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Thorncliffe Park in the dark

October 16, 2013 | Shawn Micallef | Comments (0)

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We had a fine warm night for last week's walk in Thorncliffe Park. Night walks are great to see another side of the city and walking in a group gives people who might not be completely comfortable walking at night some liberty. There is  another tonight (Oct 16) around The Peanut begining at the Fairview branch of the TPL. The downside is pictures are harder to come by at night. Above is the old Coca Cola headquarters, a modernist gem whose future is uncertain, but it's one that might include a CostCo store.

Photo 1

We began at the Thorncliffe library branch. Recently renovated (as many branches have been) here Islamic-inspired carpets were put in to reflect the surrounding population. When Thorncliffe was designed in the 1950s on the site of the Thorncliffe Park Raceway horse track it was expected to house around 15,000 people but now double that live here. One of Toronto's densest apartment neighbourhoods, that figure makes looking up at the lights different, knowing there are more people than average in all those apartments. There's always people on the street in Thorncliffe as a result. The buses are packed bringing people into and out of the neighbourhood.

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The mall at centre of Thorncliffe is the commercial heart of the neighbourhood, but, being a mall, it's still a private space, so the public spaces are incredibly valuable here. Enter Sabina Ali, chair of the Thorncliffe Park Women's Committee. She met our group to tell us about some of the work she's doing in the area, like the brand new tandoor oven (in a metal box behind her in the picture above) that was inspired by Dufferin Grove Park's pizza oven. It's at the centre of a whole lot of cultural and economic activity in and around the park.

Photo 2

In the park Sabina and her collegues organize markets throughout the warmer months where people who make things in their apartments can sell them. In traditional economic & immigration models, somebody who knew how to do something (say, hat making) would creat a storefront on their house if they were on a main street. This is why formerly residential streets across Toronto became commercial, like Church, Dundas, College, parts of Bathurst, Weston Rd, The Danforth into Scarborough, and on and on. Since that's impossible in an apartment, the markets play an important role for the local economy and personal entrepreneurship. These aren't hobbyists, and most certainly some of the stalls you'd find during one of the markets will be become mini-Toronto empires in time (or not so mini). There's an incredible amount of capacity in Toronto neighbourhoods like this waiting to be unleashed — think of them as hundreds of vertical cottage industries stacked and spread across the city — and markets like this help give these economies some oxygen.

Go visit whenever you can and buy things Made In Thorncliffe Park.

 

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There are a 1000 stories in the naked city, as the saying goes, and you should be writing some of them. Writer in Residence Shawn Micallef will be encouraging people to write about their city. Follow along here on city explorations and journeys into the library stacks. Shawn will also be posting some of the city-writing that he receives from people like you.

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