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What Liberty Village looked like before the condos

Posted by Derek Flack / February 17, 2012

Liberty Village Toronto HistoryFor all the development that's shaped Liberty Village over the last decade or so, the area's industrial past retains something of a ghostly presence — at least if one confines himself to exploring the western half of the neighbourhood. The eastern end, leading in across the still new-feeling East Liberty Street from Strachan Avenue, on the other hand, remains a source of angst for heritage preservationists who lament this city's near-complete contempt for 19th and early 20th century industrial architecture.

Once home to the mighty Inglis factory — a key player in the local war movements of the previous century and a major manufacturer of the Bren light machine gun — the area is marked by a pseudo-suburban housing development that is as cold as it's removed from its important place in this city's history. Artist Gene Threndyle, writing in John Martins-Manteiga's solemn rhapsody for Toronto's lost modern heritage, Endangered Species, probably offers the best summary of the preservationist's view in saying that this new neighbourhood "does everything wrong."

With the exception of the old chapel from the former Central Prison, this section of current day Liberty Village was completely razed in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It's this tension — between the old industrial warehouses that played host to an IT boom that paved the way for the renewal of the area and the condo-based developments that continue to this day — that got me curious about the history of the site.

Before it was an industrial hub, what's now called Liberty Village was home not only to the previously mentioned Central Prison, but also the Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women. According to Mike Filey in Toronto Sketches 6, it was these institutions that gave birth to the main strip's name. Liberty "was the street upon which reformed prisoners set foot when they'd served their time," he explains. The former jail was demolished in 1915 save for two buildings, while the latter was abandoned in 1969 after a reports of substandard conditions were brought to a grand jury. Lamport Stadium, which still occupies the site was built in 1974.

John Inglis Factory TorontoAs was the case with West Queen West to the north, the decline of industry led to the arrival of small population of artists in the 1980s. Attracted to the low rents and and warehouse buildings, they remained until the mid 1990s or so.

According to a report from the University of Toronto's Centre for Urban and Community Studies, "municipal deregulation of land uses in the King Street West area in 1994 contributed to the attraction of the area for developers and real estate speculators...Many small businesses and low-income tenants were evicted to allow property owners to renovate their buildings. The deregulation of zoning bylaws had increased the pressure to redevelop industrial lands and put planners under constant pressure to allow the conversion of old industrial buildings for residential or office use."

And that's when the redevelopment of the area went boom. By the mid 2000s most of the Inglis buildings were gone, following the destruction of the Massey Ferguson site on King West a few years earlier. A small group of heritage enthusiasts tried to save the industrial character of the eastern end of Liberty Village, but they didn't stand much of a chance given the value of the property in question and the incentives developers had to build residential properties.

What remains now is a thoroughly mixed neighbourhood that lacks the historical identity of something like the Distillery District, but has nevertheless escaped the complete destruction of industrial heritage experienced by its neighbours to the north and northeast.


2012214-Liberty-Dufferin-east-1915.jpgLiberty Street, 1915

2012214-King-West-Subway-1915.jpgKing West subway, 1915

2012214-Ariel-South-End-Dufferin-1920.jpgAriel view of King West and Liberty Village

2012215-Curtiss-aeroplanes-workers-1926-f1244_it4537.jpgCurtiss Aeroplane plant, Strachan Avenue

2012216-central-prison-yard-1926-f1231_it0864.jpgCentral Prison Yard, 1926

2012216-central-prison-yard-massey-harris-1926-s0372_ss0079_it0123.jpgCentral Prison Yard and Massey Ferguson Buildings (right), 1926

2012214 - Gary Blakeley - Inglis at night.jpgInglis factory at night, 1940s (via Gary Blakeley)

2012214-Library Archives-Baseball.jpgBaseball game women workers, 1940s (via Archives Canada)

2012217-VeronicaFoster-RonnieBrenGunGirl-smoke.jpgVeronica Foster, Bren Gun Girl, 1940s (via the Wikimedia Commons)

2012214-Gary Blakeley -War Workers.jpgWar workers, 1940s (via Gary Blakey)

2012214-Gary Blakeley-War worker.jpgCompare to shot from 1990s (via Gary Blakeley)

2012215-cental-prison-chapel-1953-TPL.jpgCentral Prison Chapel, 1953 (via Toronto Public Library)

2012215-Liberty-Street-70sor80s-s1465_fl0037_id0030.jpgLiberty Street, late 1970s

2012215-off-liberty-70s-80s-1465_fl0037_id0022.jpgOff Liberty Street, late 1970s

2012215-liberty-street-1970s-s1465_fl0037_id0024.jpgLiberty Street, 1970s

2012215-liberty-street-1970s-s1465_fl0037_id0019.jpgCompare to 1915 photo above

2012215-Liberty-Street-1970s-s1465_fl0037_id0021.jpgLiberty Street and Jefferson Avenue, 1970s (the buildings on southeast and west corners still stand)

2012215-Libert-Street-west-1970s-s1465_fl0037_id0023.jpgLiberty Street looking west, 1970s

2012215-dufferin-liberty-1970s-s1465_fl0037_id0037.jpgDufferin & Liberty streets, 1970s

2012215-strachan-north-80s-s1465_fl0037_id0025.jpgStrachan Avenue looking towards King Street, 1980s

2012215-inglis-early-1980s-s1465_fl0037_id0038.jpgStrachan Avenue and Inglis factory, 1980s

