Toronto Behind the Boarding: Queen and Beverly
Ever since the upper floor of the storefronts on the south side of Queen and Beverly caught fire a while back, I have had my eye on the buildings. There is something very perplexing about prime real estate in downtown Toronto sitting derelict, no matter what the damage. What is even more confusing is the city's attempt to pretend to be working on the place, just so that passers-by don't give it a second thought.
Eventually my curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to find a way in.
The first visit I paid was done alone - an unforgivably stupid move. Crawling through a crumbling basement, my flashlight would occasionally reflect off a burnt spoon or needle, reminding me of the reality of my situation. It's like getting lost - do you turn back now, or dig deeper, hoping for some glorious revelation.
An acquaintance of mine had visited the place to take candid street-snaps a week or so earlier, so I sure as hell wasn't going to tell him I had chickened-out. As I gingerly wandered higher into the building, I noticed that the neighbouring (and equally abandoned) pizza shop was actually a separate building; on the second floor, however, some junkies had actually broken through two walls, making the second building accessible, and filling it with the same squatter's garbage (mattresses, beer bottles, punk posters, aerosol cans, cigarette butts, condom wrappers - you know the score).
The band-aid solutions which the city has placed around buildings such as these (fake scaffolding which was never actually used - but made a good exterior ladder to the roof, plywood fencing at the rear et cetera) are, I suppose, meant to be more psychological barriers than physical ones. As it turns out, visual cues for a populace to avert their eyes is more cost-effective than dealing with a problem.
While the obtuse form of people-watching allowed from this building's vantage point is unique, the unhealed sores of this gutter-punk domain offer the accouterments of a Vice article, or a twisted dream at best.
That being said, I will continue to visit these places and take photos, watching my step and keeping my tetanus shots up to date.
The next time you cast a furtive glance inside the soiled storefront of one of these derelict strips, don't be so sure that someone isn't looking right back out at you.
Below are a few more snaps from this sordid place...
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