Google Street View offers a glimpse into the not-so-distant past

Located in the heart of Riversdale, 20th Street is now a major financial and cultural artery. Where pawn shops and dicey bars once reigned supreme, it is now checkered with upscale furniture stores, perpetually renovated office space and places to get brunch.

It’s an interesting part of the city. But then again it always has been.

Navigate Riversdale via Google Street View and you will see what looks like a very different neighbourhood.

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For a kid from the suburbs, the ‘hood had a dangerous, but enticing, reputation.

Punk shows sprang up in some of the most unlikely spots, like the Wah Qua Chinese smorg (now the parking lot next to the Farmer’s Market), the upstairs of Toon’s Kitchen (now the PAVED Arts centre) and in the alleyway entrance of the church on Avenue G (still a church).

Just a block off of the drag was Pure Hate Productions, a punk rock record store that sold some of the dirtiest grindcore ever. The best part? If you called to a phone that had call display (which was relatively new and uncommon in the mid ‘90s) the location would be shown as “Pure Hate”.

Thankfully the punks stuck around. Bands now play shows at the Underground Café while next-door neighbours Village Guitars host musicians on the folk end of things. And, if you’re one of those in the know, you can still catch one of the sporadic grind, punk, crust and hardcore sets at The Sweat Lodge.

- “Before” photos courtesy of Google Street View. All other photos via Ominocity.