2012216-parkdale_aerial2.jpgAerial view, 1980s (Photo by Eugene D. Burles via Trainweb)

2012214-hannah-liberty-1990s.jpgFoot of Hannah Avenue, Inglis Complex 1990s

2012214-inglis-1990s-height.jpgInglis Warehouse rooftopping, 1990s

2012214-irwin-toys-1990s.jpgIrwin Toys (now the Toy Factory Lofts), 1990s

2012214-liberty-village-1-1990s.jpgApproaching Irwin Toys, 1990s

2012214-central-prison-chapel-lv-early 90s.jpgCentral Prison chapel, 1990s

2012214-Collations- Strachan Ave Rail Line.jpgStrachan Ave, old Inglis factory (Collations)

2012214-Collations-Strachan Ave.jpgOff Strachan Avenue (Photo by Patrick Cummins)

2012214-martinho-inglis-1992.pngInglis plant, 1992 (Photo by Martin Reis)

2012216-east-liberty-street-2003.jpgThe birth of East Liberty Street, 2003 (Photo by Christ Smart)

2012214-sigma-Inglis Warehouse.jpgTransition time, 2005 (Photo by Chris Smart)

2012214-Axel-AR Williams Factory.jpgEast Liberty Street, 2006 (Photo by Alex Luyckx)

Liberty VillageLiberty Village, 2009 (Photo by Stephen Sokolov)

2012216-liberty-tom.jpgLooking west across Liberty Village, 2010 (photo by Tom Ryaboi)

2012216-liberty-recent.jpgConstruction continues, 2012 (Photo by Toronto.Pictures)

Photos from the Toronto Archives unless otherwise noted



AV / February 17, 2012 at 03:39 pm
I miss what King West or "liberty village" used to look like back when Industry was still open. *sigh*

And now? Just a sea of lifeless condos....
W. K. Lis / February 17, 2012 at 03:40 pm
Unfortunately, the high-paying construction jobs will not last as they move on. No factory jobs (those are now in that workers' paradise in China) just lower-paying jobs retail stores, maintenance workers or nannies, or in home offices.
Johnny Tronno / February 17, 2012 at 03:44 pm
Great piece. Gotta love the photos from the past. Gives us a perspective and hopefully encouragement to preserve it rather than bulldoze it.

Derek: The first caption should be 'bombs or shells' as noted in the photo. There is an 'or' in between questioning the cylinders piled up.
Lost / February 17, 2012 at 04:04 pm
Ahh... Veronica Foster - interesting woman. Google her for all who's interested. She was the precursor to Rose the Rivetor. There's lots of great images of her online.
James / February 17, 2012 at 04:04 pm
Thank you so much for this! I live in one of the soul-less condos that now occupy Liberty, with a great view of the west. These pics will really help me the next time I glance over the 'Village'
Ay Vee / February 17, 2012 at 04:06 pm
I miss when life was so real, mannnn. People used to be so true! Now life is just so lifeless.
Derek replying to a comment from Johnny Tronno / February 17, 2012 at 04:10 pm
I've removed that reference in favour of letting the archival caption do the work. Thanks.
Benedict / February 17, 2012 at 04:14 pm
All of a sudden you are nostalgic for a time you had no interest in before things changed. That's called "fake" and it's what Torontonians are reviled for nationwide, so get over it!
cynic / February 17, 2012 at 04:16 pm
This was the City's first brownfield conversion project, no? It will be interesting to see if there will be higher rates of cancer reported there in the future.
AV / February 17, 2012 at 04:19 pm
The past was so awesome though!!! *

* (for white heterosexual men who were rich only)
Frown / February 17, 2012 at 04:21 pm
This is great example to show people how to ruin the city. Think a sec and assume that all those condos are occupied. In that small area there will be appr 5-6K people living. only street that connects to main artilleries is Liberty Street, which is 2-lane roughly 15m wide. Good luck of getting out of garage or walking on sidewalk. Ridiculous!
pd / February 17, 2012 at 04:25 pm
Hey everyone! Let's look at a handful of interesting photos and start to bicker about hipsters and industry and white men versus everyone else! Funsies!!
Idontevenlikeguns / February 17, 2012 at 04:26 pm

That picture of Veronica Foster, Bren Gun Girl, is stunning!
XY / February 17, 2012 at 04:28 pm
Female baseball!

How cute.
James replying to a comment from Frown / February 17, 2012 at 04:29 pm
I wouldn't agree with your statement that it's "ruining the city" per say, but I would agree that this is prime a example of Toronto's poor city planning. Traffic is already a sh!t show there (especially during the 5pm rush) and the area isn't even fully occupied yet.
fit / February 17, 2012 at 04:31 pm
blah blah blah, history, blah blah blah.

place was a dump back then.
place will be a dump again in 20-30 years.

Cyclical kids, cyclical.
I miss industry!!! / February 17, 2012 at 04:35 pm
JUST KIDDING! I would never want to work one of those jobs. Anyway who wants to touch my beard at Three Speed later?
attitude / February 17, 2012 at 05:15 pm
Looks good mang
Daniel / February 17, 2012 at 05:21 pm
So it's always been an ugly blight on the city?
James Powell / February 17, 2012 at 06:14 pm
Hanna Ave, not Hanna Street.

77, been there a few times...

