Yonge Street / Rue du Faubourg Saint Denis

Peter MacCallum


Throughout its history, the documentation of city streetscapes has been of enduring interest to photographers. Artists associated with this tradition include Charles Marville, Thomas Annan, Eugène Atget, Berenice Abbott, Gabriele Basilico and Thomas Struth.

MacCallum’s photographs contribute to this ongoing examination of urban form. Shot from 2007 to 2011, they set up a direct comparison between two central streets in two very different cities: Yonge Street in Toronto and Rue du Faubourg Saint Denis in Paris. MacCallum’s photos explore Yonge Street as a North American urban canyon, documenting everything from 19th-century row buildings to the latest megastructures supporting jumbo signage at Dundas Square.

A former main thoroughfare of Paris, the Rue du Faubourg Saint Denis begins at the Porte St. Denis, a major landmark, and spans the 10th Arrondissement. MacCallum shows the street’s row buildings and arcades, dating from the 19th-century, now occupied by new businesses serving the city’s immigrant communities.

Of interest to a general audience, this series will also be of value for architects and artists. MacCallum presents his work in an objective manner, leaving it up to the viewer to decide what his photos say about the two cities’ underlying urban philosophies.