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View Poll Results: Fundamentally, Toronto is more like ...
Chicago 43 61.43%
Vancouver 27 38.57%
Voters: 70. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 03-28-2015, 09:59 AM
 
Location: Toronto
12,892 posts, read 12,753,412 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnathanc View Post
Chicago does have its share of Queen St. West type hipsters and all that BS in various neighborhoods outside the core like Wicker park and Logan Square. Most cities have been invaded by hipsters at this point though. Not sure if I've seen a market as big as St. Lawrence in Chicago but on the flip side, I doubt there's a shortage of places to buy great food there too. Either way, who cares, what does it matter. Cities shouldn't be modelled to all look the same and have the exact same amenities, otherwise they would all be one big snore. I don't want to go to Toronto or Montreal or Chicago or San Diego to see and experience the same things. Different is good, I don't see why we want everything to have an equivalent in the first place. I'm finding most major cities in not just North America but on a worldwide scale are becoming very similar in what they offer and are becoming less interesting to me, of course scale and local twists are always there.

I too like cities that have ornate & well designed cores with historical gems but having some surrounding areas that are a little more "messy" too is good to mix things up. I also prefer cities which have more low/mid-rise development because they seem more intimate, vibrant and liveable than places dominated than towers. They feel like neighborhoods, as you've seen in Europe, and these are the type of developments I like Toronto to focus on. I find cities like Singapore and Sao Paulo that are extremely dominated by buildings to lack energy and kind of boring. NYC's best areas are all low-mid/rise, not in midtown and Fidi.
I wasn't really speaking to hipsters specifically as opposed to nabe's/arterials and districts and the unique elements within them.. The St Lawrence Market and Distillery District, Kensington etc - why shouldn't we play those up? There are unique elements to them and they are interesting. Naturally Chicago has attributes we don't have and to your point, this is a good thing.. Unique elements are important. Every city is going to have districts/arterials/nabe's but its the ingredient in them that are important.

Regarding T.O, I do think the way the DT core and surrounding nabe's (which are also the most interesting parts of T.O) kind of organically mesh with one another is a big plus vs Chicago. It just seems like more people actually live and are based in and around the core in strong numbers. It doesn't really matter as much if that wows a tourist - its better if people within the city appreciate that dynamic as it is their home. With that said, there is definately room for Toronto to make better use of spaces in a civic/ornate/stately way if you will to make more of a statement. There is some promise in that regard in terms of what is happening to the waterfront and Queen's Quay for example. The Exhibition grounds could definately be improved in order to become more of a magnet and its happening its just slow to proceed. We also have some of the most extensive ravine systems in the world and sprucing those up and making those more of a focal point in the city would do us well I think. They are a unique geography.

Last edited by fusion2; 03-28-2015 at 10:47 AM..
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Old 03-28-2015, 10:15 AM
 
Location: Toronto
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Originally Posted by Magnatomicflux View Post
I would like to see Toronto start building stuff that doesn't have green effing glass in it. What is it? The Emerald City?

Seriously. Enough of that already. Big green boxes with no character. lol
I think the condo's you speak of are more concentrated along the lakeshore.. The further into the core you go you do get more diversity in terms of colours and textures ie. Aura, 1 St Thomas, X Condo's, Casa and soon to come Gehry's theatre towers and Massey etc. but yeah - can't be denied that the highrise growth of T.O in the 2000's has been largely the condo and in that world, glass condo box is king..
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Old 03-28-2015, 10:36 AM
 
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Originally Posted by botticelli View Post
I agree with all your points.

What we are talking about how Toronto feels like, essentially how it is perceived by people who only spend a few days here. They normally don't go to see North York centre or even Yonge/Eglinton (there is really nothing particular there to see either), so their impression of Toronto is limited by downtown and its surrounding areas.

And in this respect, our city core does feel a lot smaller, less grand and polished than Chicago's. And out subway smaller. Let's not deny that. There is absolutely nothing in Chicago that is as majestic and big-city looking like Michigan ave in Chicago, is there? Bloor/Yorkville is a baby in comparison. How do the dense high rise suburbs matter? Nobody go there unless you live there.

