“The bedrock attribute of a successful city district is that a person must feel personally safe and secure on the street among all these strangers.” ― Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
This month we teamed up with Kowthar Omar, the journalist behind Humans of Toronto, to walk the streets of West Queen West and strike up conversations with as many people as possible.
Much like its New York namesake, Humans of Toronto is about sharing stories of people from all walks of life. Kowthar believes that “people are ultimately looking to share experience. I think people are open because nobody really goes around doing this, so it’s lovely to have someone come up and ask you questions about what you think and feel about things.”
On a bright and beautiful August day, the people we met on Queen Street West were kind, open and excited to share their stories — stories that highlight how this corner of the west end is a welcoming urban space for locals and travellers alike.
Read stories from a few of the great humans we met below, and make sure to follow Humans of Toronto for more amazing profiles and photographs (including more features from Queen Street West)!
“I have always wanted an open space and we ended up in the west end because I was used to living here and it’s where by brother lives, so I was never really going anywhere else. Growing up, I thought I’d end up living in the west because I am an artist and that’s where I thought we all lived. Also, because I have Morty with me, I needed a place near parks. There’s Trinity, Stanley, High Park on a cooler day, and the water nearby, so that’s how we ended up in this area, there’s lots of recreational space. You also don’t have to go far for anything in this neighbourhood. I see more patience around here in Queen West because there are so many people dealing with so many different things. But there also seems to be a distinct economic gap between people who are struggling and people who are aware that people are struggling. My disability is not that obvious, not that I’d like it to be either because I don’t feel that alienated every minute of the day. Then again, there is no comparative scale for disability, it is what it is.”
“We’re from out of town, and our plan today was to see as much as we could and we chose to do Queen Street West, and you’re now catching us making our way back to Union. I thought that there would be a lot of cool stuff we could see down here, and yes, it’s one of the coolest streets, there’s a lot of funky stuff. I enjoy this city because I like seeing people that are different than I am, and in my mind, that’s what Queen Street represents.”
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