If you’re searching for a stunning view of downtown, visit the Toronto Archives and ask for Box 83705.
Within, you’ll find details of a 1929 plan to transform Toronto’s downtown into a slice of Paris, with grand boulevards, wide streets and an architecturally splendid traffic circle.
This plan died at the birth of the Great Depression.
“If you step back and you ask, ‘How many truly beautiful, really beautiful streets does Toronto have?’ there is going to be a long hesitation,” says University of Toronto architecture professor Larry Richards.
Here and there, small streets are lovely for a few blocks, he says. Queen Street is incredible, University Avenue is great but doesn’t last long.
“After that, you really have to scratch your head,” he continues. “Toronto just has not been very good at building a system of truly beautiful, pleasant, enduring boulevards. That one moment it could have happened,” he says of the 1929 plan.