Gutted Hospital Wing
Originally uploaded by Points North.
I know Hospital Row quite well and though go by it fairly often, was shocked and surprised a couple months ago or so to see the tiny original hospital gone, reduced to rubble. This after the Bell Wing was torn down completely to make way for a boring steel and glass edifice that seems to have its front stuck onto the rest of it. Yet the Norman Urqhart wing, in all its boring modernity (OK its frontage is good) remains standing.
Now College Wing stands gutted and alone. Gone are its blacked out front vestibule, reminiscent of the Bell Wing, where you can imagine in days gone by a friendly face would greet you and direct you to the patient room you were seeking. Gone are the wide hallways, pukey green and robins egg blue rooms; gone are the labyrinth of research rooms and shortcuts to all of the Toronto General Hospital...or so I'm assuming as maybe they left the basement alone.
They gutted it whole and stuck a giant sticker on its side, like a child claiming his right to a toy, to abuse it and tear it apart as he sees fit.
Why do people think that by hollowing out a noble building (whether noble in design or function or both) and ridding it of all its interior uniqueness that they have preserved its history? Why do restorators and keepers of our heritage believe that the only part of a building that counts is its outer shell?
I'm truly upset that first the interior of the small original hospital was vandalized over the years, then the whole thing blasted into oblivion. And I'm upset that this same bunch of bottom-line-thinking men who did this have vanquished the entire history of the Toronto General, as if it meant nothing. Medical history was made in those rooms, and now there is no touchstone left for those events.
The powers that be slap an historic marker on various buildings, then drag their feet on designating them long enough so that developers can smash the place to bits, then shrug the responsibility of preserving our heritage off their shoulders, like Jane Pitfield did recently vis-a-vis the Inn on the Park on Leslie, in order to make way for a car dealership...a CAR DEALERSHIP?!
Toronto is abandoning its history, as if we have nothing to be proud of; our politicians make sympathetic noises only when it's too late; and our media blow so much hot air after the fact. And what are we doing about it?