There were a bunch of neat studio's and suchlike in the western edge of it in the late 1980's. I know it wasn't doors open, but we went down there I think in 89, and went through a bunch over a weekend. I know we went into a recording studio (I'd think something like 53 Hanna Ave, not sure). My friend had a job @ the ice cream factory just on bathhurst, same sort of time frame. (88, because I have my 89 TTC bus pass, but not my 88 one, and I got booted off the streetcar & had to walk home...evil driver!)

simuls / February 17, 2012 at 06:35 pm
Why would a condo be any more soul-less than a house? I just don't get people who are continually negative about the very thing that is keeping this city afloat. The only reason house owners haven't had 50-100% increases in their property taxes over the past 5-7 years can be summed up in one word - condos. Over 100 000 of them - all taxed at the same rate as a house - of which very few to almost zero are being built in the core anymore. Wanna know why crime is down in People on the streets constantly shopping, getting coffee, meeting friends, going to movies, theatre, etc. - not effective police work. Condos are environmentally friendly living, use way less resources than a house, and provide for a much denser neighbourhood that will support local business and transit/pedestrian use. It's stunning how completely ignorant most people are about this. Stunning.
morga replying to a comment from simuls / February 17, 2012 at 06:59 pm
mike in parkdale / February 17, 2012 at 09:17 pm
great pics of a fascinating area. I worked in Liberty Village from the late 90's until this past summer, and while this is certainly after the industry gave way to high tech jobs, there were some amazing pockets left. I'm not going to make a judgement on if it was better then or now.... but I will say that I wish I bought real estate right int he core of the place 20 years ago.
Dai Anto / February 17, 2012 at 09:44 pm
Old enough to remember the steam trains. They were magnificent.
The Other Neil replying to a comment from cynic / February 17, 2012 at 10:26 pm
Wouldn't the first Brownfield in Toronto be a development somewhere along the railway lines? That would have been my guess.

Anyway, it definitely would be interesting to see what the stats are of those in 20 years from now. I love the area personally...then and now.
scott / February 17, 2012 at 10:39 pm
love these old pics! totally awesome!
Lee replying to a comment from fit / February 17, 2012 at 11:18 pm
I agree with you, it was an industrial, dirty + dumpy place to be, the air stunk. Not a place you wanted to hang out in, kinda dangerous at night. You only went there to work + then leave, go somewhere else, fast. The other side of it...there were jobs.
sassafrass / February 18, 2012 at 02:59 am
Such great pics. I worked at the LIFT film co-op in the mid 90s and had heard that the building it was in (37 Hanna, which is no longer there) had been a munitions factory at one point. And that the building where the original Gas Station recording studio was located had been a prison -- the large institutional bathrooms were great for natural reverb. I spent a lot of time in that area, both for work and play... there was a warehouse complex on Moffat where the band I played in practiced... a close-knit community of musicians made there home there... there were always people hanging out, practicing or just jamming, lots of parties, speakeasies, everything was very rough, unfinished, and industrial so you didn't have to worry about spilling beer or banging into things with your gear... good times, and yes, total nostalgia, guilty as charged... I'm a mom w/2 kids now, can't believe that was 20 years ago, some of those people are still playing music and doing quite well... Seeing the pic of the women playing baseball, I couldn't help but be reminded of one I have of my younger self swinging a bat on the roof of the Gas Station building; in the background is the huge water tower-sized Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket that used to be right by the Gardiner... I can't remember even being there and doing that, but I have the picture to prove it... I can't help but wonder if there is any affordable semi-industrial space left downtown anymore where people can live/work/make noise, art, etc...
sassafrass replying to a comment from sassafrass / February 18, 2012 at 03:01 am
made *their* home there ... ugh...
Derek replying to a comment from sassafrass / February 18, 2012 at 03:20 am
Thanks for this. Comments like yours are why I dig around for this stuff.
sassafrass replying to a comment from Derek / February 18, 2012 at 03:54 am
...and thanks for digging.
Terry / February 18, 2012 at 07:44 am
Yes, thanks for digging! Great stuff
biggy. / February 18, 2012 at 09:10 am
I have lived and worked in and around Parkdale and Liberty since 92.

It seems to me like like all the cool and interesting spaces people moved here to be around, are being torn down to build the the condo apartments.

I have a few friends who had artist studio's and workspaces down there who have just given up and moved out to Etocicoke where you can still find reasoanbly priced big spaces.

I am thinking I am going to do the same soon it is just too crazy around here now. It is like being surrounded by boring suburban devlopements.
morga replying to a comment from biggy. / February 18, 2012 at 11:34 am
So your solution to getting away from boring suburban developments is moving to etobicoke???
Klowns / February 18, 2012 at 11:55 am
Ya lets leave deralict, crappy factories around forever. Much better.
biggy / February 18, 2012 at 12:39 pm
I am not specially going to Etobicoke just leaving the area.

