This week was the first public meeting for the revitalization of Berczy Park in the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood of Toronto. I wasn’t able to attend the meeting but, as a resident of the area, I am interested in the project and will be following.
In browsing through the project’s site, I came across an incredibly depressing photo of the St. Lawrence area from the 1970s. Here it is:
The empty greenish plot of land in the foreground is where Berczy Park sits today. The building at its point is the Flatiron Building, which is easily one of the most photographed buildings in the city.
What’s obviously remarkable about this image is just the sheer number of surface parking lots. There is no neighbourhood, really.
But even more depressing is the fact that all of this was seemingly deliberate. We tore down buildings to make way for all those parking areas. And that’s always upsetting. Here’s a photo of the same area in the 1920s (the Flatiron Building is at the bottom right):
It just goes to show how planning ideologies change.
But to our credit, look how far we’ve come since the 1970s. Today, the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood is one of the most vibrant downtown neighbourhoods. It’s become a model for mixed-income urban renewal – both here and abroad – and it continues to see strong investment.
So while we screwed it up before, we are making amends.