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Toronto's Forgotten Landmarks: Bank Of Toronto at 205 Yonge Street

The derelict Bank of Toronto at 205 Yonge Street had always struck me as an architectural anomaly. Built in 1905 of Lennox design, the austere neo-classical facade always seemed to me a sad symbol of modern decay.

Several years ago, long before the current economic crisis, a visiting friend asked me why there were two massive abandoned banks across the street from one of Toronto's most popular malls - the only answer I could give at the time was "well, there used to be three?"

Gears are finally in motion to redevelop this magnificent piece of Toronto history, which started a few years back when a visiting Irish entrepreneur fell in love with the spot, co-purchased the property, and proudly flew his native flag above the main entrance.

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For those of you wondering about the bizarre 'parkette' between this bank and its sister, it used to be a bar called 'The Colonial Tavern' until the 1970s, when it was leveled . Also of note is the seemingly anachronistic wheelchair ramp to the buildings south - an appendage added to the edifice during Heritage Toronto's occupancy of the site, which lasted from 1992 until as recently as 2001.

Many of you will recognize the beautiful main arcade/atrium of the building, as it featured prominently in the television series Flashpoint recently - a show with an odd fondness for many of my usual haunts...

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The Bank of Toronto itself was founded in the late 1850s, with its

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original location being farther East, on Church St...

Sadly, the beautiful dome on the roof of the old bank is a fake, as my visit to the top floor revealed...

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Yonge street intervenes on a very telling conversation between 205 and its modern surroundings; it appears that the shadow of annihilation rests in and on every building, old and new alike. In a very Hegelian moment, Paul Virilio once noted that "you could say that architecture is nothing but the art of making ruins."

(To see the rest of the photos from this set, as well as high-res. versions of the ones above, please visit my flickr slide-show below.)


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