Take Toronto’s stretch of Spadina Rd. from Bloor St. north to Davenport Rd. It could be one of the city’s grandest boulevards, compete with a castle at the end, but instead it’s a drab arterial, overbuilt with four lanes for traffic and sidewalks that are, like many in Toronto, all too narrow.
This part of Spadina has been in a kind of urban purgatory since plans were scrapped for the Spadina Expressway in 1971 that would have run in a massive ditch where Spadina is now, requiring the demolition of many homes. Despite this, there’s lots of potential.
Consider the cultural institutions on the street, like Alliance Francaise and the Spadina Theatre at Lowther Rd. As well, just north of Bloor is the Spadina Branch of the Toronto Public Library. Notice the Cree syllabics and “Mahsinahhekahnikahmik” written on the façade, which translates to “the lodge or place of the book.” Next door to the library is the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto in the former Ontario Bible College building. An enhanced Spadina could create a more prominent First Nations presence here.
Spadina is home to some impressive houses and buildings, lined as it is with nearly mansion-sized Victorian and Edwardian homes that have been carved up into multiple apartments. The upside is they provide much needed rental units, but many are in poor condition with squadrons of rubbish bins scattered out front. The Spadina Gardens apartment building at 41-45 Spadina Rd. is one of the most elegant in the city, a rare specimen from 1906, an era when Toronto didn’t build many residential buildings like this.
Old and new
Spadina, like the rest of the Annex, is blessed with mid-century modern apartment towers designed by Uno Prii, the Estonian architect who came to Toronto and designed space-age towers with swooping, elegant concrete curves. The Prii tower on the northwest corner of Spadina and Lowther has of late seen the addition of infill apartments on what was the underused lawn. It and a few other infill projects along thestreet have created a thicker urban fabric here.
Instead of the Spadina Expressway, Toronto opted for the Spadina subway and there is no station that embodies the spirit of the city’s robust and rather psychedelic 1970s expansion than does Dupont station. The two exits on the northwest and southeast corners are glass bubbles that lead down into the orange-tiled station with mosaics by James Sutherland called “Spadina Summer Under All Seasons.” Even the interlocking utility gates behind the northwest bubble are artfully designed by sculptor Ron Baird. Dupont station is further proof that on occasion Toronto can do public spaces with style.
Green Line Connection and Toronto Archives
North of the railway underpass Spadina intersects with the east-west hydro corridor that may one day be home to the Green Line, a linear park that is currently being championed by local residents and a “Friends of the Green Line” group. If that park goes ahead, a spruced up Spadina could create quite a nexus here as there’s green space on both sides of Spadina, a setback leftover from the planned expressway that never came. Here too are the Toronto Archives, the brain of Toronto if there ever was one, with its public gallery of rotating exhibitions and research hall.
Easy Related Posts
Downtown Railway track space could become Toronto’s ‘Central Park’
In toronto real estate, a bold new legacy park pitched by public officials for the ...read more
Toronto family is forced to live next to porta-potty for 2 years, Toronto city tells it can't help
In Toronto news, Lakshmi Kotra and his family have been living next door to a ...read more
Rise of Willowdale, Toronto's Hottest New Neighborhood - Part 1
Builders are always looking for bargains, so it caused quite a stir when a pleasant ...read more
Rise of Willowdale, Toronto's Hottest New Neighborhood - Part 2
“It’s pretty easy to understand why people are doing this — the economics are completely ...read more
Lower Speed Limits Are Posted In Some Toronto Neighborhoods
The Toronto neighborhood speed limits are going down from 40 km/h to 30 km/h. Posted speed ...read more
Toronto Named Hottest Luxury Real Estate Market In The World
TORONTO – High-end homes are being snapped up increasingly fast in Toronto, named the world’s ...read more