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Evocative Images of Lost Toronto

Goldie

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Toronto waterfront -1966 -TPL
Toronto waterfront 1966 TPL.jpg
 

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Goldie

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Toronto Harbour looking E. from roof of Roofers Supply Co. Bay St. -1907 -TPL
Toronto Harbour 1907 looking E. from roof of Roofers Supply Co. Bay St. 1907 TPL.jpg
 

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steveintoronto

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What a dire looking place.

What’s worse: dire or sterile? That area might be more vibrant now, but it sure looks awful.
I thought same initially. It's a very interesting point, and this is hardly the first Black and White that's left me with this impression. Many from prior to this even look even more stark and harsh.

So I stared at that pic to figure out the context without colour. First off, the Islands are a huge swath of green, but that's not apparent, I first realized that after thinking "that must be Winter time", as I agree with both your impressions. But the foliage is thick and lush.

So where else is there foliage that isn't being realized? I have a distinct memory of the early Sixties, and going up to the top of the Commerce Building in Toronto with my 'grandad' visiting from the UK, a family that loves their gardens and houseplants, and his remarking "what a carpet of green Toronto is"...and indeed, you couldn't clearly discern the blocks for the trees in most all directions, including looking south across the rail lands.

f1244_it31811-1930.jpg

https://tayloronhistory.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/f1244_it31811-1930.jpg

I look forward to your responses, as I'm often troubled by exactly your impressions: "How did we survive life back then?". And we had it easy! It was the gens before us...*for the most part* that had it hard....Or did they?

And yet imagine what it must have been like arriving in London, New York City, Paris, Berlin etc in the Twenties. For someone reasonably well-off, it must have been Nirvana! The cities of the future!

And then the Thirties hit.

So getting back to that pic...any further impressions? Same on a second look? Again, I really don't know what to think, save that pictures can lie. And Black and White can be so detailed, it lies in not being coloured.
 
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lenaitch

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What a dire looking place.

In addition to 'Steve's' comments about B&W photos - which most people aren't used to looking at these days - that "dire" appearance is the look of industry, which Toronto used to run on. A railyard full of rolling freight stock, parking lots full of vehicles and ships at the wharves.
 

steveintoronto

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In addition to 'Steve's' comments about B&W photos - which most people aren't used to looking at these days - that "dire" appearance is the look of industry, which Toronto used to run on. A railyard full of rolling freight stock, parking lots full of vehicles and ships at the wharves.
That is one huge aspect! There's real irony in the Bank of Commerce building being called that. First off, I'm pleased I managed to post such a stunning picture. I was just staring into it again when I noticed your post.

What's behind it? A Sea of Green! And yet if you weren't looking for that, it would be completely missed. Edward and Sky Blue make perfectly valid points. But is it the complete picture we're looking at?

And if it is, then I'm back to wondering "How did we survive in such a harsh environment?". It's a bit like viewing the world through a polarized lens. Is the picture 'complete'? Yes and no. It can be more complete in seeing what you want to see, but incomplete in blocking a whole other polarity of realization.

I'm seized to edit what I just wrote, but something tells me to leave it. Sometimes one says more than what was intended. Are Rorschach Blots polarized?
 

Goldie

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Edward: "What a dire looking place."

For those of us who remember (as youths) the 1950s and 60s, the Toronto waterfront was a place of joy and adventure.
When we went there to board a ferry to the Islands, it was in anticipation of the unique boat trip to a strange land.
And trips to that part of Toronto were necessary in order to enjoy a baseball game at Maple Leaf Stadium or the CNE Stadium -------great fun!
Of course, we only saw the waterfront from ground level, unlike that aerial image.
I don't think we took any notice of the RR yards and tracks as we went thru the underpasses to the water's edge.

And, by the way, I think that area of Toronto is even more exciting today because of the tremendous changes that have taken place.
Am I the only one who is pleased by modernity?
 

steveintoronto

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I don't think we took any notice of the RR yards and tracks as we went thru the underpasses to the water's edge.
Actually I did! I was absolutely intrigued by the roundhouses and the endless trains coming and going to places unknown. They were days of fascination and wonderment, but the question of whether 'things were better or not' endures.

Am I the only one who is pleased by modernity?
I get the impression that "what a dire looking place" is referenced to how it looks today, so a faith in 'modernity' seems to be in the majority.

It's a vital debate/discussion though....and *Evocative*! I'm sure the carbon content of the air is many times better now, but that too may be presumptive.
 

Goldie

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Yes, the air is a lot cleaner today because of the disappearance of coal-burning RR steam engines.......
and will improve even more if and when we go all electric on the rails.
The preservation of the roundhouse was a great idea and the surrounding RR museum (with the old Don Station) are a delight to behold.
I can't get over that amazing "canyon" that we experience today, on the Gardiner, as we find ourselves surrounded by so many huge, towering condos.
 

Northern Light

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Actually I did! I was absolutely intrigued by the roundhouses and the endless trains coming and going to places unknown. They were days of fascination and wonderment, but the question of whether 'things were better or not' endures.

I get the impression that "what a dire looking place" is referenced to how it looks today, so a faith in 'modernity' seems to be in the majority.

It's a vital debate/discussion though....and *Evocative*! I'm sure the carbon content of the air is many times better now, but that too may be presumptive.


I'm just old enough to remember the old railway lands intact. My first memories of downtown are of Roy Thomson Hall under construction and the tracks still crossing Front Street on an angle and running right up to the limits of that construction site.

The construction, the first and least of Toronto's recent booms was awesome to a young boy, but as someone older who remembers his model train fondly, and now more values lost architecture and variety of built form, I can more fully appreciate what was lost.

Much has indeed been gained in modernity and one would willfully blind to fail to acknowledge progress, both social and civic.

But that doesn't mean that all that come w/modernity has been good or that all that was lost to the past isn't worthy of remembrance or might not have had something to contribute in current times.

As but one example, there were better uses for much of the land than railway yards; but it was an unfortunate decision not to leave connecting track between the mainline and the roundhouse.
 
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Goldie

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A Few of the Young Easterners Who Left Union Station to Aid in the Rich Harvests on the Prairies -1923 -TPL
A Few of the many Young men Who went to the Harvests on the Prairies 1923 TPL.jpg
 

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