Posted by: Waheeda Harris | December 7, 2012

The clash of Queen St. West

Toronto - love graffitiAs I watch the density of Toronto change every day, I’m reminded of how much has changed on one my favourite parts of the city, Queen Street West.

When I moved here, it was a defined part of the city – edgy, a bit rock ‘n’ roll, gritty and certainly not a place you would find lots of teens and shoppers.

Now its the neighbourhood of every major retail brand from H&M to Shoppers Drug Mart, with its sidewalks filled with young shoppers and fashionistas, a far cry from the leather jacket and Doc Marten’s crowd I encountered in the early 1990s.

There are few lasting influences of the past – The Horseshoe Tavern, which its endless array of good music on stage every night – and the maintenance of many Victorian buildings in the neighbourhood.

For visitors to the city, its a popular haunt, and for tweens and teens, its a hot spot for shopping, but for those of us who remember its past, its an area that we now pass through, heading farther west or east to find the local stores and restaurants that are more distinct and appeal to someone older than 21.

The alley running south of Queen St. West has been a popular spot for graffiti for a long time, and now I see the north side has also been claimed – as the street changes after recent fires and development planning, adding new facades and recognizable retail names, the area of parking and garbage is now filled with bright colours, swirls and images.

As I took this photograph just north of Queen Street West, I realized how ironic that a billboard in the background had the word love – a perfect sentiment for me for seeing the underground culture still existing in the face of gentrification, renovation and development.

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