As for Klowns comment, there is room to keep the character of the neighbourhood, and develop it intelligently.
george sawision / February 18, 2012 at 01:26 pm
lived in trinity spadina my whole life and these pictures bring back so many memories.Was even part of the history trying to bring transit to the area but unfortunately for short sighted politicians this area is so under serviced now. Can you believe with all this development nobody wanted to look at transit at all!Even the trains running through the area at present there is little or no consideration to the noise and pollution that it will spew on the condos.Hopefully in another twenty years some politician will finally approve a subway system on those old rail lines and move us into the 22nd century, the 21st was lost LOL
rick mcginnis / February 18, 2012 at 03:15 pm
I remember in the early '80s when the derelict Massey Harris buildings were a hot location for music videos and the sort of b-grade films we made here in the tax shelter era. A few years after that when I worked for NOW magazine I was sent to photograph the Inglis properties for an article about the (ultimately doomed) attempt to preserve part of it. I know I have those photos around here somewhere, and would have loved to send them along to you to use, but they're stuck behind the analog wall, frozen on strips of film.
Des Joseph / February 18, 2012 at 04:52 pm
I remember partying like hell in the lofts in the Liberty Village, we lived in Parkdale in 1971. I remember those days well!
sarah / February 18, 2012 at 09:46 pm
I work in Liberty and have been inside most of the restored office buildings - very cool to see what the area looked like. Thanks for sharing!
me / February 19, 2012 at 12:49 am
fond memories of upper canada brewery, the 1995 cycle messenger world championship, and after-parties on mowat! good times, indeed!
urbanist / February 20, 2012 at 06:27 pm
Great photos! Fact is that most the the buildings in the photos are still standing in liberty village. The buildings on the west side are populated by design and high tech jobs. The condos on the east side have brought people to live in the area, many whom work in liberty village. On the east side, the area has remaining historic buildings including the Inglis munitions factory which is now the liberty market building. The chapel building is being restored and there is still the Williams machinery building. Contamination from former industry is cleaned up before there is any residential use.
Andrew / February 21, 2012 at 12:46 pm
More awesome stuff Derek!
Sarah replying to a comment from simuls / February 21, 2012 at 09:32 pm
Totally agree! How is it that we live in a condo, which at the base of it all is maybe 3000 square feet, but 30+ stories up, we pay for property tax. And....we don't need to go out of the building to go to the gym, and we do not need to scrape our windshields, on a winter morning. I grew up on a farm, with acres of land, and really enjoy living condo style!
namehijacked / February 24, 2012 at 08:37 am
Great pics. I lived at Atlantic/King for 3 years back in the early '80s. Other than Lamport Stadium, we were a tiny oasis of townhouses surrounded by factories and warehouses. The area was bustling with commerce and activity. Interestingly, as those jobs moved to China, the Chinese themselves will be moving into Liberty Village over the next couple years, enmasse.
In my crazy, experimental youth, back when I had meaningless jobs and just enough for the rent, I tried wild and crazy things like bicycling to my job at College/Bay for several weeks. (Crazy, I thought - what nutcase would willingly do that?) So, I tried the TTC for a couple years. Even in those days, with Massey Ferguson recently closed, I'd often have to wait for 2 or 3 streetcars at 7:20 a.m. before I could actually get on. I finally got a real job, a good paycheck and bought a car. Never looked back.
Thirty years later, so much has changed. Not. King St. is still 4 lanes. Streetcars will have to crawl under the railroad bridge. The condo towers, and those two ugly office towers at Strachan ensure that as the city reaches 3, then 4 and even 5 million - King St. will forever be 4 lanes. But that's okay, you can take Queen - OOPS! 4 lanes, too! Not even room for a streetcar ROW. I wonder what long term plan the city has, other than simply banning cars, since they've let 30 years worth of opportunity slip through their fingers. Starting with the Summit, King St could be six lanes by now. Instead of improvements, Bathurst loses a lane at King, thanks to the new and improved TTC island. Thanks, Toronto! Always a step back.
I want to thank the city for a source of merriment while I get my morning coffee at Tim Horton's at King/Strachan: watching the 80 foot (3/4 empty) TTC bus try to navigate the right turn onto Strachan is hilarious. Why wouldn't we narrow Strachan when the only other way across those tracks is Bathurst, more than a km to the east and Dufferin more than a km west?
And then there's Strachan itself. A street that used to be 4 lanes, but thanks to the city's esteemed wisdom was narrowed to 2, just as 50,000 people were dumped into a triangle surrounded by railroad tracks. Trapped. Nowhere to get in or out except East Liberty, or Atlantic/Jefferson at the other end.
Yes, indeed, LIberty Village, every commissioned sales agent's wet dream. The Tower and King West, collectively 1,700 units, about to dump 1,500 cars onto those carefully planned streets in the next year. That's on top of the half dozen other buildings already going up or planned.
Good fun! That should make East LIberty/Strachan one of the most hated intersections in the city.
Oh, I saved the punchline for last: 80% of the sales in Liberty Village has been to Asian 'investors.' What's that popping noise I hear? The sound of a balloon bursting? Rents in the area are already slowly winding down. (Last year , one of the major developers I used to work for was suddenly in an awful rush to dump the units they had held back for 'investment,' even to the point of breaking 2 year leases on some tenants.)
Yes, Liberty Village will be fun to watch over the next 5 years. It epitomizes everything that is wrong with the city.
If we close our eyes and squeeze real tight, maybe automobiles (and the hundreds of millions they contribute to the city's coffers) will be gone when we open them. Presto! Just like that. Thank God those ugly factories, with their high paying, stable jobs are all gone: I'd rather work at the Metro or Starbucks, making $10 an hour. Too bad you won't be able to afford to live in the area. Ah, well, Parkdale is only 10 minutes west.
And just as a sidebar, to all those regulars (and you know who you are) who truly believe the city ends at High Park, Main St. and St. Clair: a recent assignment of mine takes me to the yonder kingdom of Brampton every day, a drive that used to take 40 minutes once upon a time, now takes me (optimistically) an hour in the morning and 90 minutes if I dare leave at 5:30 from Brampton, rather than 5:00.
Imagine my amazement as I sit in traffic in the evening, first the inbound 401 is plugged from Dixie (20 km/hr is still faster than a bike, I might add), then the 427 south ramp is jammed, then the 427 south - at 6:15 pm, jammed southbound! Well, that simply MUST be those nasty 905ers using OUR roads to get back to their lifeless suburban homes. Ah, but the traffic on the eastbound ramp into the city is now worse than the westbound ramp to the slums of Missisauga and Oakville!
But, hey - let's slap a toll on the Gardiner, the only functioning E-W corridor south of the 401, to keep those nasty 905ers out Never mind that the traffic coming INTO the city at 6:30 pm is slower than the traffic heading OUT. (Let's not confuse the 905 haters with facts, shall we?)
@ Frown - You're on the right path, but off by a factor of 10. King West alone is almost 1,400 units. That's 3,000 residents (all renters, BTW) that will be unleashed in this calender year. The overall population of that island has to be 50,000.
@ Lee - and you know this because...? Did you ever live down there? I lived almost at the corner of Atlantic/King from 1981 to 1984. Nothing dangerous about it. I celebrated New Year's 1999 at a huge rave in a massive warehouse just west of Strachan, right where the ugly townhouses are jammed today.
The so-called Entertainment District was actually more entertaining before the chattering class got their monied hooks into it. All those warehouses from John to beyond Spadina housed many after hours clubs, some legal, some not. There were no $20 covers, bouncers in tuxedos, fist fights in the alleys, or taxi chaos on King at 2 a.m. Taxes were cheap, the police looked the other way, and fun clubs were easy to slap up - just like Montreal still is today.
Those who did not live this city back then should stop reading the Star's press clippings and Jane Jacob's ramblings. Try opening your eyes and see this city's decline for what it really is. Ah, but then you would have to a) actually travel around and beyond the city to get a feel for that and b) have a sense of history, of lineage to where the city was and what it could have been.
You're not going to find that in Wikipedia, nor from your bicycle seat.
Del Norte / February 24, 2012 at 12:01 pm
Another example of Toronto selling itself out to a bunch of douchebag developers.
sassafrass replying to a comment from sassafrass / February 24, 2012 at 01:25 pm
...and that's *Mowat* (not "Moffat)...
Clide replying to a comment from Del Norte / February 24, 2012 at 06:44 pm
Yeah, we should have left it as derelict industrial land. There are a lot of cities in the world that struggle to achieve development half as good as Liberty Village.
Del Norter replying to a comment from Clide / February 24, 2012 at 06:50 pm
Glad you agree that pissing yuppie douche on everything doesn't always make it better. And you're right-on that "a lot cities in the world struggle to achieve development half as good as Liberty Village". Mogadishu and Lagos couldn't build anything half as douchey if they tried all-out.
Greg Greene / February 26, 2012 at 10:48 am
I lived in Liberty Village for 16 years, and just moved to Parkdale. The town houses and new apartment towers are such a disappointment. If you compare the urban planning and architectural achievements of Vancouver with what gets built here in Toronto, and sadly Liberty Village is the poster-child for this difference, you see the crap that gets built here for what it is. Whether you agree with what Van has done to build density, or you are critical of the Point-and-Podium tower development strategy, you can't help but see how low Toronto's standards have become. The neighbourhood has become a magnet for a particularly obnoxious species of hipsters (is there a LuluLemon outlet in the 'hood yet?). I used to go to the local gym and ended up calling it Die Yuppy Scum Fitness... Before I decided to move "outta here". Maybe someday Liberty Village will regrow into the diverse, beautiful neighbourhood it has the potential to be. Until then I'll stay in Parkdale with the real folks.
the lemur replying to a comment from namehijacked / February 26, 2012 at 02:50 pm

