To comment scroll to the bottom of the entry. Your e-mail address and URL are optional fields.

2005 03 31
Day 1
imageThe City on a Lake
Toronto today is a microcosm of Canada: a young, evolving cultural formation; heterogeneous, diverse, complex, open, and democratic. The city is bounded by Lake Ontario, and two rivers - the Humber River and the Don River. Toronto’s major nineteenth century institutions – including Old City Hall, the Connaught Building, the Grange– are all sited in green space “voids” and oriented to face south to the lake. A system of expressways ---Highway 427, the Gardiner Expressway, the Don Valley Expressway, and Highway 401-the Macdonald-Cartier Trans-Canada Highway---define another framework that orders the city.

Grid: A Veneer of Order, and the Ordinary
Toronto has been criticized for appearing boring. The innate geography of the city is a rising terrain which contains valleys, ravines and watersheds carved through the landscape. In 1788, Gunther Mann devised a gridiron plan to organize the city, leaving a legacy of conservative order, a veneer over the deeper, more complex, more wild and organic foundation of the city. Today’s supergrid of arterial streets - mostly north and south, east and west – is interwoven with zones of institutional, commercial, and residential uses. Many of these zones have evolved into ethnic neighbourhoods – such as Chinatown, Greektown, Little Italy - embedded with the richness of culture and individuality. To know the city, like the ravines and valleys, you have to go deeper, beneath the surface of its order, into the neighborhoods and the streets.

A Matrix for Creativity and Diversity
Toronto’s urban fabric – the supergrid - is directly connected to the city’s ability to evolve into a culturally and ethnically diverse centre. It acts as a matrix, or crucible, for individuality, creativity, innovation and invention. In Richard Florida’s book, The Rise of the Creative Class, a team led by Professor Meric Gertler at the University of Toronto analyzed Canadian cities adapting the methodologies used for U.S. cities. The results indicated that Toronto ranks very high on the three indices---the Talent index, accounting for the number of people with post-secondary education; the Bohemian index, accounting for the number of artists, designers, musicians, architects, etc. in the urban population; and the Mosaic index, accounting for the number of people who were born somewhere else. According to the DIAC Design Industry Study issued in 2004, Toronto has the largest design workforce in Canada, and the third largest design workforce in North America after New York and Boston.

photo credit: Robert Hill
[email this story] Posted by Bruce Kuwabara on 03/31 at 09:13 AM

Next entry: The Minimal City - Part 1

Previous entry: Camera Bar - Day 2

<< Back to main

Archive Search

Related Links
Toronto Stories by
Toronto Links
Your Opinions

Other Blogs
News Sources