Back in 2005 at the Design Exchange’s DigiFest conference, the above press release launched Reading Toronto. Ten years and twelve million visits later this site update celebrates what was Toronto’s first hyper-local, cultural blog. RT stopped publishing in 2008, but the archive remains active. The following stories are selected from some of Toronto’s most recognized cultural producers. They helped us understand our changing city.
We listened to the trains from our bed. Always your body next to mine, as the sound of that long shadow moved through its corridor of blackness, crossing the city. The trains cut through bedrooms and back yards, through heat and snow, sleep and sleeplessness. Often we were already awake and imagined the number of boxcars, and what they carried - as the months went by, ever more exotic cargo. We imagined all the towns brought into boom by the laying of the rails, all those that gradually vanished because the rails passed them by. . . Read More
Toronto today is a microcosm of Canada: a young, evolving cultural formation; heterogeneous, diverse, complex, open, and democratic. The city is bounded by Lake Ontario, and two rivers - the Humber River and the Don River. Toronto’s major nineteenth century institutions – including Old City Hall, the Connaught Building, the Grange– are all sited in green space “voids” and oriented to face south to the lake. A system of expressways ---Highway 427, the Gardiner Expressway, the Don Valley Expressway. . . Read More
First, Adrian got on the subway, opting to go deadhead for a faster load-time. He stepped into the sparkling cryochamber at the Downsview station, conjured a HUD against his field of vision, and granted permission to be frozen. The next thing he knew, he was thawing out on the Union station platform, pressed belly-to-butt with a couple thousand other commuters who'd opted for the same treatment. In India, where this kind of convenience-freezing was even more prevalent, Mohan had observed that the reason their generation was small for their age . . . Read More
“A guy got on the subway today”, Tom tells his wife Prim and a couple named Priti and David with whom they’re having dinner, “and he’s carrying this big white box, which clearly has a cake in it”.
“How did you know it was a cake?” Priti asks.
“It was a cake,” Tom says. “There’s a certain kind of bakery box, you know?”
“With bakery string”, adds Prim.
“Anyway, it’s rush hour. . . Read More
We moved to Ossington under duress. Middle Nineties we were escaping an evil landlord who had promised us massive renovations and delivered nothing but lies and excuses. Even so, territory west of Bathurst was unknown and Rachel was wary of the neighbourhood, dirtier than she was used to, and seemingly populated exclusively by groups of men loitering outside of pool halls. On the night before we had to decide if we would take the apartment, we hiked over around 11pm. The men cluster-stared as we passed. Wrappers strewn around the parking lot of the KFC across from our prospective . . . Read More
As architects, we must pay careful attention to, listen to, and observe how our many culturally and ethnically-diverse communities are contributing to the development of our surroundings. Our urban conditions and the associated architectural manifestations are developing in ways that are informal and often unplanned. If designers fail to consider these changes, then we will have missed valuable opportunities to contribute to the spatial qualities of our communities. The current situation of the suburban strip malls for example, represents a type of space. . . Read More
Toronto today is a microcosm of Canada: a young, evolving cultural formation; heterogeneous, diverse, complex, open, and democratic. The city is bounded by Lake Ontario, and two rivers - the Humber River and the Don River. Toronto’s major nineteenth century institutions – including Old City Hall, the Connaught Building, the Grange– are all sited in green space “voids” and oriented to face south to the lake. A system of expressways ---Highway 427, the Gardiner Expressway, the Don Valley Expressway, and Highway 401-the Macdonald-Cartier Trans-Canada Highway. . . Read More
Visiting Montreal seems to be a natural extension of Toronto. This visit I take the train, which really just seems like a long subway ride.
9:30am at Union Station, the place is so beautiful but the existence of Harvey’s as the main restaurant seems less than perfect. There should be a restaurant in the main foyer that Toronto wants to hang out at even if they are not taking the train. This must be one of the most under realized places in North America. I love being here. Run into Dave Porter. Porter is. . . Read More
John Lorinc has a provocative article in the May 2005 Toronto Life, in which he raises some important questions about what the provincial government's proposed "Places to Grow" legislation might mean for Toronto. A quote from the article: "The new rules... allow cabinet to trump local councils, including Toronto's, on fine-grain planning decisions—from waste management to community design.
