Sunday, April 26, 2009

PDP #32: The Heart of the City

Back in December 2007, I managed to break out of my night-shift schedule for long enough to take a daytrip with my dad to Buffalo, New York. As the closest major city on the American side of the border, Buffalo has always been a magnet for exploration and discovery whenever I've crossed that line. Going to the United States has always felt to me like stepping into some kind of bizarro world, where everything is the same except for a few extremely minor differences that stand out all the more just for that reason.

It was 8 o'clock on a Saturday night when we passed through downtown Buffalo on our way back to Canada, and the place was absolutely and utterly deserted in a way that still unnerves me. The street was wide, the buildings tall and common, and in all respects it seemed like an ordinary downtown except for the near-total absence of people. I've since been told that many American downtowns are similarly hollow when the 9-to-5ers aren't around. Downtown Toronto pulses all through the day and deep into the night, and I've only recently realized how unusual that is for a North American city.

I took this photo last May from the roof of the Merchandise Building, looking southwest into Toronto's downtown core. It looks pretty much the same now, except for the then-under-construction stub of the Bay Adelaide Centre. Today, it is pleasingly blue.

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