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Historic Market Street rises anew amid Toronto modern

It's been a labour of love for Woodcliffe Landmark Properties, but the firm is ready to show off its painstaking restoration of a street just west of St. Lawrence Market

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Before: The yellow-painted brick front of the historic Armoury Hotel in the middle of Toronto’s Market Street had seriously deteriorated as it had stood empty for more than a decade.

Woodcliffe Landmark Properties

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After: The 150-year-old exterior bricks were meticulously removed and relaid with their insides out to put a fresh face on the building. The Woodcliffe project tackled the renovation of three heritage buildings which date back to 1858 and the addition of a new building.

Woodcliffe Landmark Properties

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This former complex at the corner of Front and Jarvis streets housed Toronto’s city hall and the armoury during the last half of the 1800s. Part of the centre building that held the council chambers were preserved as part of the current St. Lawrence Market building that was built on the site.

Toronto city archives

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St. Lawrence Market received a major restoration in the 1970s. This photo is shot looking west from Jarvis Street. Market Street runs along the western side of the building.

Toronto city archives

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Most of the buildings in this photo looking east on King Street to Jarvis in the 1890s still stand today and after renovations bring rents significantly higher than more modern buildings in the area. At the far corner is the St. Lawrence Hall, built in 1850 after a great fire burned the market district.

Toronto city archives

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Most streets were still unpaved in what was nicknamed Muddy York in 1890 when his photo was taken on Front Street looking east toward the market. This horse cart mired in the mud is bravely labelled City Express.

Toronto city archives

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Seen here in full restoration mode in 2013, Market Street has been repaved with stone-coloured bricks that cover the entire street.

Woodcliffe Landmark Properties

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The restoration included replacement of sewers and new water and gas mains.

Woodcliffe Landmark Properties

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Market Street as seen recently from the second floor of the St. Lawrence Market. Removable bollards mark off summer patio space for restaurants located in the refurbished buildings. In the winter, the patios will be stored away and the bollards removed to allow paid parking on both sides of the street.

Woodcliffe Landmark Properties

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Then: Front Street as it appeared before high-rise development looking west from Jarvis Street to the iconic Flatiron Building at Church Street.

Toronto city archives

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Now: The same view looking west on Front toward Toronto’s downtown today. Modern high rise condominiums and office towers have risen around the historic market area, greatly increasing the potential audience for restaurants.

Woodcliffe Landmark Properties

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Woodcliffe developer Eve Lewis, who completed her husband’s dream of restoring Market Street, hopes the city will eventually agree to close it off as a pedestrian zone “at least in the nicest part of the year from May to October.” Read the full story on the street’s restoration at the link below: Market Street looks back – and to the future

Wallace Immen/The Globe and Mail

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