Tag Archives: esplanade
The St. Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto, Ontario, Canada although still part of downtown Toronto, was the actual downtown centre and city hall location during the 19th century.
The area is bounded by Yonge, Front, and Parliament Streets, and the Canadian National railway embankment. The Esplanade off Yonge St., lined with restaurants, cafÃ©s and hotels runs through the middle of the area.
In previous times, the area was sometimes referred to as ‘St. Lawrence Ward’ or more often today as ‘St. Lawrence Market‘, synonymous with the large retail vendor market which is the neighbourhood’s focal point. Saint Lawrence (shortened to St. Lawrence) was so named after the patron saint of Canada.
The area was the site of Toronto’s earliest non-military European settlements. The first parliament buildings in Upper Canada in 1793 were constructed on the southwest corner of Parliament and Front Street.
The buildings have long since gone from the site, but a discovery in 2000 when a quick dig of the property revealed the old parliament building footings, in addition to some pottery from that time. The city and the province now own most of the property, although there is no current preservation or memorial located there.
A Saturday farmers’ market began operation in St. Lawrence in 1803.
The city of Toronto’s first city hall was located on the southwest corner of King St. East & Jarvis St. at the old ‘Market’ building from 1834 (the year of Toronto’s incorporation from the former town of York) to 1844. This building was later burnt down during the great fire of 1849 and replaced with the grandiose St. Lawrence Hall and north section of the market, referred to today as the ‘North Market’.
In response to the city’s dramatic population growth centred around present day St. Lawrence Market, a larger city hall, also housing a police station and jail cells opened in 1845 with a 140′ facade running along south side of Front Street. City Hall was moved out of the area in 1899 to what is now Old City Hall before moving once again to its current location. The former city hall was converted into and expanded into the market gallery or ‘South Market’. The old council chamber is all that remains of the original city hall and is located on the gallery’s second floor.
By 1850, Toronto’s waterfront and wharves were located along the Esplanade, not its current location below Harbourfront. The Grand Trunk Railway line was constructed serving the many warehouses along the wharves. Commercial activity along Toronto’s bustling harbour provided employment and was the primary place of entry to the quickly growing, burgeoning city.
The convergence of the railway lines and the wharves must have worked because in 1873 historian Henry Scadding so eloquently wrote in his book Old Toronto of The Esplanade “It has done for Toronto what the Thames Embankment has done for London”.
However, the rapid deindustrialization of the 1960s and 1970s the area along with the neighbouring Distillery District became used for movie location shoots and rickshaw housing for the homeless, due to the dark, urban and vacant industrial atmosphere that existed at that time.
In the 1980s it was decided by mayor David Crombie to turn the area into a new residential neighbourhood, but one that would not make the same mistakes of the housing projects of earlier decades. The neighbourhood was to be integrated into the city with no clear boundaries. It would contain a mix of commercial and residential as with both subsidized and market oriented housing, mostly rowhouse or low-rise apartments.
The neighbourhood was planned by Alan Littlewood and the influence of American urban planner Jane Jacobs played a crucial role. Many of the developments were not completed until well into the 1990s. Since that time, the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood has been critically acclaimed as a major success in urban planning. In many ways, it has become the model for the design and planning of new urban communities across North America.
Some of the most interesting architecture in the city can be found in St. Lawrence Market, one notable landmark is the Flatiron building, known for its distinct narrow, wedge shape where Wellington St. merges with Front. Built in 1892, it was the first of this type of building constructed in North America. If viewed from the east, the wedge can be seen in the foreground with the financial skyscrapers and the CN tower rising in the background.
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Officials optimistic about new neighbourhood despite signs of softening market
Natalie Stechyson – Globe and Mail
Waterfront Toronto has unveiled plans for 1,700 condo units in a new neighbourhood below the Esplanade.
John Campbell, CEO and president of Waterfront Toronto, said at a news conference on Thursday that the development company Hines is the winner of the competition to design the neighbourhood. Backed by an $800-million private-sector investment, the plan includes new condo buildings with rooftop gardens, a retail and entertainment corridor, and employment space for 2,400 jobs.
The neighbourhood is planned for a 10-acre site bordered by Lake Ontario, Queens Quay East and Parliament and Sherbourne Streets.
Avi Tesciuba, vice-president of development at Hines, said he is confident that the market will absorb any fluctuations by the time the first of the condos are ready, tentatively set for 2014.
“If you can’t sell condos on the waterfront, you can’t sell them anywhere,” he said.
Waterfront Toronto started discussing land uses seven years ago, and began public consultation two years later. In 2008, it began looking for developers to submit designs. Four were asked for proposals in November, 2009.
Elli Davis, a 26-year veteran of condo sales in Toronto, says the units will likely be needed as the city grows. She said July’s sales slump revealed by the Toronto Real Estate Board doesn’t concern her, noting that the real estate market always slows in the summer. Still, she added, the market changes year to year.
“There’s always room for more,” she said, “but I guess time will tell.”
Mr. Campbell said his goal is to reconnect the city to the waterfront. Torontonians have a real disconnect with the land that runs along the lake, he said, and there hasn’t been much to bring people down there because the area was developed for industrial use.
“You have, essentially, underutilized, industrial derelict land,” he said.
City councillor Pam McConnell said the development plan could produce Toronto’s “next great neighbourhood.” She said the plans come after years of public consultation to ensure that they fit with the community’s goals for waterfront revitalization, including great design, environmental sustainability and accessible public spaces.
The plan was unanimously approved by Mayor David Miller’s executive committee, and will be up before full council next week. If approved, construction could start in 2013, with the entire project scheduled to be completed by 2021.