Art deco is lovely, gargoyles are wonderful, in combination we are always visually delighted to a high degree. The finish and proportions of this building, completed in 1933, just a few steps away from Yonge on the N side of Carlton are also quite lovely, despite the loss of it’s original chrome.
It’s designers were Chapman and Oxley (Palais Royale, the Bay on Queen, Toronto Harbour Commission, the ROM Deco wing, and the old Reference Library on College), and I learned something curious when I checked into them a bit – this project was one of many in Toronto, and indeed around the world, which were greatly scaled-back from original intentions, due to the great depression.
Indeed, the combination of architectural ambition, fine style, high building quality and celebratory wealth would not return again – which makes these missed opportunities (and the many demolished gems) hurt.
The Ontario Hydro building (which is now Princess Margaret Hospital) on University, was originally built as a six-story structure, and later had ten more added, when optimism returned (Sproat’s lovely College Park, about which I’ll post soon, was another intended to be far more ambitious than it’s realized form).
This beauty, commissioned by Toronto Hydro, was finally built at a sober ten stories – and remains there serving it’s original tenant (3.6 Billion annual revenue, thank you very much) down to this very day. Awfully nice ten stories though. No one is complaining.
Worth remembering – for many decades, the NE corner of Yonge and Carlton hosted one of the most charming natural confluences of urban chaos music in the city – especially grand and diverse in December.
Not just tin-can-honking Christmas tunes pumped out a plastic-klaxon-PA, by the Laura Secord candy store, there was also a Salvation Army brass band stationed on the far corner by College Park, and an irrepressibly cheerful and seriously jazzy vibraphonist tucked-in neatly, just behind the street-level subway entrance.
But the orchestral timbre I miss the most from the whole ensemble was one that sounded year-round, rain and shine – a ceaseless fog-piercing nasal call which I still hear in my mind to this very day whenever I walk by – though it’s recitalist was gone from his ancient perch even before the century ended.
“Get your pay-PERS, papers he-ERE,” from the very last sidewalk newsstand in the whole downtown core. Hilarious business, really, his entire shop folded-up into a big steel box, but he always had the latest edition of everything crucial, hot off the press – back when that was the most current up-to-date and useful news that a person could get their hands on! Knew all the beat-cops, the actors, the brokers and the hacks.
I know, trees-good, etc – but so were editors – and even ink-smeared fingers!