Toronto may have caught up with Chicago's population, but in terms of buildings, public space and a big city feel, it has a long way to go. Honestly it doesn't feel significantly larger than Montreal yet.

take a look at this two photos. This is the impression people usually have about Chicago. Toronto is nowhere near there.
So spread out tall buildings is what determines Chicago "feeling" bigger?

How about Toronto's larger downtown population? Or is that not a factor? There are a various of cities in the world that don't have the grand skyline, but feel bigger than Chicago.
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Old 03-28-2015, 11:11 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fusion2 View Post
I'm just hoping that with all this development in T.O that this is largely maintained..
I think this was due to Chicago's historic development as an industrial city/transportation gateway.
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Old 03-28-2015, 11:13 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by botticelli View Post
that was exactly my point. Fusion2 was asking where is Chicago's Queen west, st Lawrence,and I was pointing out Chicago does have such nabes with similar vibes.

Manicured vs mishmash, that's a personal preference. I have been living in chaotic mishmash cities for a long time so personally I prefer cities more neat and better planned, such as Paris or Barcelona to say Berlin or Toronto. Just so you know, all those developing countries have all the messy urbanism, many with a much higher vibrancy than Toronto, so in my eyes it's nothing so unique.
We all have personal preferences, but wouldn't it be better if we can have messy urbanism combined with stately boulevards in the same city? That's why cities like New York and Berlin do so well, because they offer a variety of urban styles within close proximity, for people with varying tastes. The pictures I posted on Berlin shows just one of the many neighborhoods in a metro that only has 3.5 million people.

Within 3 S-Bahn stops from the messy urbanism full of cold-war architecture, you have this - about as stately and well-manicured as you can get:





The reason I use the Berlin example is because Toronto already has some existing assets that can be spruced up and expanded to open up whole new civic spaces and attractions with unique cultural value, not unlike what Berlin has done (95% of Berlins "stately" and "historic" attractions were built post-1945, in the 60s, 70s, 80s, with the famous Reichstag building not finished renovations until 1999, and the city does an incredible job of renovating previously antiquated sites).

Some sites in Toronto that could undergo similar renovations and expansions, especially places like Prince's Gate and University Avenue (I mean c'mon, University is probably the most well-laid out boulevard in the city yet it is surrounded by sterile offices and a row of emergency rooms... and as a result all pedestrians and traffic are forced to squeeze onto the narrow Yonge St.)







Osgoode Hall and its surrounding park are beautiful, but why on earth is it fenced up like some private villa. Most visitors (and even long-time residents) have no idea what it's like inside. To me this is all just neglectful urban planning:

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Old 03-28-2015, 11:15 AM
 
Location: Toronto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by King of Kensington View Post
I think this was due to Chicago's historic development as an industrial city/transportation gateway.
Yeah and we can't dismiss that.. The good thing is we are carving things out now and its a work in progress.. I think the Toronto of today and 10, 20, 30 years from now will be different and the critiques it is getting will naturally just be filled by the emergence of the city. I just hope the transformation is done in ways that our biggest strengths are kept in tact.
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Old 03-28-2015, 11:18 AM
 
Location: Toronto
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Bostonkid you make some good points about our city.. I agree with you.. We are closing things off, fencing things in and not taking advantage of our jewels/assets and putting them on full display and making them accessible like so many other cities do.. I've posted pics of many of these places in the T.O pics thread to show that Toronto does indeed have these things.. Anyway I share your frustrations and I myself can't readily explain them and i've been living here all my life lol... Its just odd.. Its like we never put on that showtime diamond necklace or ring and just put them in the drawer to collect dust.. There is some progress as i've posted in links to you about redevelopment of certain areas but much much more can be done and it wouldn't even take that much in many instances making it all the more annoying.
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Old 03-28-2015, 02:23 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bostonkid123 View Post

Some sites in Toronto that could undergo similar renovations and expansions, especially places like Prince's Gate and University Avenue (I mean c'mon, University is probably the most well-laid out boulevard in the city yet it is surrounded by sterile offices and a row of emergency rooms... and as a result all pedestrians and traffic are forced to squeeze onto the narrow Yonge St.)

