1480 Queen West

Toronto Behind the Boarding: 1480 Queen West - What A Facade!

In late October 2005, a massive fire swept through Bun King and Jeff's Dollar Town at 1480 Queen Street West in Parkdale. The view of the resulting rubble pit was quickly hidden from the public view by a clever faรงade which, at casual glance, resembles an ordinary closed-off storefront - not an uncommon sight in this part of town.

1480 Queen West

1480 Queen West

When viewed from the rear, the location is nothing more than a large, long pit that is slowly becoming a neighbourhood dumping zone for garbage and other unwanted items. Portions of the structural beams are still visible, creating a very interesting scenario (visually, at least). Venturing down, we decided to set up a small 'scene' with some of the rubbish...

1480 Queen West1480 Queen West

1480 Queen West

When discussing this location with a friend recently, he pointed out that the 'nothing to see here, folks' approach might actually be the best of a series of bad solutions. While I immediately berated the city for allowing a mess like this to be glossed over, he pointed out that an even greater tension existed: that between public space and private property. In his mind, the facade seems a good compromise between the landowner who is unable to develop (or unwilling to sell), and everybody else.

1480 Queen West

1480 Queen West

Amongst the rubbish we found a series of notes, outlining someone's personal game-plan for conquering their demons, and strengthening their personal relationships...

Although perhaps not as cozy as it could be, this scene did seem rather homey...

1480 Queen West

This curious facade is just one of the many urban oddities in Parkdale. But this particular curiosity raises that old 'chicken-egg' conundrum of the built environment: what influence do we have on the buildings around us and, conversely, what forces do they exert on us, and the way we live our lives? Of course, there is no answer to this question, but at 1480 Queen West, it is clear that more can be done to ameliorate the situation. I think the neighborhood of Parkdale deserves better than this elaborate "band-aid" solution.

(To see high-resolution images of those pictured above, you can visit my flickr slide-show below.)

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