Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Yonge-Dundas Square

Today's guest speaker explicitly stated his disdain for the Yonge and Dundas intersection. Yet I wrote it down last week as my favorite one in Toronto. I can't say that it is the only one, I'm sure that everyone in the class could have listed several places they feel a connection with. But it was the first intersection that came to my mind and, incidentally, one of the first places I visited in Toronto. I arrived here from Belgium at the end of July 2005. I first walked down Yonge Street on August 6th (thank you, diary) and marvelled at the mixture of "funky stores, seedy stores, restaurants, book stores, grocery stores, adult video stores, internet cafes and coffee shops". The consumerist temple that is the Eaton Center overwhelmed me - I distinctly remember a sense of overstimulation - the billboards, the shoppers, the oddballs, the sheer size of the actual mall...I have since seen Times Square and understand Shawn's opinion of YD Square. But then I remember the gorgeous summer night when a friend and I stumbled upon a PWYC rendition of "Guys and Dolls" there. I think about how much I enjoy walking down both Yonge and Dundas on my way to the fundamentally dissimilar areas of Yorkville and Chinatown. So what if it's "not New York"? It's different, more intimate and deserving of recognition.


Blogger Sharon said...

One of the best things about Yonge-Dundas square (and that area) is that it really captures what I think is an important aspect of Toronto - grunge exists alongside glamour, and neither contests the presence of the other. I have mixed feelings about the square itself - it is a striking contrast to the commotion that exists all around it (and which inexplicably halts within it). The design is like a pointed commentary on the need for solitude within the city. The intent is admirable but the effect is more dissonant than tranquil. The public doesn’t seem to know what to do with Yonge-Dundas Square. The city organizes plenty of public events to occupy the square and encourage its use (I would have loved to see Guys and Dolls!) but when a scheduled event is not taking place, people avoid the square. To be fair, its design is not conducive to gathering, particularly in a cold climate. Perhaps in the summer months the square, whose design is admittedly striking, will be used to its potential (I am somewhat of an unfair critic - I haven't really been around in the summers since its unveiling to see whether this is the case). However, it seems less an oasis in the middle of a concrete jungle than an eerily aloof and unwelcoming space, at odds with its amiable, albeit chaotic, surroundings. That said, I do enjoy it - it's good to feel jarred by your surroundings sometimes, and it definitely is an interesting topic of conversation!

1/18/2006 12:33 AM  

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