"Leaner Pastures" (pp. 37-42) traces the recent history of provincial efforts to work on urban sprawl in Toronto. . . Read More
• Pollution and pesticides are a problem
• Flowers grown in many countries have no pesticide standards
• More pollution is caused flying the flowers here
• There are many flat-roofed warehouses and business buildings
• Flat roofs heat up horribly
• More pollution is caused cooling the buildings in the summer
• Green roofs cut down on cooling and heating costs and thus cut pollution. . . Read More
My graduate seminar this year investigates the theme "Architecture and Utopia." Every week we gather in a fluorescent-washed room, under a cheap suspended ceiling, on mismatched chairs, and discuss big urban dreams, the visions of sprawling hope. Cities transformed into vast Edenic gardens, with sweeping throughways and radial residential blocks as far as the eye can see. Cities razed and rebuilt in futuristic layers, with floating railways stations and razored, hundred-story office towers. Dreamy cities, with snaking flaneur-friendly walkways and arresting juxtaposed street-culture. We read Le Corbusier, Sant'Elia. . . Read More
We’re three years away from the grand (re)opening of the transformed Art Gallery of Ontario, and one could reasonably ask what New York’s Museum of Modern Art could teach us even from this chronological distance. Seizing the occasion of MoMA’s reopening in January after an $800-million plus expansion seemed an opportune time for our Board of Trustees to go and experience from the inside this great relaunching of the world’s greatest museum of modern art.
The new MoMA is really the first great building since 9/11, and being there we had a very real sense. . . Read More
I moved to Toronto in the summer of 1990. I'd spent three years at a Quaker Liberal Arts college in Richmond, Indiana (pop. 39, 124 souls).
For the first couple of months I lived in the basement of hospitable family friends at Eglinton & Oriole Parkway. After a lazy summer-long apartment search, I found a biggish one bedroom on Queen W. & Ossington, right above a hip used record store and right across the street from the Queen St. Mental Health Centre (just in case the grad school thing went squirrely) . . . Read More
The first film I can ever remember seeing was projected on to an outdoor screen in a dusty village in Pakistan. It was a Charlie Chaplin film where he ate his boot and was pursued by a bear in a frosty Yukon setting. Ever since then the movies have always been associated in my mind with the theatres in which I saw them. I have forgotten most of their names, but my brother and I laughed loudly and conspiratorially at the Jerry Lewis and Norman Wisdom films we saw as children in Ottawa at the old Capitol Theatre. I can also vividly remember the two of us seeing "The Longest Day" in a plush west end London cinema . . . Read More
Many people believe that the Internet makes the city obsolete because it allows businesses to remove themselves from the congestion of urban living. After all, money no longer needs banks and mail is something we send more with the press of a computer button than we do by walks to the post office.
Cities have proven to be resilient though. In fact, rather than undermining the need for common social spaces, the Internet and more recently cell phone messaging have intensified the city. An unimagined relationship between the city and new communications technologies is evolving. . . Read More
Strolling by the empty triangle lot with my 3 year old, week after week. I’m at home raising a child while my friends and classmates are becoming architects in the city. When I meet them I wonder if I’m capable of adult or even relevant architectural conversation. I was one of them once, but something happened. After graduating in architecture from Waterloo University, I worked as a construction labourer, a carpenter, a lumber sales clerk and freelanced for various architects but could not settle in one place.
I remember two key anecdotes which coincided with this point in my life and architectural journey . . . Read More
On June 13, 2005, Mayor Miller announced that 2006 is Toronto's "Year of Creativity." We can only hope that it doesn't look anything like 2005. Toronto's "Beautiful City" initiative has attempted to ban community postering and enact an anti-graffiti law that is threatening to white-wash some of the best examples of creativity in the city. The new bylaw could force property owners to remove graffiti from the sides or back of their building, regardless of whether or not residents in the community see it as art and don't mind it being on their walls. City staff insist that the graffiti community. . . Read More
Montrealers have often said that Toronto is a city of bankers, devoid of (mont)real playfulness and any truly fun or spirited art and culture.
But that was before ``The Heart of the City'' was created. And it says something wonderful about this city when the main centerpiece at the ``Heart of the City'' (Dundas Square) is a splashpad peppered with 600 ground nozzles that rise and fall in a playfully teasing way, that fills us with youthful energy, whether we choose to frolic in the water, or just sit and read our newspaper near the Fountain of Youth . . . Read More
We work in the Entertainment district, the multivalent area bounded loosely by University and Bathurst/Queen and King Streets. It is part of an area that has been for a long time predominantly commercial, initially a result of the railway being built at its southern edge in the latter half of the 19th century. The district runs 24 hours a day, in shifts of different demographics and purpose; it is a three dimensional puzzle of spaces and use that has gotten denser in the past few years with new condominiums and boutique hotels. The (sometimes chaotic) volume of people here at any given time . . . Read More
A month’s work culminates in a crazy day. I should have slept last night, had something other than beer for lunch, but maybe it’s all in the name of momentum. Getting ready for the opening, getting ready for leaving and I realize that it’s become normal to live in a hotel, to sew in 12 hour shifts, to have cable. There’s not really time to think about any of this, or the people I’m going to miss and maybe it’s better like that. A blaze of glory (?) or whatever my version would be called. It’s two in the morning and everything’s. . . Read More