I don’t know about you, but I love taking the streetcar. I’m a window-seat guy and I easily while away the time just looking out at the city going past.

I used to live near Main Street Station so I took the #506 car a lot, especially after hours when the subways had stopped running. It’s probably one of my favourite lines as it passes through so many Toronto landmarks and neighbourhoods: from Little India, to two Chinatowns, Cabbagetown, Maple Leaf Gardens, Church St, Yonge St, Queens Park, U of T, Kensington Market, Little Italy, Roncesvalles, and finally ending in High Park.

Some time ago I decided I’d just ride it from one end to the other and photograph. This is some of what I got.

National Geographic published a Best Streetcar Trips list in 2007, and though it was the 501 across Queen Street that was listed in the world’s top ten, it was the 506 car that was rated the city’s best (don’t ask me how that math works though).

Above is a scene from Little India, a part of town that is bustles with activity on the weekends, but was empty this particular day.

Above is the corner of Broadview and Gerrard, Toronto’s Chinatown East. While smaller than the Chinatown on Spadina, this one reminds me much more of the Chinatown I remember as a child. The stores and restaurants aren’t all spic and span (which always seemed more “authentic” to me), and the prices are a bit lower too.

Between Chinatown East and Cabbagetown are some low income housing.  In Toronto’s modern political world they are slowly being taken over and gentrified.  The poor are pushed out in the name of ‘development.’  And quietly, ever so quietly, the downtown core’s residents become paler–while the lower income people what work to serve their needs surround the city in places like Scarborough, East York, North York, Mississauga, etc…

The above scene is from near Regent Park at Parliament and Gerrard.

The two above are from Cabbagetown, a middle-class neighbourhood sandwiched between lower-income St. Jamestown and Regent Park. I saw a man bolt out of the door of the Business Centre and I instinctively hit the shutter. As it was tax-time when I took this ride, I understood the impulse to run away!

Ahh, Maple Leaf Gardens… It’s been years since it closed. I remember going out to buy tix from scalpers after the first period during my first year uni days living at Ryerson Residence—good times. These days the place is just a depressing reminder of Toronto’s poor regard for its historic buildings (last I heard it was supposed to be made into a grocery superstore–sigh).

I like how the empty sidewalk and the cyclist coming into the scene give it an almost ghost-town sort of feel.

At Yonge and Carlton.

Queen’s Park and the University of Toronto.

Looking north up Spadina (from College St.). I’ve always liked that old building, it’s the old Knox College at U of T and it sits on one of the city’s few circular plots. According to an article I found on the ‘Varsity’ online, Amelia Earhart used to work there.

Remember when these weird posts (columns topped with cats, chairs, globes and other things) started springing up around Kensington a few years back. They’re supposed to represent the different communities and industries that resided here.

I was in Little Italy for the last World Cup and the place was mad crazy! The area (from Bathurst to Ossington) is usually a bit pricier than what I go for though.

The line ends surrounded by trees in High Park.

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[photos ©2008 alex felipe, All Rights Reserved.]

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