Osgoode Hall and its surrounding park are beautiful, but why on earth is it fenced up like some private villa. Most visitors (and even long-time residents) have no idea what it's like inside. To me this is all just neglectful urban planning:
excellent points on these.

I lamented University Ave for being extremely boring many times. As Toronto's most stately street, it is dominated by uninspiring hospitals and insurance companies, with close to zero retail. Really? The bright side is that they are adding a few condos to the street, hopefully it will bring some life to it. In my ideal world, University Ave should be lined with patio restaurants in the summer as well as plenty of retail shops.

This is La Ramble in Barcelona, isn't 100 times better than our cold and boring University Ave? Even busy downtown Yonge st has four car lanes, which is soooooo backwards. For some reason, Toronto has this incredible car culture that makes it imperative for every single street to be car accessible, that includes the busiest sections with most retail and pedestrian traffic such as downtown Queen and King as well as Yonge.



This is İstiklal Avenue, istanbul



Florida st, Buenos Aires



Nanjing Road, Shanghai




These are the places I have been too, and every time I marvel at what other cities are doing. This compared with our King/Queen west, you get the idea


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Old 03-28-2015, 03:56 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrjun18 View Post
So spread out tall buildings is what determines Chicago "feeling" bigger?

How about Toronto's larger downtown population? Or is that not a factor? There are a various of cities in the world that don't have the grand skyline, but feel bigger than Chicago.
I understand what Boticelli means, Chicago seems to "feel" to bigger. Chicago is a bigger metro but I'm sure the downtown population is higher in Toronto. But at end of the day, I think the feeling comes from the more grander set up and structures in Chi - the bigger buildings, the river and bridges, the subway system, the bigger pedestrian streets, wider highways, large parks, museum and shopping and bar districts, etc. It just feels like things are larger when you walk around.

Now downtown Toronto may be slightly larger population wise (it's fact), but it seems to have evolved in a manner which doesn't feel as large on the ground. TO's dense skyline, however, does help it feel large for those looking in from the outside and things are continuing to change over time on the ground. But it almost seems as if some cities had more foresight or just better planning to be large from day one. Toronto seems to have grown into a large city later in it's life, but the infrastructure hasn't kept up which makes it feel smaller than it actually is. I think set up and structure makes a big difference. Last summer I was in Vienna, and it was designed in a way that made it "feel" much larger than what it is actually is. I used to spend summers in Atlanta growing up and I thought the city was smaller than it was because the downtown core is much smaller. But when you add up all different clusters that are spread out like LA, then it really adds up to a decent sized metro. I think if Toronto had more central squares/pedestrian streets, and better transportation connections, then it would feel as large as it really is.
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Old 03-28-2015, 04:40 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnathanc View Post
the subway system, , wider highways, large parks, etc. It just feels like things are larger when you walk around.
.
I found the subways in Chicago smaller.. The network more extensive but on the actual lines the subway cars and stations just felt smaller to me.. Wider highways?? Toronto has the 1st and 3rd busiest highways in North America (401 and 427) and the 401 is only trumped in terms of width by a highway in Houston though the one in Houston isn't as busy.. Larger parks in Chicago? Don't know maybe in the DT core but around the city I find that rather difficult to believe - I'd say Toronto gives any city a run for its money in terms of parks/Green canopy.. Bigger bar districts? Maybe not really sure about that one.. Old Toronto and particularly areas west of the core along King, Queen, Bloor, College etc are quite alive at night.. I don't recall anything in Chicago like that close to its DT core anyway.. Even the Gay district of Chicago is quite a distance outside the core whereas T.O's is firmly planted within.

You're right though, Toronto's DT core actually has more people and that is only going to increase relative to Chicago as Toronto's core and surrounding areas are densifying at a much greater clip. I was driving westbound on the Gardner today coming home from being DT and the area west of Cityplace at Liberty Villiage and approaching Etobicoke is developing like crazy.. Etobicoke actually has an emerging skyline of its own and in the distance you see Mississauga not too far so i'm buying this Chicago is 'feeling' bigger than Toronto stuff less and less and its actually going other way around to me. The 2016 census will put a lot of this to rest objectively and more and more people will have to come to terms with their - feelings.

Last edited by fusion2; 03-28-2015 at 05:14 PM..
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