The 10 ugliest streets in Toronto
The 10 ugliest streets in Toronto aren't an easy bunch to choose given the wealth of candidates out there — isn't every suburban industrial area equally off-putting? — but after soliciting feedback from our readers, we've put together a list of candidates that are sure to be cringe-worthy. For the most part, the streets listed below are utilitarian in nature and thus feature architecture that's best described as anonymous and indifferent. The argument could be made that these characteristics are ≠ ugly, but when one's talking about a windowless, grey bunker completely bereft of detail or appreciable design characteristics, they might as well be the same thing.
And yet architecture isn't the only element under consideration here. When we asked readers to nominate ugly streets, they cited things like the presence of unsavory businesses (meat packers were a winner here), dilapidated buildings and, in one case, a jail. Proximity to railway lands, loading docks and strip malls were also highlighted as aesthetic dealbreakers.
As with any list of this kind, there are other nominees that could easily be included. But so what? This isn't supposed to be an academic exercise or even that serious in general. There is, however, a chance to nominate an ultimate winner via the poll at the bottom, so you can still have your say. And, lest those who participated in the making of this list be accused of superficiality, it'd be good to recall one of Oscar Wilde's oft quoted sayings: "It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances."
Located in Scarborough's Golden Mile, a more appropriate periodic element to describe Comstock would be uranium — if you squint your eyes just a little, it's not hard to imagine that some radioactive spill has taken place here. Here you'll find auto collision centres, a bus depot, and a home renovation supercentre. There are sidewalks, but one wonders why given that no one travels on foot here. Prolonged exposure to the scenery can be toxic.
Tucked between the 401 and the 409, what's not to love about Shaft Road? Shipping crates, hydro towers and the sound of highway traffic whizzing by make this one of Toronto's worst eyesores.
Glen Scarlett Road
Located near Keele and St. Clair, Glen Scarlett's particular brand of offensiveness goes beyond the visual. Home to numerous meat-packing plants, it rather disturbingly tends to to stink as well. Someone please tell me that's not the smell of rotting meat wafting through the air.
Dundas Street East
Surely not everyone will agree with this selection, but Dundas East received the most votes in our informal poll on Toronto ugliness. It was also frequently compared to areas in Detroit. For my part, I think the street is fascinating, but I have to concede that to the east of the Don River its charm extends primarily to those interested in the aesthetics of decay.
Located near Sheppard Avenue and Allen Road, Rimrock Road takes the cake for architectural anonymity. Here the idea of the offensively bland soars to new heights as one passes grey bunker after grey bunker. Avoid at all costs.
Dufferin Street (north)
The stretch of Dufferin readers took most issue with runs north of Eglinton to Steeles. Littered with strip malls, fast food joints and gas stations, this is an inhospitable environment for the cultural aesthete. But in the absence of any redeeming architecture or greenspace, it's also just plain ugly.
Lake Shore Boulevard
Lake Shore Boulevard actually made my list of favourite streets last year, but it's rightfully included here on account of reader nominations. And, hey, I acknowledge that I have funny taste when it comes to these sort of things. After all, few people would call a street that runs under what looks to be a crumbling expressway "romantic." Other words that come to mind are dark, dank, and depressing.
It'd be tough to argue that Villiers Street lacks visual character, but isn't that just a nice way of saying something's ugly? The equivalent to the date with a good personality, there's lots to explore here — including animation houses, recording studios and the history of the Port Lands — but the packaging just ain't pretty.
A most unfortunate homophone, an argument could be made that this retail outlet-centric street really is a Toronto orifice (there is, of course, a more lewd way to put this). Orfus Road is one of the few streets I've been on that actually makes me wish I was at strip-mall instead. At least with those, all the ugliness is crammed together.
Located near Mimico Correctional Centre, Horner Road is so damn ugly that the driver of Google's photo-mapping car bailed before finishing the whole street. 'Nuff said.
Lead photo by Scott Snider in the blogTO Flickr pool.
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