Accidental City: The Transformation of Toronto

Front Cover
MacFarlane, Walter & Ross, 1995 - Architecture - 225 pages
With photos by Steven Evans.
Northrop Frye once called Toronto "a good place to mind your own business," and until the 1960s that was about the best that could be said for it. Toronto had no street life, no sidewalk cafes, no festivals, no downtown gathering place. It was a city of sober reticence.
"Accident," writes Robert Fulford "plays a role in the building of any city. It has played a major role in the transformation of Toronto." That transformation began with the opening in 1965 of the New City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square. Since then, Toronto has changed from a private city, seemingly without a collective identity, to a public one - a transformation that came about through the series of (mostly) happy accidents chronicled in this vastly entertaining urban tour.
Fulford, who grew up beside Lake Ontario and has lived in Toronto all his life, writes brilliantly about the city's architecture, its commercial development, its ravines, its monuments, its man-made underground, and its people - from Jane Jacobs, whose iconoclastic ideas on urban planning have had a profoundly positive effect on Toronto (where she ended up living mostly by accident), to Fred Gardiner, whose controversial expressway remains an eyesore decades after it was built.
Even the most knowledgeable Torontonian will be informed and entertained by Fulford's graceful erudition. Visitors will find the book an invaluable introduction to a city viewed by foreigners as a model of livable urbanity - and by many Canadians as the very symbol of smug self-satisfaction. Whatever your view of Toronto, it will be challenged and deepened by this original, insightful, and thoroughly engaging book.

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