There are countless art galleries and institutions in this city: some are properties of design companies, charities and co-working spaces, but did you know that there is actually a building that houses all of these incredibly varied organizations under one roof? Let me introduce you to 401 Richmond. This unique Toronto locale is a restored (not renovated) industrial building located in the heart of the Fashion District. Personally, I am lucky enough to not only have worked in the space, but also attended writing workshops and art classes, as well as having spent many an afternoon browsing its many galleries dedicated to visual arts, 3D installations, music and so much more!
Frankly, I always find it more than a little heartbreaking that I only ever hear about this unique Toronto gem when corporate greed rears its ugly head and determines that something which once helped make the neighbourhood unique no longer fits its condo-filled future ideals. And while the ongoing gentrification of Toronto is a topic that does need to be discussed, this piece is more of a love letter to one of my favourite spots in the city, because really there is nothing else like it. After all, Torontonians could use a little more love (and a lot less gentrification!)
One of my favourite spots was a music shop/performance spot called Musideum, where music events were held almost every night. Athough Musideum has shut down for good, rest assured, there are still tons of performances and spaces dedicated to music at 401, so be sure to drop by, if that’s your jam!
Another one of my favourite things about the 401 is if you enter from the side entrance (right next to the café) and walk up to the second floor, you’ll find yourself face-to-face with a giant portrait of Jane Jacobs, a Canadian-American activist and one of the faces of modern urban planning! As a sociology major who entertained thoughts of getting a Masters in development (rural or urban, it didn’t matter), I have a soft spot for Jane — as do most of the folks at 401, hence the giant portrait.
As the weather attempts to warm, my go-to summer hang out is the 401 rooftop, where, surrounded by flowers and lazily buzzing bees, you can see all across Toronto! I spent my entire summer up there last year, hanging out with friends and co-workers and I definitely plan to do the same again this year. Perhaps I’ll see some of you there! I highly recommend you drop by (any day except Sunday) to experience a place that’s like nothing else in Toronto!