The Shape of the City: Toronto Struggles with Modern Planning

By John Sewell and Jane Jacobs

© 1993

Critics have long voiced concerns about the wisdom of living in cities and the effects of city life on physical and mental health. For a century, planners have tried to meet these issues. John Sewell traces changes in urban planning, from the pre-Depression garden cities to postwar modernism and a revival of interest in the streetscape grid.

In this far-ranging review, Sewell recounts the arrival of modern city planning with its emphasis on lower densities, limited access streets, segregated uses, and considerable green space. He makes Toronto a case history, with its pioneering suburban development in Don Mills and its other planned communities, including Regent Park, St Jamestown, Thorncrest Village, and Bramalea.

The heyday of the modern planning movement was in the 1940s to the 1960s, and the Don Mills concept was repeated in spirit and in style across Canada. Eventually, strong public reaction brought modern planning almost to a halt within the city of Toronto. The battles centred on saving the Old City Hall and stopping the Spadina Expressway. Sewell concludes that although the modernist approach remains ascendant in the suburbs, the City of Toronto has begun to replace it with alternatives that work.

This is a reflective but vigorous statement by a committed urban reformer. Few Canadians are better suited to point the way towards city planning for the future.

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Product Details

  • Series: Heritage
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 252 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.7in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP001685

  • PUBLISHED SEP 1993

    From: $26.96

    Regular Price: $35.95

    ISBN 9780802074096
  • PUBLISHED DEC 1993

    From: $25.46

    Regular Price: $33.95

Quick Overview

This is a reflective but vigorous statement by a committed urban reformer. Few Canadians are better suited to point the way towards city planning for the future.

The Shape of the City: Toronto Struggles with Modern Planning

By John Sewell and Jane Jacobs

© 1993

Critics have long voiced concerns about the wisdom of living in cities and the effects of city life on physical and mental health. For a century, planners have tried to meet these issues. John Sewell traces changes in urban planning, from the pre-Depression garden cities to postwar modernism and a revival of interest in the streetscape grid.

In this far-ranging review, Sewell recounts the arrival of modern city planning with its emphasis on lower densities, limited access streets, segregated uses, and considerable green space. He makes Toronto a case history, with its pioneering suburban development in Don Mills and its other planned communities, including Regent Park, St Jamestown, Thorncrest Village, and Bramalea.

The heyday of the modern planning movement was in the 1940s to the 1960s, and the Don Mills concept was repeated in spirit and in style across Canada. Eventually, strong public reaction brought modern planning almost to a halt within the city of Toronto. The battles centred on saving the Old City Hall and stopping the Spadina Expressway. Sewell concludes that although the modernist approach remains ascendant in the suburbs, the City of Toronto has begun to replace it with alternatives that work.

This is a reflective but vigorous statement by a committed urban reformer. Few Canadians are better suited to point the way towards city planning for the future.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Heritage
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 252 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.7in x 9.0in
  • Author Information

    John Sewell is a former city councillor and mayor of Toronto, has been a columnist for The Globe and Mail, NOW Magazine, and Eye Weekly, and was the founder of Citizens for Local Democracy.



    Jane Jacobs was an American-Canadian activist, author, and journalist.

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