Thursday, November 10, 2005

the backstreets of toronto: kensington place

Most weekends, I take a "Sunday Constitutional" walk downtown. The route rarely deviates - start at Osgoode station, head out Queen West, then backtrack through Kensington Market. Any health benefits are usually reversed by snacks along the way - try resisting a warm pupusa or empanada on Augusta or goodies from the bakeries along Baldwin. Vendors and pedestrians vie for space along the sidewalks. Crowded, but cozy.

And full of short side streets to wander.

The next few installments will explore the neighbourhood, starting with a hidden street that shares the area's name - Kensington Place (marked in green below).

According to the Kensington Alive Virtual Tour, Kensington Place, along nearby streets Fitzroy Terrace and Glen Baillie Place, was built around 1888 to provide homes for English construction workers, the first of many immigrant waves in the neighbourhood.

The gateway to Kensington Place, on Kensington Ave slightly south of St. Andrew. This marks the northern edge of the clothing stores that line the avenue, which were hopping with last-minute Halloween shoppers the day these photos were taken (more on this in an upcoming Fitzroy Terrace post).

Closeup on the entrance sign. Unless the alley has another name or is considered part of the street, Kensington Place might not intersect any other TO road. If there was a standard white sign, it's long gone - I imagine it would be one of those items somebody has stashed in a backyard or uses as home decor.

Walking up the tag-filled approach. Neighbourhood watch dead ahead.

A rare example of a DIY street sign in Toronto, suited to the neighbourhood's vibe. May no stickler from the city attempt to replace this with a newfangled large street sign!

The north end of Kensington Place, complete with a place to sit, unlike most of the market (public benches, not patios).

Here, have a seat. Grab a book from your backpack. Observe the row housing. Relax and stare at...

...the fishiest dwelling on the block.

The south end of the street. Very quiet compared to the bustle of Kensington Ave - the only action happening was a resident raking leaves. Might be ideal for NHL rink-length game of road hockey.

More tagging on the east side of the street, just before it's time to head back down the approach.

Heading back to Kensington Ave. Fruit stand dead ahead, with scientific experiments in organic decay on display.

An audio guide to Kensington Place, located at Murmur.

The stroll around Kensington Market will continue... - JB

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