Torontoist danforthensis often takes the long shortcut to the high street that runs up a nearby laneway. Like a lot of the downtown residential areas that were originally for working people who couldn’t afford the land for a driveway beside the house, the Danforth is blessed with alleys. Graeme Parry’s great Laneing site sports a map that shows you where the lanes are for a number of neighbourhoods, none of which is the one Torontoist d. calls home, alas. So we shall have to provide one… soon.
Why take the back road? Well, for one thing, you see things you don’t see on the street. Some people feel better able to express themselves out of the gaze of the crowd. Take this gentleman, for example.
These are not pink flamingoes, folks: you wouldn’t do this in your front yard. With a mixture of shyness and pride the hen wrangler informed us that he puts the birds out from time to time to make it feel more like the old country. It works, and it delights.
And then there are the curious statements you can make in a laneway because it’s public but safe for creativity, shall we say. Taggers tend to practice in laneways, and swains write Dave + Lucy on the backs of stores after hours. Just up from the man with the fowl, you’ll find a whimsical example of this semi-public art, but done in different media.
Clearly this has to be called a shoe tree, something that wouldn’t grow in a garden.
And alleyways, being at the back, give access to that part of people’s properties where there’s room for projects. Here’s a scientist, it seems, working to get off the grid if only a little bit, and curious about the weather in this precise microclimate.
All this and more in a scant three blocks of a laneway back of the Danforth.