Parkdalian

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Attention to details and quality do matter. When you come from a city where they invest in the public realm and then go to one that doesn't, it can't help but bother you. For me, it's always the first thing I notice and it does reflect on how people perceive our city. Quality paving is not an extravagance like some make it out to be.

On the other hand, I can understand how someone brought up with concrete sidewalks doesn't see anything wrong with them.

I believe you just proved my point about "Rosedalian Urbanism": arguing that "quality" (which is a proxy for expense) is a sign of urbanity, rather than, you know, whether the city in that neighbourhood, I dunno, functions. And functions on not just the upper middle class level. I can't imagine that anyone would argue for granite pavers in, say, St James Town - places like that are often just elided from the urbanist imagination as "bad examples of urbanism." Many would argue that they are so hopelessly "ugly" that they are irredeemable without a Regent Park-like bulldozing. It's terribly difficult for sophisticates to see the aesthetic interest in these places because they lack "quality" and an "attention to detail." But I'm arguing that the attention to detail is exactly the thing that obscures - that makes us not see the city, and instead see our own fears of being judged by all those intelligent Europeans with all of their pretty cities that have so widened your views beyond the concrete parochialism of this city and its native born inhabitants.
 

maestro

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I love the look of a brick facade but, most see it as a sub surface. I care more about the shape of sidewalks than the material. A well maintained concrete sidewalk looks as good as one of pavers. I like the minimalism of concrete and cost comparisons just don't interest me. Likewise, a patched crumbling concrete sidewalk isn't any worse than a crumbling, crooked one of pavers.
 

Torontovibe

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^^ Clearly shows what a big difference nice paving stones make. I love the red and brown paving stones.
 

Tewder

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I believe you just proved my point about "Rosedalian Urbanism": arguing that "quality" (which is a proxy for expense) is a sign of urbanity, rather than, you know, whether the city in that neighbourhood, I dunno, functions. And functions on not just the upper middle class level. I can't imagine that anyone would argue for granite pavers in, say, St James Town - places like that are often just elided from the urbanist imagination as "bad examples of urbanism." Many would argue that they are so hopelessly "ugly" that they are irredeemable without a Regent Park-like bulldozing. It's terribly difficult for sophisticates to see the aesthetic interest in these places because they lack "quality" and an "attention to detail." But I'm arguing that the attention to detail is exactly the thing that obscures - that makes us not see the city, and instead see our own fears of being judged by all those intelligent Europeans with all of their pretty cities that have so widened your views beyond the concrete parochialism of this city and its native born inhabitants.

… or maybe we just need to take a little more pride? Toronto looks like a frontier town. We don't have to aspire to be Paris, but a lot of North American cities with less resources look better than us, never mind European ones.
 

junctionist

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I love the look of a brick facade but, most see it as a sub surface. I care more about the shape of sidewalks than the material. A well maintained concrete sidewalk looks as good as one of pavers. I like the minimalism of concrete and cost comparisons just don't interest me. Likewise, a patched crumbling concrete sidewalk isn't any worse than a crumbling, crooked one of pavers.

I disagree. Poured concrete looks really cheap--far worse than pavers without texture, colour or lustre. It becomes grey and stained after the first year. North American urban design often looks worse than European urban design because of the overuse of poured concrete.
 

MafaldaBoy

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MisterF

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Attention to details and quality do matter. When you come from a city where they invest in the public realm and then go to one that doesn't, it can't help but bother you. For me, it's always the first thing I notice and it does reflect on how people perceive our city. Quality paving is not an extravagance like some make it out to be.

Agreed. Things like better sidewalk materials and buried utilities aren't "fancy schmancy" things meant for rich neighbourhoods as Parkdalian suggests. They're basic infrastructure standards that most of the developed world has. Yet somehow Torontonians have linked better infrastructure with sterility and the poor being driven out, and actually fight improvements because of it. It's bizarre and their fears couldn't be further from the truth.

I remember seeing a photo thread on SSP a couple years ago of a working class neighbourhood in London (I forget which one - haven't been to that part of the city personally). People were commenting on how gritty it was and how it almost looked third world. What I noticed was that even there, the streetscaping standards were much better than most of Toronto. It kind of looked like what Kensington Market would look like if the wires were buried and the street were made of something better than poured concrete and asphalt. We can have interesting, working class, hipster friendly neighbourhoods with nice streetscaping. The two don't oppose each other.
 
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Tewder

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Yet somehow Torontonians have linked better infrastructure with sterility and the poor being driven out, and actually fight improvements because of it. It's bizarre and their fears couldn't be further from the truth.


In Toronto the right views 'city beautiful' spending as gravy and the left views it as pandering to the wealthy/squandering funds that should go to social programs… come to think of it, it's rather an odd alignment of ideologies, and one of the few issues on which there is little polarization.

The thing is though, these view points exist in other places but they are fringe and do not dominate agenda as they do in Hogtown.
 

One Nut Kruk

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You're absolutely right about that. Why is this such a big problem in Toronto though? There was a time, not too long ago, where we actually cared about the way the city looked. What happened and when?
 

SP!RE

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The George Brown residence would do well to have some sun-shading (vertical brises-soleil) on the west elevation. Otherwise, looks great!
 

MisterF

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In Toronto the right views 'city beautiful' spending as gravy and the left views it as pandering to the wealthy/squandering funds that should go to social programs… come to think of it, it's rather an odd alignment of ideologies, and one of the few issues on which there is little polarization.

The thing is though, these view points exist in other places but they are fringe and do not dominate agenda as they do in Hogtown.
Ah yes the downtown hipster teaming up with the gravy train suburbanite. They sound like a couple of 60s Batman villains. Can the caped crusader stop this unholy alliance???
 

Batman

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Thank you for alerting me to this infernal threat to our fair city, citizen. Robin and I will continue to remind hipster and suburbanite alike that a seemly public realm will go a long way to keeping the supervillainy of urban decay at bay.
 

Tewder

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Ah yes the downtown hipster teaming up with the gravy train suburbanite.

Strange bedfellows indeed, though inadvertent ones i'm sure.

Why is this such a big problem in Toronto though? There was a time, not too long ago, where we actually cared about the way the city looked. What happened and when?

It's an interesting question. I can't help but think it's in our DNA: it's where Toronto the good intersects with Toronto the practical. When you think about it, the care you refer to in the past was very much centred on cleanliness and order, more so than on any real sense of urban beautification. Reality is, Toronto's public spaces, furnishings, parks etc have always been pretty frumpy and utilitarian.
 

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