Street.

 

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The south facade of the 1904 section of the structure (left-hand side) and the 1913 addition (on the right-hand side). The windows differentiate the 1904 section from the 1913.

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Gazing north on Ed Mirvish Way, which is a section of Duncan Street. The west facade of the 1904-section of the Reid Building is in the foreground, and the 1909 section, is on the north side of it. 

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Detailed view of the windows of the Reid Building on the south facade that faces King Street. A row of dentils (teeth-like ornamentations) can be seen above the rectangular windows of the second and third floor (the bottom rows of windows in the photo). The windows on the fourth and fifth floors are separated into three sections, the top of the windows curved. 

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The south facade of the Reid Building viewed from inside Metro Hall, December 2013.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous blogs about old movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It also relates anecdotes and stories from those who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                      cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

   To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Theatres Included in the Book:

Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto

Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), thePhotodome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons

Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown

Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s

 Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede

Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression

Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro

Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years

University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)

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