Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Street Level Activity FAIL

A pet peeve of mine: why do we dislike windows in the downtown ?

In some cities I've been to, looking out onto the street is a good thing. Pubs, restaurants have windows that open onto the street. It makes the atmosphere nice inside, has a safety factor for people on the street and it lets people outside know that there's something going on inside.

For some reason in our downtown we seem to celebrate the fact that we can live without any relation to the street. You'll see lots of cars parked around the place but have no idea why.

I've been to places like Shannon's or the Windsor on a weeknight when the place is packed with people listening to live music. I have waited for a table at Paradise restaurant on Portage because it is full. From the outside, however, you would drive by and not know whether or not the place is even open, much less full of people.

Now, of course, some establishments have little choice but to be sealed off from the street. But I saw something annoying today....the Residences on York / Lobby on York restaurant (formerly The Sheraton / Window's Lounge) is concreting over their street level windows. Sighhh...

Other former windows:

This place might as well not have any:
Okay, my moan is done !


Anonymous said...

As a fellow downtowner resident, I think the obvious answer is that we don't like windows because they get broken so often by drunks, punks, thugs and fools who can reach them at ground level so easily.

There's one new store about a block away from me that seems to have had its main display window - through which you can actually see inside ;-) - broken at least twice in the last six months.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Agree Mr. C, this stuff has to spill out onto the street.

You are right Anon, the vandalism can be brutal for a proprietor. One of them just moved out to Osborne village because of the window bashing.

Perhaps some of these places are just to isolated. The Windsor stands alone, but would definitely add some feel good with music spilling out onto the street.

We are along long way from New Orleans both in distance and concept, but it wouldn't be that difficult to recreate.

mrchristian said...

@ anon. I agree that can be an issue but there are options to just removing them.

@ Mr.N -Isolation, true is a problem for these places. When you're surrounded by a lot of http://www.flickr.com/photos/christiansphotos/3692691609

I was in Austin a couple of years back and their famed 6th ave was a lot like ... Selkirk Ave. Nothing fancy just plain, old buildings but they all had their windows, let the music flow out and it gave it a really great vibe.

Anonymous said...

That may be an option, take an older street that had character , and may still have a little left , and begin a transformation of sorts.

Selkirk is a good street and so is Sargent. ( La Grotta is moving out so whatever immigrant flavor from the 1950's/60's is vanishing )

Perhaps the West End Cultural Center could be the anchor ....but definitely , the potential is there.

Now all we need is some legislation and some incentives.

Bryan Scott said...

Great post.

It should be mandated that a relatively high percentage of main floor frontage be devoted to windows (at least on certain high-profile streets). The Dollaramas on Portage Avenue and Main Street make me wince every time I see them.

mrchristian said...

Oh yeah, Dollarama. I remember seeing them blacking out the windows onto Portage in the winter. I thought they were just decalling them or something but nope.

Brewmaster Dave said...

Regarding the Inukshuk (sp?) motif on the Pyramid:
Having worked there for a few years, I can safely say that's not a lost window. That's where we used to store the empty beer bottles.

Close to the door for loadout on delivery days. Much easier on my back and the drivers.