This article was originally published on ArchDaily on 13 February 2018. The City of Toronto has a long, fraught relationship with development and vacancy. The map of the initial Toronto Purchase of 1787 between the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation and the British Crown, which would later establish the colonial territory that became Toronto, conceives of the landscape as a single, clearly defined vacant lot anxious for development. Or, as artist Luis Jacob better described it, “signifying nothing but an empty page waiting to be inscribed at will.” Over two-hundred years later, as housing availability, prices, and rental shortages drive vertical condominium developments in the city, the politics of the vacant lot have never felt so palpable. The first condominiums appeared in Toronto during the late 1960s as a solution to a crisis of affordable housing. By 1981, the newspaper The Globe and Mail would prophetically report that "vacant lots all over downtown Toronto are sprouting condominiums of late.” The Globe would further lament that "no sooner has one of the glamorous edifices begun to climb the Toronto skyline than the sold out sign is posted, and the next development announced.” After a 30% drop in prices during the 1990s, the early 2000s saw the expansion of Toronto’s “condo euphoria” with sites zoned across the Greater Toronto Area from CityPlace to College Park. Now, these towering edifices—captured here by photographer Manuel Alvarez Diestro—have become icons of both the city’s downtown identity as well as capital-driven development.
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