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Toronto: Transformations in a City and Its Region

Edward Relph
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Extending a hundred miles across south-central Ontario, Toronto is the fifth largest metropolitan area in North America, with the highest population density and the busiest expressway. At its core old Toronto consists of walkable neighborhoods and a financial district deeply connected to the global economy. Newer parts of the region have downtown centers linked by networks of arterial roads and expressways, employment districts with most of the region's jobs, and ethnically diverse suburbs where English is a minority language. About half the population is foreign-born-the highest proportion in the developed world. Population growth because of immigration-almost three million in thirty years-shows few signs of abating, but recently implemented regional strategies aim to contain future urban expansion within a greenbelt and to accommodate growth by increasing densities in designated urban centers served by public transit.

    Toronto: Transformations in a City and Its Regiontraces the city's development from a British colonial outpost established in 1793 to the multicultural, polycentric metropolitan region of today. Though the original grid survey and much of the streetcar city created a century ago have endured, they have been supplemented by remarkable changes over the past fifty years in the context of economic and social globalization. Geographer Edward Relph's broad-stroke portrait of the urban region draws on the ideas of two renowned Torontonians-Jane Jacobs and Marshall McLuhan-to provide an interpretation of how its current forms and landscapes came to be as they are, the values they embody, and how they may change once again.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0918-1
    Subjects: Population Studies, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Chapter 1 Urban Transformations
    (pp. 1-11)

    In the 1960s Toronto was, by almost any measure, a provincial industrial city. Robert Fulford, a Canadian journalist who grew up there in the 1950s, described it as “a city of silence, a private city, where all the best meals were eaten at home . . . a mute, inward-turned metropolis.” At that time it was the second largest city in Canada with a population of about one and a half million, but in almost every way—population, economic clout, fashion, self-image—it remained as it had always been since it was founded in the 1790s, clearly subservient to Montreal.¹...

  5. Chapter 2 Confused Identities
    (pp. 12-26)

    There’s a local urban myth, probably based on a claim by the nineteenth-century Torontonian Henry Scadding, that “Toronto” is the indigenous name of the site where the present city began and that it means “place of meeting’’ or “gathering place.” While this is a great story for the convention business, the consensus now is that Scadding was wrong and the name is actually a corruption of the Iroquois word “Tkaronto,” which means “where there are trees standing in water,” and that it originally referred to a fishing weir at the northern end of what is now called Lake Simcoe, about...

  6. Chapter 3 Shaping the Old City
    (pp. 27-43)

    When Jane Jacobs’s bookThe Economy of Citieswas published in 1970 she had recently moved to Toronto and was living in a late Victorian neighborhood of streets lined with substantial brick and stone houses within easy walking distance of a busy commercial main street of small stores. In her book she argued that urban growth comes as cities replace imported goods by producing them locally, and when this happens streets and buildings like the ones where she then lived often have to be added in a rush to accommodate all the people who want to participate in the sudden...

  7. Chapter 4 The Ascendancy of Metropolitan Toronto
    (pp. 44-58)

    Canada’s entry into World War II in 1939 had an immediate and lasting impact on the shape of the city and on life in Toronto as young men went into service overseas and women took over jobs in manufacturing. Because Toronto was safe from bombing raids the region became a center for producing weapons and munitions that were shipped to Britain by convoys. After 1945 some of the wartime facilities disappeared completely, such as a shipbuilding yard for minesweepers on Toronto’s waterfront, and Camp X, a secret training center for spies and commandos near Oshawa that was a joint Canadian,...

  8. Chapter 5 A Post-suburban Skyscraper City
    (pp. 59-76)

    The American social philosopher William Irwin Thompson suggested in 1971 that “Toronto is a city at the edge of American history. With its draft dodgers, deserters and émigré academics it is almost Tolkien’s Rivendell.” Well, not quite as dreamy perhaps, but it was certainly on the edge of what has been called “the urban crisis” of the 1960s that elsewhere was manifest in student demonstrations, race riots, freedom marches, and anti–Vietnam War protests. It was nevertheless caught up in relatively gentle ways in the currents of widespread social change that were contemporary with the urban crisis and which included...

  9. Chapter 6 Diversity in the Outer Suburbs
    (pp. 77-104)

    The part of the urban region outside the City of Toronto is often referred to locally as “the 905,” the telephone area code that distinguishes it from the 416 area code of the City. Because the 905 has mostly been built up since the 1970s it is also common to regard everything there as “the outer suburbs,” a useful name that implies that while this recently developed area is an extension of the inner suburbs it is nevertheless different from them. TheToronto Starnewspaper tested this assumption in 2010 in a survey of 1,345 residents to assess differences in...

  10. Chapter 7 Polycentricity
    (pp. 105-122)

    Maps that show the ever-expanding built-up area of Toronto imply that the old core of the city is an energy source, a kernel from which it has grown inexorably outward. This might once have been the case, but it is an old truth. According to the geographer Peirce Lewis, the nuclear city that has grown from a single core is a “pre-automotive urban form,” a form that was held together by the powerful magnetism of a center where rail and other transportation lines converged, and it is a form that was irreversibly changed by the invention of cars. Monocentric cities,...

  11. Chapter 8 Globally Connected and Locally Divided
    (pp. 123-146)

    Globalization is most often discussed as an economic phenomenon. This is a limited perspective. In Toronto for sure, and presumably everywhere, it is both economic and social. It involves flows of money and goods, and it involves flows of people. The fundamental process behind Toronto’s expansion into a polycentric region has been population growth, which since 1981 has been somewhere between 84,000 and 134,000 people a year, depending on how the region is defined (Table 8.1). Almost all that growth has been the result of immigration from outside Canada. Of the 6.2 million people living in the Greater Toronto and...

  12. Chapter 9 Containing Growth
    (pp. 147-165)

    If growth is a measure of success, then in the last fifty years Toronto has been very successful. A relatively small city that was almost stereotypically white, Anglo-Saxon, and Protestant and contained within a single metropolitan municipality has been transformed into a multicultural, polychrome, and polycentric urban region a hundred miles across. This remarkable growth has almost all been accommodated in new suburban developments that have been carefully regulated by zoning and planning controls to ensure that there was no leapfrogging, the watercourses were protected, a mix of housing was provided, and there were appropriate hierarchies of schools, shops, and...

  13. Chapter 10 A City for Everybody
    (pp. 166-174)

    Toronto has always had difficulty finding its identity. There was the name change to York and back again; then in the late nineteenth century it was nicknamed alternatively Toronto the Good for its moral rectitude and Hog-town for its slaughterhouses. It left Ernest Hemingway, who was a reporter there in the 1920s, at a loss for words: “It couldn’t be any worse,” he wrote to Ezra Pound. “You can’t imagine it. I’m not going to describe it.” What the name represents was stretched first to the borders of Metropolitan Toronto, which has now fallen by the wayside, then to the...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 175-198)
  15. Index
    (pp. 199-206)