Shape of the Suburbs: Understanding Toronto's Sprawl
Published: April 2009© 2009
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 208 Pages
Dimensions: 6.25 x 9.35
208 Pages, 6.25 x 9.35 x 0.95 in
It is now impossible to understand major North American cities without considering the seemingly never-ending and ever-growing sprawl of their surrounding suburbs. In The Shape of the Suburbs, activist, urban affairs columnist, and former Toronto mayor John Sewell examines the relationship between the development of suburbs, water and sewage systems, highways, and the decision-making of Toronto-area governments to show how the suburbs spread, and how they have in turn shaped the city.
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.
‘Thoroughly researched, Sewell creatively weaves an abundance of planning documents and historical maps into a compelling story making Shape of the Suburbs a rich and valuable contribution to the history of suburbanization.’ Sally Turner, Historical Geography, vol 39:2011
'John Sewell has always had a remarkable clarity of vision, and in The Shape of the Suburbs he casts his penetrating eye on urban sprawl, a blight of the twentieth century that continues to threaten the twenty-first. Sewell traces the development of the Toronto region with an uncanny ability to dismantle rhetoric with data, and to hold good intentions to account with historical fact. This book reveals how land use decisions affect the way we live, work, and grow, and is a must read for those who wonder why our politics seem so limited.' Alan Broadbent, author of Urban Nation; chairman and CEO, Avana Capital Corporation; chairman, the Maytree Foundation
'[The Shape of the Suburbs] is invaluable... Sewell's documentary account will form an important part of the historical record.' Joe Berridge, Literary Review of Canada
'Toronto has been the subject of numerous books that deal with the city's fascinating past. John Sewell's new book, The Shape of the Suburbs, focuses on the city's modern-day history and its growth. Once made up of separate communities grouped under the 'Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto' banner, its current more unified status makes it the focal point of a "super city" known as the Greater Toronto Area. A recent story it may be, but this too is history.' Mike Filey, author of Toronto, The Way We Were and the Toronto Sketches series