Impressions of the King St. Pilot Project

04 Jul


King Street, gazing west from near John Street toward Peter Street, at 9:15 pm on Thursday, June 28, 2018. The shadows of evening are enveloping the fading twilight in the western sky.

Taking advantage of the lengthened daylight hours of the first week of summer, I set out to photograph King Street. I chose the section between Bathurst and Simcoe Streets, as this is the area where many restaurateurs have taken advantage of the extra space in the roadway created by the Pilot Project. There has been much controversy over the Project, which favours pedestrian and streetcar traffic over automobiles. My goal was to see for myself the impact of the Project on the street. The photographs that follow were all taken after 9 pm, when the sun was fading in the west and the lights of evening were increasingly emerging. The long twilight offered unique lighting conditions that exist at our latitude for only about two weeks each year.

As I strolled along, I noticed that ambiance of the street had changed greatly. Because it was relatively free of cars, it was quiet. Not dead, but quiet. People were embracing the street and the safety it provided, as the automobile traffic was greatly diminished. There were more cyclists than before the Project, due to the abundance of open space. The air was cleaner as exhaust fumes were reduced. Gone were the noise and chaos of traffic, and instead, people were relaxing and enjoying themselves. It was as if the hustle and bustle of city life no longer existed.

Dominating the evening air were laughter, lively conversations, the tinkle of wine glasses, and the clink of cutlery and dishes. Amidst the happy sound of human activity, the graceful new Toronto streetcars quietly glided past, their presence animating the scene. Similar to cities in Europe that I have visited—Rome, Paris, Barcelona, Athens, Lisbon—the traffic seemed to be only inches away from the tables, with their white tablecloths. No one seemed to be bothered by this phenomenon. However, in reality, there are almost five feet between the streetcars and the patios, providing sufficient space for cyclists to pass. It was a scene I had never before witnessed in Toronto. Was this really my city?  


The patio of Cibo restaurant on the northeast corner of Brant and King Streets.


The north side of King Street from a short distance east of Brant Street, the patio operated by Cibo restaurant.


I believe that this patio is owned by Patria. It is a short distance west of Spadina. I noticed that taxis have adjusted to the conditions imposed by the Project and are becoming more common on the street.


                  The patio of Patria, viewed from its east side.


Patio of Weslodge, near the corner of Spadina and King Street.


Chairs provided by the City of Toronto. View gazes east on King Street toward Peter Street. These chairs are usually fully occupied by office workers during the lunch hour on weekdays.


The south side of King St. opposite the Bell Lightbox, looking east toward John Street. Several restaurant have taken advantage of the space created by the Pilot Project to extend their patios into the roadway beyond the sidewalk.


                  View of the same patios looking west toward Peter Street.


Another patio on King Street to the west of John Street, the Bell Lightbox in the background.


The Princess of Wales Theatre, view gazing east on King Street toward Duncan Street. 


The Royal Alexandra Theatre, in the foreground some of the chairs placed in the street by the City to reclaim a part of the roadway for pedestrians.


A sculpture created by plastic cartons on which people can sit and watch the passing scene.


This photo was taken at 9:35 pm, and though the chairs are enveloped in the shadows of evening, light remains in the eastern sky. The chairs face David Pecaut Park, on the east side of Metro Hall. These chairs are mainly occupied by office workers during lunch hours, Monday to Friday, rather than in the evenings or on weekends.


People enjoying interactive art work on the south side of King Street, west of Simcoe Street. The pegs on the boards are used to create shapes.


Someone has created the shape of a human body by employing the pegs.


The Roy Thomson Hall at King and Simcoe Streets, at 9:40 pm on June 28, 2018.

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              Books by the Author


“ Lost Toronto”—employing detailed archival photographs, this recaptures the city’s lost theatres, sporting venues, bars, restaurants and shops. This richly illustrated book brings some of Toronto’s most remarkable buildings and much-loved venues back to life. From the loss of John Strachan’s Bishop’s Palace in 1890 to the scrapping of the S. S. Cayuga in 1960 and the closure of the HMV Superstore in 2017, these pages cover more than 150 years of the city’s built heritage to reveal a Toronto that once was.



Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses. To place an order for this book, published by History Press: .

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)



“Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again” explores 81 theatres. It contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by |Toronto Life Magazine:…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: 


 Toronto: Then and Now®

“Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21


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