In 1837 the Dominion Government provided the land on which Waterworks sits as the site for a third public market. The other two, the St. Lawrence Market and St. Patrick’s Market on Queen Street West, were deemed not sufficient to effectively meet the needs of a growing city. The first permanent market, built in 1850, was a wooden structure which also housed a police station, library, community hall and a fire bell. That building was subsequently and totally destroyed by fire. Then, in 1873, a new building, designed in the Renaissance Revival style by architect Thomas Young, was built and the market flourished briefly until patronage declined to such a point that it became unfeasible to continue operations. At the turn of the century the market was effectively closed and remained that way until it was demolished in 1932.
At the end of the Great Depression and with a desire to provide work for the unemployed, all three levels of government provided the opportunity and funding to build the City’s Water Works Building on the site. Designed in the, trendy at the time, Art Deco Style, it remains today much the same as it was when first built. For its next incarnation the Water Works Building will evolve into downtown Toronto’s most innovative and exciting lifestyle destinations with 299 spectacular condominiums, a magnificent Food Hall that will become the heart and soul of the neighbourhood and Toronto’s newest YMCA. This is the new Waterworks.
As an interesting sidebar to the story, in 1909 the city designated the south end of the property to be the first supervised children’s playground. St. Andrew's Playground remains here today serving as a popular meeting place for neighbourhood residents, their children and pets.
It’s impossible to untangle the interconnected elements that define the architectural language of Waterworks. It’s a true mixed-use development that artfully incorporates the stunning, circa 1932, Art Deco style of the historic Water Works Building and the chic, urban attitude of the U-shaped residential structure that rises above it. This architecture is as complex as it is simple. Within its walls are 290 beautifully designed and crafted city condos, a state-of-the-art YMCA facility and a spectacular Food Hall reminiscent of the great food emporiums of Europe and New York.