cobblestone streets toronto

A bricklayer's guide to cobblestone streets in Toronto

Toronto is a city built on bricks. Should you ever doubt that, try to bear in mind why it is we have a place called the Brick Works, which served as a quarry and brick manufacturing plant before it was a cultural hub. Some of the city's most important buildings were crafted out out of brick -- think Maple Leaf Gardens and the Flatiron building, to name just two iconic examples.

But, of course, the city used to feature plenty of cobblestone streets as well. Often used on old streetcar routes, in the spring one might occasionally notice chipped asphalt on streets like Davenport, Dovercourt and Hallam that reveals their brick underbellies. The original surfaces were merely paved over rather than replaced. So much history under our feet.

There are, however, plenty of examples of cobblestone streets that have been preserved throughout Toronto. For many, the Distillery District will immediately come to mind, but it's far from alone. In neighbourhoods as diverse as Cabbagetown, Rosedale and Forest Hill, one can find examples of brick roads.

In fact, thanks to Arthur Rozumek, we have a cartographic record of our remaining brick streets. I suspect there's more than you might think, with over 20 examples of such thoroughfares in Toronto, not to mention a few sidewalks thrown in for good measure.

And, interestingly, the list is actually growing, as contemporary planners have returned to brick streets and sidewalks for their aesthetic appeal. The new Queens Quay promenade is a good example of this, as the brick lends a certain status to the revamped waterfront.

Use the map below to seek out Toronto's brick streets.

Do you cobblestone streets to add to the map? Let us know in the comments.

Photo by Keith Armstrong in the blogTO Flickr pool.


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