Photos © Copyright, The Origami, Shin Jae Park
Saving Little India
The graveyard silence permeating the streets of Little India is broken only by a fluttering kit of pigeons, whose wings cast shadows on the façade of what once was the Naaz Theatre.
It’s morning on a weekday in fall, and most of the merchants are hibernating. I’m told the streetscape is liveliest in summer, when the air is heavy with the scent of incense and spices. In winter, the streets and shops are nearly as bare as the trees. Weekends offer an interlude of somewhat steady activity, enough to encourage storeowners to remain.
Some, though, have taken flight from this historic strip on Toronto’s Gerrard Street East, between Coxwell Avenue and Greenwood Avenue. Ten to 15 empty storefronts serve as a glaring reminder that things are not what they used to be. Rents have gone up, and without a reliable stream of customers, many businesses have taken a beating, says Subbu Chintaluri, the BIA manager of Gerrard India Bazaar.