Friday, April 17, 2020

Cabbagetown Toronto

There is a small business district along Parliament Street.

Photos taken in October 2017

I thought Cabbagetown was charming, with very well-preserved Victorian houses.  Each small front yard was full of shrubs & trees. Riverdale Farm is at the eastern edge of Cabbagetown in Riverdale Park.  Both are worth visiting in Toronto. Cabbagetown is the largest continuous area of preserved Victorian housing in North America, according to the Cabbagetown Preservation Association.  I lived in San Francisco (in 2 Victorian houses) & the area filled with Victorian architecture is much larger, although perhaps not perfectly continuous.  I was disappointed with the limited extent of Cabbagetown, but it was quite charming.

The extent of Victorian architecture was once much greater.  But the neighborhood deteriorated as housing aged & it became one of Toronto's largest slums.  Much of the original Cabbagetown was razed in the late 1940s & replaced with housing projects.  I walked through an area of public housing along Parliament Street. It wasn’t decrepit or threatening, but dull & bleak, like much of the architecture of that period. The construction of large housing projects ended in the 1970s, as Cabbagetown began to gentrify.  Houses there are quite expensive now.

Cabbagetown was first established in the 1840s, as a suburb of Toronto. Its main thoroughfares were Parliament Street & Winchester Street. At the east end of Winchester Street, Playter’s Bridge linked developing areas east of the Don River to Toronto. Cabbagetown developed along those streets. One of Toronto’s oldest cemeteries (the Necropolis) opened on Winchester Street in 1850.

When Irish immigrants settled in Cabbagetown in the 1840s & 1850s, they often planting vegetables (especially cabbages) on the land around their homes. Cabbagetown was a derisive name used to mock that practice. Cabbagetown began to deteriorate in the early 20th century. Most of  Cabbagetown had been built by 1900. Significant decline came before the Depression.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Graffiti Alley Toronto

Photos taken in October 2017

I walked up Spadina Avenue from the waterfront to Graffiti Alley in the Fashion District. That was quite a sight. There was a huge amount of artistic graffiti, more than I had ever seen in one place. People were in the alley taking photos, or on photo shoots. Artists were making graffiti. It was a lively scene, which continued out onto West Queen Street.

Graffiti art was first legalized in Graffiti Alley.  Legalization was promoted by the Queen Street West Business Improvement Association. Property owners in the area didn't want to be compelled by the city to remove graffiti art. The Business Improvement Association pointed to the cultural significance of Graffiti Alley & its popularity with tourists. All of Rush Lane south of Queen Street West from John Street to Bathurst Street was designated as an area of municipal significance in the Graffiti Management Plan adopted by Toronto City Council in 2011.

Graffiti art & graffiti vandalism are different things in Toronto. Individuals &  businesses must remove graffiti vandalism on their property.  Graffiti art is planned & does not need to be removed. The City of Toronto defines graffiti vandalism as "One or more letters, symbols, figures, etching, scratches, inscriptions, stains, or other markings that disfigure or deface a structure or thing, howsoever made or otherwise affixed on the structure or thing, but, for greater certainty, does not include an art mural." Graffiti art is a "mural for a designated surface and location that has been deliberately implemented for the purpose of beautifying the specific location."