You've already said all of that at least once before. Except maybe the part about the streetcar island (which isn't true - there wasn't another lane there before) and bike speeds (bike commuting means easily reaching speeds of 20-25 km/h, averaging 15-20).
CaligulaJones replying to a comment from namehijacked / March 6, 2012 at 03:17 pm
"all those regulars (and you know who you are) who truly believe the city ends at High Park, Main St. and St. Clair"

Really? From what I see (although not really on BlogTo, but, er, elsewhere), most believe the city ends, east-wise at least, at the Don. There may be some reluctant "OKs" about Greektown, but most "Top 10" lists I've seen lately don't get very far from the Queen-Ossington-Bloor-Wellesley square.
the lemur replying to a comment from CaligulaJones / March 6, 2012 at 03:56 pm
That doesn't make a square.

You can safely disregard namehijacked - he's just pissy because no one seems to share his concern about how oppressed he is as someone who likes to drive everywhere, how the roads aren't wide enough, the condo situation is getting out of control, and how everything is generally going to hell in a handbasket.
Liberty Bell / April 1, 2012 at 02:11 am
I used to go to raves in Liberty in '92 when it was a ghost town and landlords were desperate to rent out their spots for $500 a night. Now they are all millionaires and it even has it's own website?!

I can't deny it's an awesome little community now though. Not many unpolished venues left.
Eric / April 3, 2012 at 09:32 am
This is a spot I shot in the building titled 'East Liberty Street, 2006 (Photo by Alex Luyckx)' sometime around late 90's or early 00's. It was cold wet and amazing.
Pat / June 7, 2012 at 02:20 am
I've lived in the parkdale & trinity/bellwoods areas for close to 30 years and quite frankly I believe the development in recent years has been an improvement for the mostpart.

