A snapshot of Queens Quay in the 1970s
The 1970s were a fascinating time on Queens Quay. While the condo boom was still a decade away, this was a place in massive transition. The old industrial character of the street was beginning to give way to a new identity with the arrival of Captain John's, the rise of the Westin Harbour Castle, and the sprawling Harbourfront project.
The industrial lands between York St. and Bathurst were expropriated throughout the decade in order to give birth to a new vision for the waterfront, one that included art galleries, green space, and performance venues. Prior to the Harbourfront project, Queens Quay really was an industrial wasteland.
It's remarkable to see the state of the street when the expropriation and demolition of the former buildings was complete but Harbourfront had yet to take shape (the Queens Quay Terminal wasn't renovated until 1983). The western portion of the street was like a blank canvas. It's interesting, then, that it took until the 2007 opening of HTO Park for this space to live up to its potential.
The recent revitalization of Queens Quay has only pushed the place further from its industrial roots as Toronto finally starts to make good on building a waterfront that's worth boasting about. Signs of industry haven't been completely wiped out, of course. The Canada Malting and Victory Soya Mills silos are a reminder of the past, as is the Redpath Sugar plant, particularly during deliveries.
You could make the argument that Toronto allowed too much condo development along the water in the decades that followed, but with the rise of South Core, Queens Quay is animated in a way that it never used to be. In any case, it's nothing like the near-deserted place it was at the outset of the 1970s.
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