Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Above eye level

I took a walk along Queen Street West with my camera a couple of weeks ago, on one of the first really warm days in a while. It went up to 16C, the first jacket-free day of the year!

One of the things that fascinates me about Toronto is the above eye level streetscape, the architectural details of second and third stories of the buildings dating from the mid to late 1800s.

These photos were all taken in the Parkdale area of Queen Street. Click on a photo to see it in more detail.

In one block there is a Franciscan monastery and a convent. Sometimes you see the Franciscan friars on the street, wearing long brown robes with a rope for a belt. One of the friars has an earring. They serve dinner every day to street people. They also used to run the foodbank that I volunteered at last winter, but for various reasons they no longer do that.

I don't know too much about the convent, I've never seen the nuns on the street. Or maybe they don't wear anything special and I just haven't noticed them. The Our Lady of Loretto sign marks the entrance to the convent, which is on the upper two stories of the building.

When I was taking a picture of one building, there was a utility truck parked in front of it with some of the workers taking a break. One of them saw me photographing and waved for the camera.

He shouted for me to take another photo and hammed it up for the camera. Nobody else paid any attention.

I just find these buildings fascinating.

The street level can look quite grungy, especially now that the cigarette butts are emerging from the melted ice and snow. You can't smoke inside the many bars and restaurants, so smokers leave their butts on the sidewalks in front of these establishments.

But you look up and you see amazing details in the brickwork, stained glass windows, towers, cornices and more as far as the eye can see.

These pictures are just from my immediate neighbourhood, they get even better as you head east toward the centre of the city.


20th Century Woman said...

The pictures are wonderful.

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

These buildings are beautiful. Enjoyed the walk with you.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you 100% here! I just love old buildings and structures like the ones you have captured here. You can certainly see the 19th century architecture in all of them.

As we speak they are currently tearing down a whole city block in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas of buildings built around the turn of the 19th century. Its so sad because they were such a part of my growing up. It's as if they are trespassing on hallowed ground.

Steven said...

Great photos. And the graffiti is awesome!

Zabetha said...

Hey thanks all for the comments! I was thinking this was going to be boring, so I actually sat on it for a week before publishing. Glad to hear other folks love these old buildings too!

Vancouver, where I used to live, is a wonderful beautiful city with ocean and mountain vistas and year-round green parks and gardens. In Toronto, the beauty is in the built environment, the old buildings. A little more subtle and often overshadowed by the colourless winters and springtime grunge, but it's there. And it's part of what I love about this city.

I like that big graffiti mural too, it's right by the library, so I see it several times a week. There's another one nearby, I'll post a photo of it shortly.

Anonymous said...

Count me in with those who appreciate the craftsmanship of old buildings and the interesting architecture to be found if you look - or look up!

Thanks for sharing these wonderful pictures, Anne.