Problem nowadays is once the LCBO closes, it's dead.
acidman / June 28, 2012 at 02:43 pm
Nobody seems to mention that Liberty Village was for a while a base for a large number of porn websites and studios in the late 90s...
Max / July 12, 2012 at 10:51 pm
Wow what a difference, As a young kid in the 80's I would go to work with my dad on Saturdays the small trucking company rented a fenced off yard attached to the south side of the A R Williams building. Pulling up at 5:30am I can remember having a creepy feeling run through me, it was dark, dirty and there was always a sense of danger. Walking up to the locked gate our poor old doberman guard dog looked relieved to make it through another night. Actually I vaguely remember a fire breaking out one night in the A R Williams building killing two of their guard dogs. During those days the building was leased out to a few shady characters one being an old man who operated a tire shop at the back I think he even lived there, he was drunk most the time. When stuck at the yard and not on the road I would walk all through that area for hours seriously believing I would find a dead body lol. As derelict and poorly maintained as all those buildings were I was fascinated at the effects mother nature and time had on them. Even as a kid I could sense that the buildings were alive, silent but alive holding on to decades of secrets. Seeing these pictures confirms it to me. The clown from the Irwin toy sign seemed out of place, a happy clown looking down on a dirty grungy industrial area?? I'm glad they've managed to save and convert some buildings and these picture will help us to remember what it was at one time. Thanks for the memories.
Phil / July 27, 2012 at 11:39 am
This has to be my all-time favourite BlogTO post. Fantastic!
Boring Bill replying to a comment from acidman / August 17, 2012 at 05:22 pm
It still is apparently, in the 99 Atlantic Ave building. There are lots of film places in there, but some of them are said to be of the smutty variety.

I'm glad the neighbourhood has retained at least a bit of its roots, but I think there are only two or three loft/warehouse spaces that haven't been torn down. Once the bread factory goes and condos go in on the west side of the 'hood, the last live/work warehouses will fall too.
Martin Kuplens-Ewart / August 26, 2012 at 10:51 pm
In late 2006 a buddy and I spent a couple of days shooting in the last of the vacant Inglis buildings that stood beside what is now a Toronto Police building. Demolished the following spring, it was quite the place. A few of my shots are on Flickr:
Karl WK / August 27, 2012 at 03:16 am
I'm thinking about moving into Libery Village. found a 3 bedroom 1500 sq ft condo that has a view of everything, which isn't too bad.

Noise pollution. The rail yards for Go and Via... former area and grounds cleaned up ... are the only bad points i can see.

Growing areas always do well. from the artist to the coffee shops and resturants and the Metro grocery store even... you can tell people are serious about making Liberty Village a upwardly mobile area eventually. It's getting there. You can tell.

i'd like to speak directly to people here and find out what it's like to live there. Do you have everything you need within walking distance? I like to get on out and meet people for coffee and take in a cold beer somewhere nice . Is it affordable to do that? Can i still get a cold beer that isn't the same price like Rogers Stadium . Not going to pay $11 for a beer, people.

Condo lifestyle is great. i'm all for that. i need to be doing that and it seems toronto has everything that meets my needs too..

What is with all these 3ft LapPools in these condo's? i want something with 8-10 feet depths so i can swim underneath on a breath. not a 3 ft kiddie proofed pool that people P in. ... LOL that would be my only complaint though about condo living .

Love King Street. Especially that Bier Place at Portland & King. Wow, had a pint or two of the dark ales there. quite the beer buzz on such an extraordinary brew they served in that tiny area. Yeah, $3.50 for it that time too!

Ok, what about meeting people. I want to socialize. Any good dance clubs in Liberty Village or do i have to go to club flaminco (again) with dreadful thoughts in mind of Gino's in fake suits? .. lol

How is the Irish Pub there at liberty village? anyone ever go there for a Pint or a snack even? service, prices reasonable? Curious. I'm drawn to Irish Women too, so that would seem like a fun friday evening pub thing to do.

i'd love to see a subway stop there that connects to the downtown in an instant. i'd be the first in line to get a TTC pass too. right now these day passes are the screamer here. love them. whenever i need to go out and about and do things, i'll get one of them and enjoy it for a day.

Ok, Metro Grocery Store, A&P as we call it. Prices? anyone can get a meal under $10 at subway but can we get something reasonable for that too with greater value there?

Oh, and a good steak dinner out. anyone know of a place in liberty village that is great? Yes, they have to serve cold beer too there. Also, a patio where people can enjoy a brew too. I'm a beer drinker mostly on a Hot Summer Day.

anon replying to a comment from namehijacked / October 31, 2012 at 07:22 pm
What on earth does any of you rambling have to do with Jane Jacobs? You know that she was in favour of strongly connecting neighbourhoods with their surroundings, right? She would share your complaint about Liberty Village's poor connectivity with the rest of the city. Maybe you should actually read what she wrote, instead of just writing long rants online?
namehijacked / October 31, 2012 at 10:51 pm
Don't listen to me, I'm a knob.
Bill Tee / March 29, 2013 at 03:53 pm
With all the thousands of accommodations being built in central Toronto and the demise of industry there where are people going to work? I assume that great numbers will travel every day to the suburbs where the industry is. Would that not just reverse the existing travel habits rather than change them?
Bridgeman / March 29, 2013 at 05:06 pm
Facinating! Absolutely wonderful pics of 1915, 1920, 1926 and 1940s.
Elizabeth from Etobicoke / September 30, 2013 at 11:09 pm
Every once in a while, I visit Liberty Village, Toronto's first industrial park. I'd take the "511 Bathurst" streetcar from the subway, then walk up Strachan Avenue.

