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Thornhill

King of Kensington

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Maybe it's too late to revive this old thread, but I found this article gives a good background history on Thornhill. If you drive through, it seems you hardly see pedestrians (except Orthodox Jews on Saturday mornings); it certainly feels less "urban" than Bathurst-Lawrence or Bathurst-Sheppard. The Markham side developed in the 60s and 70s, the Vaughan side in the 80s. This article on the development of Jewish Thornhill notes that:

- The Bathurst-Clark area of Thornhill has pretty high density for a suburban area.

- The area was designed specifically for Orthodox Jews by a developer who understood that the Jewish community would eventually move north of Steeles. Thus it was designed as a "walkable community."

- Vaughan was more of a rural holdout and did not open up for development until later than Markham. During the 1970s, the Jewish population had been shifting eastward towards Bayview and Markham ("Canada's fastest-growing town") was the fastest-growing Jewish area in Toronto during that decade. In the 1980s, it shifted to Vaughan as Bathurst north of Steeles opened up.

http://digital.library.ryerson.ca/islandora/object/RULA:2105/datastream/OBJ/view

The author also writes that: "While Thornhill does not fulfil the criteria of smart growth or new urbanist communities, these maps and figures display that it does contain several of the key aspects of these communities mentioned earlier in this paper."
 
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TJ O'Pootertoot

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Maybe it's too late to revive this old thread, but I found this article gives a good background history on Thornhill. If you drive through, it seems you hardly see pedestrians (except Orthodox Jews on Saturday mornings); it certainly feels less "urban" than Bathurst-Lawrence or Bathurst-Sheppard. The Markham side developed in the 60s and 70s, the Vaughan side in the 80s. This article on the development of Jewish Thornhill notes that:

- The Bathurst-Clark area of Thornhill has pretty high density for a suburban area.

- The area was designed specifically for Orthodox Jews by a developer who understood that the Jewish community would eventually move north of Steeles. Thus it was designed as a "walkable community."

- Vaughan was more of a rural holdout and did not open up for development until later than Markham. During the 1970s, the Jewish population had been shifting eastward towards Bayview and Markham ("Canada's fastest-growing town") was the fastest-growing Jewish area in Toronto during that decade. In the 1980s, it shifted to Vaughan as Bathurst north of Steeles opened up.

http://digital.library.ryerson.ca/islandora/object/RULA:2105/datastream/OBJ/view

The author also writes that: "While Thornhill does not fulfil the criteria of smart growth or new urbanist communities, these maps and figures display that it does contain several of the key aspects of these communities mentioned earlier in this paper."
Interesting. Yeah, Joseph Tanenbaum basically developed all the land around Clark, between Bathurst and Yonge, with the Sobey's plaza and BAYT synagogue as the centre. It's not New Urbanist by a long-shot but you can see something of that ethos buried in it (for those who don't know, Orthodox Jews need to be walking distance from a synagogue).

Really, if there were more jobs (or any!) in the corridor, it might be something of a model suburban community. I live in the area and when I put my address into walkscore.com, I get something in the 70s which is VERY respectable for a 1980s-era community. I can walk to a grocer, coffee shop, Yonge Street, community centre etc. and that's not true of a lot of areas in the suburbs, broadly speaking. It's sort of a transition between the more transit-oriented development Metro was doing south of Steeles and the horrible sprawl Markham and Vaughan built in the later 80s and 90s.

(It's also worth noting for those of us who care about heritage preservation that Markham did a far better job than Vaughan preserving the historic village core, around John/Centre Streets. There are some nice remnants on the Vaughan side but a lot more on the Markham side...)
 

King of Kensington

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Yes, the contrast between the Markham and Vaughan sides is quite noticeable. Thornhill-Markham really feels like a continuation of the Bayview/Leslie corridor of North York which isn't really surprising given that it was built up just slightly after. There isn't that kind of continuity going along Bathurst. The Bathurst Corridor of North York is more "urban" in feel than Bayview is, and development hit a bottleneck at Steeles for at least a decade. Although the Jewish character is evident all along Bathurst, the difference in urban form is quite evident.

Markham has certainly done better in preserving Old Thornhill than Vaughan. It may be only a slight exaggeration to say that in a lot of ways the Markham side feels more like Oakville than Vaughan! While Vaughan be more of a "cookie-cutter" community, it's also denser.
 
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Transportfan

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Anyway, my point was that Thornhill missed an opportunity to create an urban district near Bathurst/Centre, and instead created a strange hodge-podge of big box stores, strip malls, and a strange Disneyland like retail strip with wide but empty sidewalks on Disera Drive.
Places like Downsview and Agincourt missed the opportunity to create urban districts as well but nobody notices it there.
 

jaycola

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Yonge and Clark in Thornhill
Looking North on Yonge from south of Clark
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More around the intersection of Yonge and Clark.
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18372640230_e974fc2447_h.jpg
 

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yrt+viva=1system

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I overheard the other day while shopping at Walmart that there are plans submitted to the City of Vaughan for a renovation/redevelopment for the existing Walmart. The current store apparently is not sufficient for the demand. What I was more surprised about upon hearing the discussion, is that this Walmart is a tier 1 store in the chain despite being smaller in size compared to others.
 

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