By the looks of it Shae's was enormous. Was it a theatre or a concert hall?
Shea's Hippodrome was one of the greatest vaudeville theatres ever built in Canada. It was the brainchild of Ontario-born Jerry and Michael Shea, famous theatre owners and builders who moved to Buffalo, New York and gained notoriety for designing spectacular theatres. In Toronto, prior to Shea's Hippodrome, they built Shea's Yonge Street and Shea's Victoria. The new Shea's would eclipse them both. Interestingly, the term Hippodrome, the Greek word for a horse racing stadium, eventually came to be used for large entertainment venues around the world. Located north of Queen Street, on Terauley Street (today Bay Street), Shea's Hippodrome was designed by Rochester New York firm L H. Lempert featuring a grand exterior with glass and copper domes that were illuminated at night. The front façade was finished in a decorative white brick design topped with the words Shea's Hippodrome that could be seen from a distance. In the centre of the façade was a copper marquee that advertised the acts for the night. When Shea's Hippodrome opened in April of 1914, it became not only the largest theatre in Canada but also one of the largest vaudeville theatres worldwide. In fact, the "Hipp" as it was known, was considered one of the big four vaudeville theatres in North America. As such, it featured some of the world's greatest acts including Etobicoke's very own O'Connor Sisters who once remarked that Shea's Hippodrome was their favoured theatre in the country. American actor Red Skelton who became a world famous comedian appeared at Shea's in the mid 1930's and once remarked "I really got started in a big way when I went to Shea's in Toronto." Inside was an elaborate auditorium with seats for some 3200 people. There were 12 grand opera boxes, an orchestra pit, decorative plaster mouldings on the ceiling and walls, and hundreds of lights that illuminated the space. Although initially built as a vaudeville theatre, Shea's, like many of its contemporaries, had to adapt to rapidly developing technologies in film including sound and technicolour. In addition to musical acts, theatre, acting, song and dance, Shea's featured films such as The Ten Commandments. Shea's Hippodrome was demolished in the late 1950's to make way for the development of New City Hall.
Thanks for the info' on Shae's. It sounds like it was akin to a 'Radio City'-type venue. Such a shame it is no longer there, though I'm not sure how it would be viable today anyway. Perhaps if a new theatre is ever built in Toronto it should be named 'Hippodrome' as a nod to this significant part of the city's theatre heritage.
From the air:
That last shot is mind blowing..
I can't even come close to picturing Roy Thompson Hall without Metro Hall right behind it..
And that enormous parking lot where the Ritz/RBC/Simcoe is now would be quite the task of finding your car at the end of the day..
One might say the walk-ability of our downtown has improved a bit?
... well it was definitely a hell of lot easier to find a parking spot.
I understand the Flatiron is now for sale (Globe & Mail, Oct. 6/11)
^^ I can't believe how Downtown Toronto has gone from a City of Parking Lots in the 60s-70s to a City of Skyscrapers today!
..yet in that same time-frame, Hamilton has gained more parking lots and lost more architectural gems.
Amazing the difference between the two cities, despite being so close.
Just shows which City's priorities were Pedestrians and which was the Car.
One should also remember that parking lots on the periphery of downtown were a deliberate planning policy as shown in these two excerpts from a planning report called "The Changing City" from 1959:
Last edited by thecharioteer; 2011-Oct-10 at 16:35.
Amazing there was a time when Detroit was an example of good urban planning (which it has never actually been, in fact)
Interesting to note from the last two paragraphs of the last page: "Small piece-meal development rarely gives any of the points of interest, eye-stoppers, or features with human appeal that make downtown unique and attractive. How can we solve this problem? We can give private developers the opportunity to carry out large scale development, and to produce a much more efficient, functional, and attractive form of building..."
I'm not sure if the author is just a hack, or if his intensions were good. Either way it's crazy to think that the block-busting developments that replaced vibrant, diverse streetscapes with monotonous, windswept no-man's lands were actually justified as efforts to create "points of interest, eye-stoppers, or features with human appeal".
One of the best illustrations of these drawings is the block bounded by Adelaide, Victoria, Lombard and Church, particularly since the resulting building (the former Federal Tax Building) looks eerily similar to Figure 3. Unfortunately, a number of significant buidlings got swept away in the process;
Last edited by thecharioteer; 2011-Oct-11 at 10:56.
Looking at old pictures of Adelaide and Toronto street always makes me want to cry.
It's also sad to think that the modernist ideal depicted in figure 3 is still the default mode of development these days (e.g. CityPlace). One of Jane Jacob's greatest insights, which I think anticipated a lot of social scientific thought, was that variation and diversity breed tenacity. Neighbourhoods with a diversity of different building types are better able to adjust to new social conditions, whereas "mono-cropped" neighbourhoods can be wiped out the moment their buildings fall out of favour. That insight is now applied to everything from job skills, to social networks, to agriculture.