Discussion in 'Toronto Issues' started by M II A II R II K, Mar 22, 2012.
That video was awesome. I loved the historic footage of Toronto and Montreal and Jane Jacobs' tour and commentary. It was interesting to see Montreal's old town largely vacant. There were buildings visible with broken windows at around 7:57. Those scenes seemed very American. It wasn't a direct comparison between Toronto and Montreal, though (at least not in this clip); Jane seemed to use the two leading centres of her adopted country to illustrate her ideas, cognizant of certain thematic similarities with American cities of the time. It's amazing to see how deeply the idea of "slum clearance" was entrenched in planning culture. The so-called "slums" that supposedly needed to be cleared were some of the most interesting and historic neighbourhoods that cities in North America had. They needed to be better analyzed and understood for how they functioned, with revitalization promoted along traditional lines since there was merit in the way many older communities functioned. Yet she wasn't entirely anti-Modernist because she would take new ideas seriously, but always thinking in terms of their impact on older, well-functioning neighbourhoods.
Her point about Toronto's "establishment" just doing what was "proper" and contemporary seems spot on--from the end of World War II up to the early 1970s, there just didn't seem to be much interest in the city to experiment with planning ideas in cases where what was contemporary was an awkward fit. Toronto was willing to raze large blocks of the old city and ram through expressways even if it was a crude fit with the old city. Perhaps the era of 1945-1969 was a coming of age period in terms of Toronto becoming a metropolitan city that finally could be contemporary on a large-scale. A city that failed to build a grand Victorian square or implement its City Beautiful dreams like Federal Avenue or Vimy Circle could now finally do what the leading architects and planners advocated for, though unfortunately this coming of age happened when what was current was to disregard the traditional city and raze it for what would often later prove to be dysfunctional and unsatisfactory solutions. By the 1970s, there was a greater interest in approaching modern urban development with finer grain solutions more open to creative variations and experiments thanks to influential critics like Jane Jacobs herself, before too much damage could be done to the old city.
Nice find. Thanks for posting it.
In addition someone made this tribute:
Great video. Too bad she's not still around - might have some interesting insight into the present mess we're in. As an aside, I wonder if Doug Ford has heard of her?
English signs on stores in Montreal! That was freaky.
Back when Montreal had some promise for the future... If only they knew what was to come.
Oh please. Let's not overdramatize. Montreal is a great place and always has been.
What constitutes a promising future?
Montreal's slower economy is it's saving grace.