After 1945 however, the suburbs became stereotyped as generic, physically standardized, and socially conformist places. By 1960, they had grown further away physically and culturally from their respective parent cities, and brought unanticipated social and environmental consequences. Government intervention also played a key role, encouraging mortgage indebtedness, amortization, and building and subdivision regulations to become the suburban norm. Suburban homes became less affordable and more standardized, and for the first time, Canadian commentators began to speak disdainfully of 'the suburbs,' or simply 'suburbia.' Creeping Conformity traces how these perceptions emerged to reflect a new suburban reality.
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Richard Harris is a professor in the School of Geography and Earth Sciences at McMaster University.
Whitzman demonstrates that this misunderstanding of social conditions had discriminatory effects. For example, even while Parkdale’s reputation as a gentrified area grew in the post-sixties era, the overall health and income of the neighbourhood’s residents was in fact decreasing, and the area attracted media coverage as a “dumping ground” for psychiatric outpatients. Parkdale’s changing image thus stood in stark contrast to its real social conditions. Nevertheless, this image became a self-fulfilling prophecy, as it contributed to increasingly skewed planning practices for Parkdale in the late twentieth century.
This rich and detailed history of a neighbourhood’s actual conditions, imaginary connotations, and planning policies will appeal to scholars and students in urban studies, planning, and geography, as well as to general readers interested in Toronto and Parkdale’s urban history.
Based on meticulous research of Toronto's postwar plans and supplemented by dozens of interviews, Planning Toronto provides a comprehensive and lively explanation of how Toronto's postwar plans -- city, metropolitan, and regional -- came to be, who devised them, and what impact they had. When it comes to the history of urban planning, the question may not be whether a particular plan was good or bad but whether in the end it made a difference. As White demonstrates, in Toronto's case planning did matter -- just not always as expected.
Using his wealth of knowledge of the city of Toronto and new information gathered from municipal archives, Sewell describes the major movements and forces that allowed for rapid development of the suburbs, while considering the options that were available to planners at the time. Discussing proposals to curb suburban sprawl from the 1960s to the recently adopted plan for the Greater Toronto area, Sewell combines insightful and accessible commentary with rigorous research on the debate between urban and suburban. Concerned not only with sprawl, The Shape of the Suburbs also demonstrates the ways in which suburban political, economic, and cultural influences have impacted the older, central city, culminating in the forced Megacity amalgamation of 1998.
Rich in detail and full of useful visual illustrations, The Shape of the Suburbs is a lively look at the construction of the suburban era.