Friday, March 27, 2009

PDP #18: The Fall of Regent Park

Regent Park, a neighborhood at the eastern fringe of downtown Toronto, was the site of Canada's first experiment in social housing. Shortly after the end of the war rows upon rows of apartment blocks rose up between Parliament and River and Dundas and Gerrard, separated by landscaped greenways and served by narrow access roads that wound like sidewinders. As time went by, it became one of Toronto's most impoverished neighborhoods, with well over 60% of the population reported as "low income" in 2006.

Today, Regent Park is ground zero for a new experiment, the construction of a social housing center for the 21st century. Visit the intersection of Dundas Street East and Parliament today, and you'll find a silver tower rising. Before this new work could be built, though, the old had to be brought down.

I took today's photograph on July 17, 2006, through the gaps in a chain-link fence. The stubs at the left are all that remained of a building that otherwise looked essentially the same as the structure on the right; its turn for the wrecking ball was to come later.

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