Then & Now: Woodbine at Queen East

Woodbine, looking north from Queen East, c. 1972. Image: Toronto Public Library, Beaches, LOCHIST-BE-40.

It has not been often that I’ve posted “then and now” photos here on Margins. While browsing the photographs that have been digitized by the Toronto Public Library this evening, I was reminded of one of the more influential-to-me discussion threads on the Urban Toronto boards: Miscellany Toronto Photographs: Then and Now. Although it has slowed down considerably in recent times, the nearly 900 page discussion is a rich one.

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“A ‘Little Mexico’ on Lake Ontario” (The El Pueblo Townhouses, 1971-73)

Rippin' up Beech Avenue too. The El Pueblo apartments are there in all of their splendour.
The El Pueblo townhouses in all of their splendour. Image: Littlest Hobo, Season 2, Episode 2 “Duddleman and the Diamond Ring.” (1980)

Recently, I read a post by historian Richard White on his blog Historical Perspectives on Toronto Planning called “Rejected Development.” Perhaps best known for his his recent publication, Planning Toronto: The Planners, The Plans, Their Legacies, 1940-80I read it with interest. In making an argument that planners in the postwar era did not always want to “‘bulldoze’ everything old and replace it with some lifeless, modern, tower-in-the-park sort of structure,” White offers the example of the rejected River Oaks tower development on Beech Avenue in the Beaches neighbourhood. The El Pueblo townhouse complex, which was constructed in its stead, has always stood out to me. Not only have I walked past it on a few occasions, but as a regular watcher of The Littlest Hobo, it was familiar.

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