Thursday, February 18, 2010

BenchMark: Give Me Liberty and the Lamport Stadium Site

BenchMark Blogs: the Art Benches of Liberty Village
If you have missed the previous posts explaining the Liberty Village Benchmark program and the art benches we have located in our village go here to fetch them all and read the earlier posts. . This is the 12th post in the series to feature each of our 19 art benches in Liberty Village.

The bench I am featuring today is located on Liberty Street by the Lamport Stadium Parking Lot.  It is a new bench installed last summer and not yet on the BenchMark Map (LVBIA, take note)  If you want to see for your self - the Benchmark Map which can be accessed here - the bench is sort of where the "P" (for parking) is shown.
Titled "Give Me Liberty" is the work of Ian Amell and is sponsored by the Liberty Village BIA.  A few weeks ago I wrote about another of Ian Amell's benches - the smilies one -  "Face It".  You can read about the Liberty Village BIA at a previous TorontoIsMyTown blog or you can go to their web site here.

I must admit, the top bench  picture looks dismal (the blue sky not withstanding) - because it is winter and the only thing going for the location is the nice tree and a bit of grass in front of the parking lot.  Of course being winter there is no greenery in sight, but I guess we should be glad that there is not a mountain of snow covering up the bench.   The big white lump you do see is the winter covering for Lamport Stadium.  This year they got a "sports bubble " topper so that the stadium could be used in winter.

Allan A. Lamport Stadium, named for one of Toronto's past mayors, is a multi-purpose stadium on  King Street West between Fraser and Jefferson.  It was built in 1974 on the site of our long gone Women's Prison which is featured in the bench.  Until the BMO Field was built it was one of the cities major soccer fields.   Today, it is used mostly for soccer, with both Portugal FC and the Toronto FC's Academy playing their Canadian Soccer League home games here. The OUA's Ryerson Rams soccer teams also call the stadium home.  Also noteworthy, is that it hosts  the City's Caribana Celebrations each year. The stadium holds 9,600 people.

You would think for such a well used stadium it would have a better main entrance!  

OK, so lets get back to the bench.

Pictured on the right top side of the bench is the Mercer Reformatory for Women, which was demolished in 1965, nearly 10 years before Lamport Stadium was built on the site.  The only building remaining from the reformatory is the Superintendent's residence which is at the corner of Fraser and King Street, beside the stadium.

Mercer Reformatory for Women

On the left top side of the bench the artist has painted a picture of the Central Prison for Men, which was located further east in Liberty Village at King and Stratchan, right where we now have condominiums. 

The artist's comment on the bench: "When they had served their time they would have emerged onto Liberty Street."  which was how the street and our village got it's name.

Toronto's Central Prison for Men

The only building left today from the Central Prison is the Chapel building, which is located in Liberty Village Park, to be surrounded by Condo towers once all the residential buildings are finished.  I took the photo below from my balcony.   Rumour has it that the building will house a restaurant, but for now it is boarded up and will need a fair bit of work before it is able to be used for anything.

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