The Walkable City… Featuring Greenland Road

I ordered this book from the library, called “The Walkable City: From Haussmann’s Boulevards to Jane Jacobs’ Streets and Beyond”  by Mary Soderstrom. In a nutshell, this book discusses the fact that at one time, it would be absurd to build a city that was not walkable, yet now we accept non-functionality for pedestrians as perfectly normal. What’s nifty about this book, and why I am telling you about it here is that one of the chapters features a walk along your favourite road and mine, Greenland Road. Not by accident of course… but because Don Mills was designed specifically to be walkable (something that subsequent copycat suburb-builders conveniently forgot to do).

Here’s the blurb from the publisher:

“Taking us on walks through Paris, New York, Toronto, North Vancouver and Singapore, Mary Soderstrom examines how cites have changed the lives of ordinary citizens—in positive and negative ways. Making the city walkable again is crucial. The author looks to the future and suggests ways in which we can reorganize our lives and our cities.

The idea that a city might not be walkable would never occur to anyone who lived before 1800. Over the past 200 years there have been dramatic changes to our cities. With the best intentions, Baron George Eugène Haussmann ruthlessly transformed Paris in the mid-19th century in an attempt to adapt the city to a new age. In North America cities were “redeveloped” to accommodate the automobile and automobile-dependent suburbs. The city was no longer walkable, and in the 1960s activist-writer Jane Jacobs began to critique many of the ideas about how cities should be organized.”

I think about walkability just about any time I trot over to the Metro for something. How many other suburbs can boast of shopping within walking distance from every house? Paths that ensure we can travel the shortest distance to those very stores? Places for both cars, and people? And all of this meticulously planned. Thanks, Don Mills! You rock!

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One Response to The Walkable City… Featuring Greenland Road

  1. Chris H says:

    Interesting. I’ve always liked Jane Jacobs. I might have to read this.

    Cities were more walkable before WWII because stores were small and many. You didn’t buy a weeks worth of groceries and take them home, you bought for today, and maybe tomorrow. All the mom and pop stores are gone, and of course the big stores are all 7 miles away.

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