Toronto: Transformations in a City and Its Region

Toronto: Transformations in a City and Its Region

Toronto: Transformations in a City and Its Region

Toronto: Transformations in a City and Its Region

Synopsis

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 Region traces 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.

Excerpt

Toronto was founded a decade after the end of the American War of Independence as a colonial outpost to promote settlement and to protect British interests in what was then known as Upper Canada. Over the next century and a half it developed into a modest industrial city, one of a group of manufacturing cities around the Great Lakes that included Buffalo, Cleveland, and Detroit. Since 1970 it has undergone a remarkable change. Unlike those other cities, Toronto did not go into a decline and its center was not hollowed out as manufacturing moved away. Instead it has boomed as a result of immigration from around the world and the growth of financial services, and it has become one of the largest and most prosperous metropolitan areas in North America. This book is an account of the various landscapes and urban patterns of Toronto, of how the city developed from its origins to the present day, and especially of the transformations over the last fifty years that have turned it from a primarily white, rustbelt city into an intensely multicultural, polycentric metropolitan region that extends across much of south-central Ontario and around the western end of Lake Ontario.

Toronto: Transformations in a City and Its Region has been a very long time in preparation. My idea of a book about the Toronto region originated in 1998 at what was, if I recall correctly, the second meeting organized by Judith Martin to discuss the Metropolitan Portraits series. That was held in Sam Bass Warner’s house in Cambridge, Massachusetts, during a dinner with Larry Ford and Carl Abbott, and we all made commitments to write books about our respective cities. Their books in the series were published by 2004, but I had become involved in academic middle management at my multicultural suburban campus of the University of Toronto Scarborough, and I didn’t escape my administrative shackles for more than a decade. Judith required each prospective author in the series to give her a tour . . .

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