From Hogtown to Pan-Am City - Toronto’s Transformation to the Future
The heat is building. Summer 2015 all eyes will be on Toronto’s Pan Am Games, and Toronto itself! As the host city for guests from the entire Western Hemisphere, and the world, we’re building new facilities to showcase our city to the world.
Toronto’s goal goes far beyond the games: to transform and revitalize our city for a new era.
The Riverside, East and West
The Queen Street Bridge over the Don River is the historic eastern gateway to the Old Town of Toronto. Stand on this bridge and look around you. In each direction you see signs of transformation.
Immediately west, the startling 16-storey tower with graceful curving elevat ion is River City, Phase I. It’s the first completed building in the West Don Lands as part of the Pan Am Games Athletes’ Village in fourteen short months.
To the east, new towers along Queen Street lead to newly vibrant street life of Riverside, Leslieville, the Beaches and beyond. Transformation is everywhere you look.
While these transformations sweep away some historical landmarks, let’s remember and embrace Canadian history and Toronto landmarks founded on both sides of the river.
The Old Embraces the New
From the Queen Street Bridge to the northwest you see a new condominium in an elegantly restored 1850s-era brewery building.To the southwest behind River City, you see a hive of construction and a surprising new park – Corktown Common.
Further in the distance are the towers of the Distillery District. This arts and culture destination has grown up near some of the most historic features of Old Town Toronto, including the “First Parliament” site.
Toronto is reinventing itself here at the gateway to the east – Queen Street Bridge. The bridge’s memorable art installation, “Time: and A Clock”, by Eldon Garnet, reminds us of the constant certainty of constant change.
In this issue of Beaches Living Guide we’re exploring the transformation of our city. We’re drawn to three transformations that are still playing out today.
Innovation Defines Us – Our Many “Firsts”
The first transformation is the founding of modern Toronto – first known as York – in the protected wilderness harbour starting in 1792.As we dig foundations for new buildings, we’re digging up remnants of this past. We’re also encountering Toronto’s many “firsts”, including a first destination for people seeking freedom from oppression on the “Underground Railroad” – the “freedom train” for black refugees from American slavery.
The second transformation is the transition to Toronto, the industrial capital of central Canada, during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Reminders of this dynamic era persist in the imposing restored buildings of Berkeley Castle, Canadian Stage and Canadian Opera Company.
We’ll explore several eye-opening innovations that define our city’s character from the industrial era. A few steps from the Queen Street Bridge, Torontonians earned our city its nickname, Hogtown, and perfected a “peameal” bacon delicacy. A few steps in another direction, Torontonians “branded” professional sports with an advertising slogan for “so clean” Sunlight soaps.
These are just two of many Toronto firsts we’ll discover!
Heritage Preservation Engraved Throughout our City's Transformations
The third transformation is what we are experiencing today, every day: coming, going and detouring construction on our daily routines in Toronto’s east end. Revitalization, growth and a new spirit is everywhere, even in the old industrial heart of the city.
Toronto is in the grip of reimagining our space and rebuilding our landscapes. As we do so, we are inevitably losing some bits and pieces of our past. If we look deeply at the heritage that remains, we’ll preserve not just some building façades here and there. We will look back into the inclusive, innovative heart of our civic traditions. We’ll rebuild in a way that honours the past and honours every thread of diverse tradition that lies at the core of the Toronto we imagine for the next hundred years.
Join us on the Queen Street Bridge as we look to the Pan-Am 2015 celebration as a bridge –a bridge from the city we were to the city we will be!