Gentrification

   11 October 2005, early morning

“This ain’t the Drake.”

I guess if you haven’t been to the Drake Hotel in 15 or so years, you would be in for quite the shock. The place has changed. An old man walked in to the Drake just as my cousin and I were leaving the bar. His first words to us were, “It’s a little warm for a fire don’t you think?” The fire place was running. He then wandered around in disbelief before leaving the bar with my cousin and I. We took our time leaving to hear what else he had to say. He complained to us about yuppies before going on his way.

The funny thing about the encounter was that my cousin and I were discussing gentrification and how neighborhoods in the city can flip all of a sudden from slum to shiny-happy-land. This has happened most markedly along Queen St. West. I walked with my cousin, along this road, from the Drake all the way back downtown. This took us along pretty much all of the newly rejuvenated Queen St. West. We passed my cousin’s old street, which was down the road from a lonely-man motel he recalls was a second home to many prostitutes. (The motel is still there, I wonder if the prostitutes are?) We passed the park, where people were jogging and walking their dogs. This was a shock to him, as he recalls it being the sort of place you wouldn’t want to walk through. We actually made it all the way back to University road without crossing some tract we thought was even slightly slummy. It’s quite amazing.

Earlier, while my cousin and I were eating brunch at the Drake—the fact that I go for brunch at the Drake makes me a Yuppy and I hate myself—I was discussing Parkdale and how the neighborhood was nice till about the 1950s, got slummy after the Gardiner came up, and is now being revitalized, centered around the Liberty Village area. The bar tender, who had served my friends and I at the Sky Bar during the summer, came over to give us some water, and catching the portion of our conversation, interjected: “It is getting nicer, but I like my Parkdale. I’ll know the neighborhood is done when you can’t get a $1.25 stout.”

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Comments

  1. Ramanan, you are a yuppy…. ewww..

  2. I knew you’d come to accept it sooner or later.

  3. Parkdale is MY home too, and I say we bring back the hookers!

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