Friday, December 14, 2018

Historic glass in a transient space

Not quite transparent
Toronto, ON
December 2018
This photo originally shared on Instagram
The architecture in Toronto's Union Station is impossibly ornate, offering up treats for the eye throughout the Great Hall's cavernous volume. By the numbers, an average airport terminal might be mathematically larger, but it'll never come close to the visceral combination of space, history, craftsmanship, and reverence that defines this crossroads of humanity.

I'm here every week, just one of countless thousands of people heading to something better, somewhere else. This, too, is overwhelming, a never-ending wave of bodies, heads looking down, hands buried in pockets, ears plugged with headphones, the sound of footsteps mostly covering up conversations, greetings, goodbyes. Then there's the odd - and very Canadian - "Sorry" as intersecting pedestrians try, and fail, to avoid each other.

Everybody here is keenly aware of time: When they need to be at their platform; whether they're running late for their first meeting of the day; why their colleague isn't here yet. Yet nobody seems to look up, or around, or at each other. For a place built to be a convergence point of humanity, there's very little actual convergence going on. Folks largely keep to themselves, focused on the singular mission of being elsewhere, quickly.

Massive iron-and-stone-framed translucent windows dominate either end of the hall, steampunk leftovers that paint its otherwise cold marble surfaces with warm light during the morning and afternoon rush periods. Yet these, too, go largely ignored by the teeming masses on the floors below.

It isn't my place to ask why, or to answer the riddle of this place. I simply stepped out of the never-ending crowds into a quiet spot in the corner and tried to tell one small piece of this very large building's story. On this day, elsewhere could wait an extra few minutes, even if my fellow travellers couldn't.

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