I ran across a quote the other day from actor Ed Begley Jr.: “When we destroy something created by man we call it vandalism but when we destroy something by nature we call it progress”.
This stopped me in my tracks as I thought about it. True, there is a difference when it’s between untouched nature and a lifeless parking lot in downtown Toronto, but what if we’re talking about progress in terms of leveling an established neighbourhood building? Should we hold the significance of a valued and aesthetically pleasing human-made structure in the same light as an untouched forest?
A lot of this came to mind when I last walked by the intersection of Bay and St Joseph Streets where the 1 Thousand Bay condo is taking root. It was the first time I saw the intersection without the iconic Bistro 990 restaurant there. Although not a historically protected building (even though it looked as old as the hills in Toronto…) it seems a shame that it disappeared.
It had a quaint European flare to it with wooden shingles, old-fashioned window frames and a rustic stucco facade. It was the home to many Toronto International Film Festival parties, Winterlicious and Summerlicious events and had been a neighbourhood spot for get-togethers for years. And in a flash, it’s now gone.
The tower to take its place will be a gleaming glass condo of about 32 stories and 400 units, taking up the entire existing parking lot and the former location of Bistro 990.
Rarely does nostalgia hit me as condo developments rise up in the Bay Street Condo Corridor. Perhaps because we have been fortunate enough to only affect parking lots up until this point. And when a historic building has shifted plans for a builder, they have often incorporated the existing building into the plans. However, this is a unique time when a goodbye must be said to a landmark building.
Farewell Bistro 990. It was swell while it lasted!