In T.O., unlike in many urban centres in the United States where downtowns have become "donut holes" which the people 'abandon' the downtown for living the suburbs, people are moving back into the downtown core, and redevelop the city's 'brownfields', old industrial neighbourhoods. This reverses the trend of urban/suburban sprawl, which is eating away at the farmland outside T.O. One of these is Liberty Village, a former industrial park (where people did blue-collar work in the many factories) into an area where people come here not only to be working, but also living, shopping, dining, and playing.

Over the years, the area's factories are transformed into shopping plazas, condominium buildings, and headquarters for companies (Cineplex Odeon), and up-scale retail stores (West Elm and Casalife).

It's where "hip meets history". Visitors to Liberty Village could 'see' and 'hear' the sights and sounds of the people working in the factories which made farm machinery (Massey-Harris), home appliances (John Inglis Co.) toys (Irwin Toys), rugs and carpets (Toronto Carpets Manufacturers).

Pat Dixon replying to a comment from AV / October 8, 2013 at 10:15 pm
We just need to keep reminding ourselves those nostalgic times were full of ignorance, prejudice, bigotry - a critical/judgmental culture. We have to build and we build badly when communities just resist instead of getting together and creatively solving the problem as a whole -- the problem of housing a steadily increasing population. And no, we can't tell them to go somewhere else. It's just a natural part of the world wide urbanization of mankind - of necessity.
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paul j / November 19, 2013 at 01:02 pm
Back in the 60's, I used to tour all the Liberty buildings with my father when he was doing inspections for Travellers Insurance Co. A highlight was the model trains display, nice to see when not so crowded like during an open house. I recall the building had really thick walls, Dad had said it was an ammunition factory at one time. I truly enjoyed that part of Toronto back then
Laxton / December 8, 2013 at 03:06 pm
Hmm let's not forget that re-appropriation of Liberty Village only happened like 12 years ago. No need to dig up photos 30-40 years old to show how Liberty "used" to be.
Maggie / December 8, 2013 at 03:22 pm
Rode my bike down there in the 80's and used to walk home from the a whole different world compared to downtown..glad they've fixed it up!
Teresa / December 8, 2013 at 04:00 pm
Wonderful photos. I lived in one of the lofts on Liberty Street in the early 90's. Thats when "lofts" were occupied by artists and industry side by side! I miss that neighborhood.
David replying to a comment from paul j / December 8, 2013 at 05:42 pm
The factories "Stay away from those Factories" as always being told. A place to hang out! Railway tracks where there should have been a sidewalk or drive way. The biggest thing was as of late, the buildings no longer where kept up to an industrial Standard. It would have been something still to be working there.
Christopher / December 8, 2013 at 06:59 pm
Yup, liked the old neighborhood before it became so commercial. booze cans, cool little restaurants, real lofts, upper canada brewery, bike courier races...
Thanks for the photos.
Fee / December 8, 2013 at 07:18 pm
Condos condos condos!!!!! This city needs to develop parks. How many more condos does this congested, over pretentious city need????
Pluckysod replying to a comment from Sarah / December 8, 2013 at 09:06 pm
You're paying property tax for your condo, not a land tax. The tax has got nothing to do with how much space your tower of condos takes up, but what amount of city resources are used to service the building and the residents of the building, everything from sewage disposal to policing, and how much citizens contribute through taxes to the welfare of the city as a whole.
James1 / December 8, 2013 at 09:47 pm
Like others remembered Liberty Village was a hot spot for late night dance events. At times during the 90's there was at least 3-4 warehouse parties happening on the weekends.
Jo / December 9, 2013 at 08:31 am
Fond memories of weekly booze-cans in the Munitions Factory at the bottom of Hanna, where you could roam through the place till you heard music you liked, and just walk in if the doors were open. Of course, all you could drink (mostly) was Upper Canada Lager from the next street over...Indoor bike races with drunk couriers, slaloming between the steel posts, the sound of the floorbeams creaking across the open space as we sped back around and dove into one of the hallways for another lap of racing shoulder-to-shoulder, and skidding turns over the diamond-plate intersections. Man...That was the best racetrack ever.
Chris / December 9, 2013 at 01:41 pm
I actually really love the old industrial architecture in this area, the city needs to make sure it is protected! Seriously has potential to be another Distillery District for the city! Hopefully its potential will be realized
Tom / December 9, 2013 at 10:01 pm
Basically, Liberty Village is a suburban colony in downtown Toronto. Better I suppose than a strip of big box stores.. but ... barely.
George Dunbar / June 23, 2014 at 10:43 pm
Surprised that there is no photograph of the General Electric Lamp Works that was once on Dufferin St.
Quite a large building that was still there a few years ago.
I worked there for a few months in 1954.
Alex replying to a comment from simuls / November 13, 2014 at 11:14 pm
you have a point for sure but you're giving the developers far too much credit. If you have a child in liberty village where do you throw a baseball that isn't a dog toilet? Why isn't there a bike lane built into the areas redevelopment? The area has no feeling of toronto what so ever and frankly could exist anywhere on the planet. It takes some creavity but condos can and should have a personality. Condos can be great if they are hospitable but it' seems the developers in liberty are far more interested In a fast buck then thinking long term.
Justine / November 14, 2014 at 10:14 am
I grew up in Newcastle (45 min east of Toronto) and the Massy Ferguson family really gave birth to that town - or Bond Head as it was known then. Their factory still stands there (although its been converted into lofts). It's so neat to think of this family having such a huge influence on where we live. I also head that Bond Head was originally planed to be the big city that Toronto is - but I can't remember the reasons why it never went through - I think it had something to do with the Port.
Martin / November 15, 2014 at 05:36 am
I lived in Toronto (Junction/Parkdale area) from 1988 to 2001, and have fond memories of Liberty Village. Many of my friends had studios there at various times, lost of great parties or just hanging out. I became a photographer during that time, and the area was great for that too. And brunches at the Liberty Café... anyone remember that?

