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City Form and Everyday Life

City Form and Everyday Life: Toronto's Gentrification and Critical Social Practice

Copyright Date: 1994
Pages: 253
  • Book Info
    City Form and Everyday Life
    Book Description:

    Drawing on a series of in-depth interviews among a segment of Toronto's inner-city, middle-class population, Caulfield argues that the seeds of gentrification have included patterns of critical social practice and that the 'gentrified' landscape is highly paradoxical.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7297-0
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Maps and Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xvi)

    This book is a case-study of urban change in Toronto. It focuses on the recent widespread pattern of middle-class residential settlement of older inner-city neighbourhoods formerly occupied mainly by working-class and underclass communities. This process is sometimes termed ‘gentrification,’ but this word probably obscures as much as it clarifies about the social forces at work. Hence, while the term does appear in several chapters that follow, it is often bracketed by quotation marks meant to indicate a problematic usage borrowed from another discourse. The reasons why it is problematic are discussed in due course.

    The book has three objectives. The...

  6. Part One CONTEXT

    • 1 Contrasts, Ironies, and Urban Form: The Remaking of the Historical City
      (pp. 5-40)

      Gladstone Avenue is in an inner-city planning district named Bloor-Dufferin centred around a subway station in west-end Toronto. Near the top of Gladstone are a pair of marginal storefront uses that have spilled around the corner from the Bloor Street commercial strip: an East Indian travel agency with a big picture of the Taj Mahal in the window, and a community agency with a sign over the door that says ‘Working Women Community Centre’ in English, Italian, and Portuguese; a bulletin board beside the door announces English-as-a-second-language classes and daycare services for single mothers.

      South of the storefronts, the commotion...

    • 2 Capital, Modernism, Boosterism: Forces in Toronto’s Postwar City-Building
      (pp. 41-60)

      In accounting for patterns of city-building in a case like Toronto in the 1950s and 1960s, it is important to distinguish between, on the one hand, thefactof urban growth or transition – the increasing scale of a metropolitan region or, within the region, changing patterns of urban function – and, on the other, specific landscapeformsthese processes were given.

      Growth was a central fact of Toronto life during the 1950s and 1960s. The city itself – the urban area’s inner municipality – was not the main locus of growth; its population (about 700,000) and workforce (about 470,000)...

    • 3 Reform, Deindustrialization, and the Redirection of City-Building
      (pp. 61-94)

      The popular movement that arose neighbourhood by neighbourhood across Toronto in opposition to the city’s patterns of postwar development reached critical mass in the early 1970s. In the 1972 municipal elections, the boosters who had dominated city council through the 1960s were abruptly reduced to a minority at city council. Among early initiatives of the new ‘reform’ majority were measures that reversed civic policy toward the inner city. Slash-and-burn renewal was terminated, replaced by planning oriented to neighbourhood protection and conservation of traditional urban forms.

      The political movement that brought about this shift of direction was not cohesive but encompassed...

  7. Part Two THEORY

    • 4 Postmodern Urbanism and the Canadian Corporate City
      (pp. 97-123)

      This chapter focuses on two key aspects of the broader social framework in which Toronto’s patterns of city-building since the 1960s have occurred, widely evident processes of metropolitan transition that must be reckoned into an account of ‘gentrification’ in any specific setting. The first is the advent of postmodernist urbanism, whose genesis and cultural and political meanings the chapter explores. Second, the chapter turns to the emerging residential geography of the corporate city.

      In general terms, the direction taken in many parts of Toronto’s inner-city landscape during the 1970s and 1980s may be described as anti-modernist or ‘postmodernist,’ a movement...

    • 5 Everyday Life, Inner-City Resettlement, and Critical Social Practice
      (pp. 124-148)

      As a theoretical concept, ‘gentrification’ has been elusive. The term has generally been used to denote middle-class resettlement of older inner-city neighbourhoods formerly occupied by working-class or underclass communities. But participants in this process have been highly demographically diverse. In Toronto, they have differed along a number of axes:

      Visibility and tenure. They have ranged from owner-occupiers of dilapidated old houses to tenants of developer-built batches of brand-new infill structures designed to resemble elegant old houses.

      Occupation and income. They have ranged from marginally employed creative workers (artists, musicians, actors, writers) earning their main income in part-time service jobs (as...

  8. Part Three FIELDWORK

    • 6 Fieldwork Strategy and First Reflections
      (pp. 151-168)

      This chapter introduces a group of middle-class resettlers of older inner-city neighbourhoods in Toronto who were interviewed about their residential preferences and everyday lives. It is important to stress from the outset that these individuals innosense represent ‘gentrifiers’ in general as the term has usually been used in academic or popular literature. Nor was the objective of fieldwork to explore comprehensively the emergent social fabric of the inner city of corporate-era urbanism. Rather, fieldwork sought to focus solely on the questions of whether the preferences of a segment of middle-class inner-city resettlers about their housing locales and everyday...

    • 7 Middle-Class Resettlers and Inner-City Lifeworlds
      (pp. 169-199)

      This chapter explores the main reasons discussed by respondents for their decision to live in inner-city neighbourhoods, reasons that are distilled to four distinct qualities of life they believe may be found in these locales: (i) a closely grained mix of, on the one hand, community and, on the other, the city as ‘a world of strangers’; (ii) demographic diversity; (iii) a tolerance and nourishment of non-traditional and marginal values; and (iv) spatial and architectural features of down-town and its neighbourhoods.

      Respondents repeatedly echoed the view that inner-city neighbourhoods have qualities of ‘community’:

      To me, downtown is very similar to...

    • 8 Perceptions of Inner-City Change: Eclipse of a Lifeworld?
      (pp. 200-218)

      The crux of respondents’ misgivings about the future of Toronto’s old downtown neighbourhoods focused on the increasing cost of inner-city housing in recent decades. As was reported in chapter 3, this was a fitful process that was centred mainly in three periods of rapidly rising prices during the mid-1970s, early 1980s, and late 1980s, episodes characterized by widespread speculative activity coupled with growing middle-class anxiety about diminishing opportunities to secure downtown housing. The third of these periods was concurrent with interviewing – timing that clearly influenced the intensity of respondents’ attitudes.

      In the months that followed fieldwork, Toronto’s housing market...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 219-230)

    Postmodern urban forms, like those of modernism, are often paradoxical, embodying both dominant and resistant social forces. The paradox of modernist urbanism derives from the appropriation and evisceration of its Utopian spirit by property capital and the technocratic local state. While there are clear similarities between such modernist visions as Le Corbusier’s sketches for the Contemporary City and the Plan Voisin and such features of current-day urban space as St Jamestown’s apartment towers or Regent Park’s public-housing blocks (or the clusters of high-rises often adjacent to suburban expressway corridors), it does violence to modernist thinking to ascribe construction of these...

  10. References
    (pp. 231-244)
  11. Index
    (pp. 245-253)