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Toronto describes the diverse and remarkable transformations that have occurred in the urban landscapes of Toronto, especially over the last fifty years as it has grown from a provincial industrial city into multicentered, multicultural, world-city region that is one of the largest metropolitan areas in North America.

Transformations in a City and Its Region

Edward Relph

2013 | 216 pages | Cloth $47.50
Social Science / General / Geography
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Urban Transformations
Chapter 2. Confused Identities
Chapter 3. Shaping the Old City
Chapter 4. The Ascendancy of Metropolitan Toronto
Chapter 5. A Post-suburban Skyscraper City
Chapter 6. Diversity in the Outer Suburbs
Chapter 7. Polycentricity
Chapter 8. Globally Connected and Locally Divided
Chapter 9. Containing Growth
Chapter 10. A City for Everybody


Excerpt [uncorrected, not for citation]


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 of his or her city, and in 2008 I finally found the opportunity to show her around Toronto. She encouraged me to get back to writing, but my administrative responsibilities were extended for a further two years; only when those were done was I finally able, after twelve years, to get down to serious work.

I like to think the delays were, in part, for the better, because they allowed me the chance to teach courses about Toronto and to benefit from the insights and feedback of students. Furthermore, in the last decade there have been important changes for Toronto, especially the implementation of three interlocking regional plans for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Sadly, however, the delays also meant that I was not able to benefit from Judith's renowned advice and editorial skills because she died unexpectedly and much too young in 2011 as I was completing the first draft. This book would not have been thought of, emerged from its dormancy, or brought to completion without her inspiration and encouragement. I cannot acknowledge her contribution too much.

All the photos and sketches in the book are mine. I have also drawn the maps, in some cases adapting the material from various sources that are listed in the captions. Many of the ideas and themes I express about Toronto and its region have emerged through discussions and/or urban explorations with colleagues, friends, and students, in some cases over the course of two decades and in others over just a few days, though I have bent them to my own purposes. I am especially indebted to André Sorensen, Susannah Bunce, Ahmed Allahwalla, Minelle Mahtani, Zack Taylor, and especially Michael Bunce (all from Geography and City Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough), and also to Bev Sandalack, Brian Banks, Alan Walks, Wayne Reeves, Richard Harris, Bob Mugerauer, Paul Hess, Girish Daswani, Gunter Gad, Larry Bourne, Phil Triadafilopoulos, Lena Mortensen, and Ranu Basu. I have also benefited from the excellent work of graduate and undergraduate students, notably Angela Loder's research on greening cities, Jenny Hall's on heritage and new urbanism, Andrew Blum's about place and electronic media, and Luisa Veronis's on transnationalism. I appreciate invaluable contributions from Noreen Khimani, Mandeep Gulati, Golda Oneka, Edward Birnbaum, Katie Mazer, Nitika Jagtiani, Mark McConville, Christine Lau, Helen Lee, Jason Chang, Aslam Shaikh, Nicole Ristic, and Nadien Awad. At the University of Pennsylvania Press, I am very grateful to Bob Lockhart, who offered sage advice about my very belated manuscript and then shepherded it through the editorial process, and to Rachel Taube, Erica Ginsburg, and Christine Dahlin for their splendid work turning my manuscript into a book. Irene, Lexy, and Gwyn have invariably been sources of inspiration and support. And the youthful enthusiasms of Alex and Isabelle remind me that more transformations are inevitably to come.

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