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2006 09 10
A Random Walk Through Toronto’s Core
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Friday morning was a perfect time to have to walk from one meeting to another across the University of Toronto campus and on past Queen's Park circle to downtown. There are parts of the city where every turn brings experiences that just aren't in any guide books. Here is an example.

East of Robarts Library along Harbord Street, new university students belted out frosh songs. I got absorbed into this tide of blue and red T-shirted freshmen who suddenly burst through the doors of Trinity College and swept across Hoskin Ave. The energy was irresistible.

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Their momentum carried me to Hart House Circle where I cut across the bustling commons to Queen's Park. There, a City TV van was just about to broadcast some breaking story. The institutional weight of the Parliament building contrasted against the lightness of microwave antenna made the moment special in an odd way -- was it something to do with the relative permanence of institutions opposed to the transient nature of media? This image conveys something of the feeling.

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From there I made my way towards Bay Street. At the corner was this mini-van, every inch of its surface covered with pennies. An older woman was behind the wheel. The light turned green and she and the pennies disappeared north up Bay Street towards the city's exclusive shops on Bloor. Unusual.

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I was late. I hurried down Yonge through Dundas Square. It is a remarkable place when busy. The square manages to simultaneously provide two - what I thought were opposite - experiences: the media-centric Times Square experience as well as something of the lounging calm found in a Roman piazza. Is it the fountains and cafe tables together that manage to pull off this trick? Probably, but it also works because of the clever details like those seen on the square's granite benches. Hats off to Brown and Storey Architects.

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My meeting was on Clarence Street at a restaurant just behind the King Edward Hotel. This condo building struck me as being well-designed and very urban. I often forget that Toronto has some streets that are just as dense and well considered as any in Manhattan. The building's name, the "Cosmopolitan," is appropriate.

[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 09/10 at 06:10 AM

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