Category Archives: Toronto

What Lies Beneath

OpenCity Projects - Layers

A few weekends ago, I attended the 6th now-annual Jane’s Walk in Toronto. I did a lot of walking, exploring my city and listening to the stories my neighbours have to tell about our shared home. On the surface, the walks I attended that weekend could not have been more different. Continue reading

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Gone Fishin’

Toronto strikes a nice balance between urban development and greenspace. There is an unusual number of parks and trees but they can’t replace vast nature and wildlife that live just outside the city and are a unique part of Canadian culture. Because not everyone has access to this special outdoor experience, the Gone Fishin’ Project brings a bit of the wild into the city core. Continue reading

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Urban Scenes on the Silver Screen

Film shoot

My first visit to New York City was a disorienting experience. Manhattan is so thoroughly filmed and documented that you can’t help but feel you know the place through TV and movies alone. Turning the corner onto the former set of a film brings to mind the classic optical illusion My Wife and My Mother-in-Law, in which you can perceive a young lady or an old woman in the same illustration, but never both at once. Here’s the restaurant from Seinfeld. Here are the alien spaceships from Men In Black. Here’s that corner of Central Park from Home Alone. And here’s the foot of the Manhattan Bridge, which I can’t place but I’m positive I’ve seen somewhere before. And on top of all that, the actual geography of Manhattan — the way all these disparate scenes and settings fit together — was never quite what I expected. Continue reading

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Alley Artwork


In a city as vibrant as Toronto it seems like the most dynamic elements of public space are hidden away from view. Why is the dynamism—the people, the colour—concealed? What if we turned the city inside out, so the artwork in alleyways is the main show piece? What would our city look like if it was a canvas for colour rather than a concrete jungle? Continue reading

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Bringing Vibrant Public Space to the ‘Burbs

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By Jason Neudorf

In Part I of this series, I suggested that many of the vibrant downtowns in North America are great places to raise families – or they would be if families could afford them.  Unfortunately, the very limited supply of housing that can reasonably be described as urban means that a lot of Millennials will be destined for the leafy frontiers of suburbia.  That is, unless housing markets are able to respond in a powerful way to increase the supply of urban housing.  There are many signs that this response is beginning to gain momentum, and the cities that foster growth in the supply of urban housing will be well poised to attract the talent and investment necessary for success in the 21st century. Continue reading

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The City in 3D

Maps may be the closest thing to a universal language of urban space, allowing people with diverse experiences to share a common understanding of space, but it’s almost impossible to avoid flattening out an already unappreciated dimension of urban experience: height (and depth).

We humans aren’t great at talking about the third dimension. We’ve never been very good at getting off the ground and our vocabulary for elevation is poorly developed. A novelist can paint a picture with words and a musician can evoke a feeling with sound, but the third dimension is more like smell: we all know it very personally but have difficulty sharing that understanding with others or even describing it to ourselves. We all know how being above or below, ascending or descending affects our lives personally, but except in the most extreme cases, we have to keep it to ourselves. Continue reading

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What About the Children?

By Jason Neudorf

Do kids belong in the city? The question has long been a divisive one. In Toronto, a city that prides itself on having livable neighbourhoods and a vibrant downtown, the chorus of naysayers has recently gained support from some prominent and at times surprising voices. This past summer the Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday suggested that the downtown was not well suited for families, and that the issue was of no concern to the City.
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