I haven't lived in TO since then, but do return every couple of years to visit friends and family. The pace of the changes in the city centre as a whole and especially in the Liberty Village area is staggering. Yes, change is a part of life, and even a historical city like Prague (where I live now) is undergoing changes. But change needs to be managed, and Toronto does a particularly bad job of that.

I remember back in the 1990s, seeing pictures of downtown from the early part of the 20th Century. It looked like "little Manhattan". I remember people saying that back then what a shame it was that at that time no-one cared about architectural heritage, and how lucky we were that now it's different.

Well, as we can see, times aren't all that different. Fifty years from now, someone will be looking at those images and saying the same thing, again. Yes, parts of the area were pretty dumpy. But there were refurbishment projects like the Carpet Factory that did a great job of preserving the old while making it usable in the present day.

@namehijacked: I worked for Nortel (anyone remember Nortel?) in Brampton back in the 1990s. At that time, barring traffic jams caused by accidents, it took me about 30-40 minutes to get to work from the Parkdale area, or back. Even that eventually became too much, in my eyes.

I can't imagine doing a 90 minute drive, twice a day, as a regular part of my day. I'm glad that particular part of my life is long gone...
Mike formerly of Parkdale / November 15, 2014 at 08:22 am
For fun, go watch the original Police Academy movie. The shoot out finale is on the hannah vy by the toy factory building. They even shot on the roof, which ive been on a few times
Philip / November 15, 2014 at 04:12 pm
I had the pleasure of living in Liberty Village for just over a year. Loved the neighborhood. Only moved because my family was growing AND I also needed to find better schooling. All the "experts" told me that the best public schools are in the burbs. The traffic IS going to be insane once all the condos are full though.
david / November 16, 2014 at 02:12 am
I along with my girlfriend and my 3 girls lived in the building shown in series 1465 for about 3 years in the late 1970's. During the day it was busy with working people, ourselves included, but at night and on the weekends it was deserted and we had the run of the area. Our girls and their friend used to dumpster dive at Irwin Toy, and brought home many treasures. It was a very special time for all of us.
Nat / November 16, 2014 at 03:12 am
I remember tripping on LSD years ago, seeing that the inglis sign had a marquee, and sitting in the brush by the train tracks reading the motivational quote, staring at the stars... And just believing that life at that moment was beautiful... Now I avoid that area like the plague
Steve / November 17, 2014 at 01:23 am
The area went boom because office and residential tend to create really potent combination of mix primary uses. So much of what we call mixed use is thin and largely ineffective. It's not architecture that we're getting wrong, it's that we're not using office jobs to replace employment in once truly mixed use areas. Here's what Jane Jacobs had to say about this phenomenon in the East Danforth ...
Old Timer / November 17, 2014 at 02:02 am
I lived there, and it looked like shit. It was home to the old third string hookers who couldn't afford even Miss Clairol.
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Brian Markle / January 1, 2015 at 09:40 am
My mother and aunt worked in Liberty Village making Bren guns during WWII. Now my wife and I own and live in a condo here. It's really a small village with everything in it within walking distance: coffee shops, banks, health food stores, restaurants, etc. Close to the CNE, and easy access to downtown and highways. Walking distance to great shops on Queen St, West. There is history here, and it enhances the character of the village. As someone mentioned, condos offer a more efficient way of living and that is true.
a / September 25, 2015 at 11:03 pm
Imagine the garbage that will exist in a hundred years time that will have people look back nostalgically at today's condo villages.
John / September 26, 2015 at 10:58 pm
Don't know how you could omit this (what wad on the site of Lamport Stadium):
md replying to a comment from W. K. Lis / September 27, 2015 at 07:49 am
Lamenting the loss of factories and manual labor jobs because they were so dreamy? Liberty Village is a young vibrant an pretty affluent community
Joe / January 10, 2016 at 01:14 pm
I love what the developers have done with Liberty Village it looks beautiful. Many of the old run down warehouses have been rejuvenated and preserved. I remember this neighborhood in the 60's and 70's
It was a dump. You would never want to go there.
David Vaughan / January 16, 2016 at 09:13 am
Just taking a chance here... I need to contact someone who used to work at a sound studio in Liberty Village a few years ago... all I know is that the business was called ROAR (sound, or recording or something) on Atlantic Ave. Does anyone have any contact, new address etc info to impart? I'm not a bill collector, hit man or otherwise, just trying to get a photo to that person. Thanks in advance
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