Transitions through time

The changing architectural landscape of East York

The architectural landscape of East York and surrounding neighbourhoods has changed over the years.

Angela Mandalas, a real-estate agent who specializes in the four neighbourhoods of East York, Danforth, Riverdale and Playter Estates says she is not against the augmentation of old buildings with new, modern features — as long as they don’t tear apart what was originally there.

“[It] is really important to maintain and persevere what was there before,” says Mandalas. “We sometime don’t construct things in the same manner we did beforehand. For example, hand-cut crystal doorknobs, you can’t just go buy one at the store.”

Having purchased a period home in Playter Estates, Mandalas sees both the value and the challenges in restoring a historic building.

“Costs in new construction would be much cheaper than restoration. Restoration is preserving what’s already there, and it can be very difficult. If something hasn’t been preserved you have to duplicate what was there before.”

She gave the example of the bricks found on the 100-year-old homes in Riverdale. Often times bricks have not been preserved and they need to be replaced on the exterior of the home. Problems can occur, as modern bricks are much larger, and formed differently than those a century ago. This means that a simple exterior refinishing becomes a process of finding and sourcing 100-year-old bricks from other locations.

As we move forward, renovation and restoration will continue to be a vital part of the community, but new construction cannot be avoided.

As Mandalas puts it, “Some people don’t see the value in what was there to begin with, they often don’t understand the value of that. Or it’s easier for them to tear it down and start all over.”

Below is a photo gallery of buildings in the east end neighbourhood that have gone through transitions over the years. While many of the structures still closely resemble their original form, many have gone through total reconstruction, making the locations almost recognizable. The series of photos below demonstrates comparisons of locations in the East York community from the early 1900’s to today.

The southeast corner of Broadview Avenue and Danforth Avenue. Historic photo courtesy of City of Toronto Archives.
The southeast corner of Broadview and Danforth avenues. Historic photo courtesy of City of Toronto Archives. (Jeffrey Sze/Toronto Observer)

 

This church was once called the Danforth Baptist Church. It is now the Danforth Church. Historic photo courtesy of City of Toronto Archives.
This church was once called the Danforth Baptist Church. It is now the Danforth Church. Historic photo courtesy of City of Toronto Archives. (Jeffrey Sze/Toronto Observer)
Looking east on Danforth Avenue at Logan Avenue. Historic photo courtesy of City of Toronto Archives.
Looking east on Danforth Avenue at Logan Avenue. Historic photo courtesy of City of Toronto Archives. (Jeffrey Sze/Toronto Observer)
The northeast corner of Pape Avenue and Danforth Avenue. Historic photo courtesy of City of Toronto Archives.
The northeast corner of Pape and Danforth avenues. Historic photo courtesy of City of Toronto Archives. (Jeffrey Sze/Toronto Observer)
The bank at the northwest corner of Pape Avenue and Danforth Avenue still exists today. Historic photo courtesy of City of Toronto Archives.
The bank at the northwest corner of Pape and Danforth avenues still exists today. Historic photo courtesy of City of Toronto Archives. (Jeffrey Sze/Toronto Observer)
The northeast corner of Pape Avenue and Lipton Avenue. The Pape subway station is now located on this corner. Historic photo courtesy of City of Toronto Archives.
The northeast corner of Pape and Lipton avenues. The Pape subway station is now located on this corner. Historic photo courtesy of City of Toronto Archives. (Jeffrey Sze/Toronto Observer)