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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, 04:46 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by botticelli View Post
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.


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

The car culture in Canamerican cities does a lot to damage ped vibrancy.. I don't know if you took part in TIFF last year but during that festival they actually made King Street Ped only and extended Bars/Restaurants into the streets and it was packed.. Any time they close down streets to cars be it for a festival or event people just flock to these areas and the energy is similar to your Las Ramblas and Istiklal streets (both i've experienced though I prefered the authenticity to Istiklal over Las Ramblas which seemed more well - catered to tourists).. Anyway, I'm not sure why we are comparing Canamerican cities to those in Asia and Europe - we all know the ped vibrancy is on another level compared to most any Canamerican cities - even the large one's like Toronto and Chicago.. NYC is the only city that really can compete but even there car culture is still too dominant.. It would be nice to create more ped only zones for sure.. More and more I don't even know why people drive DT in Toronto really... Its painful. Anyway, keep spreading the word about Ped only streets and lets reclaim parts of the city for the people who live in it. You will see REAL vibrancy if we did that because Torontonians actually do like to go out and enjoy the festivities

Last edited by fusion2; 03-28-2015 at 05:11 PM..
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Old 03-28-2015, 05:35 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Hi! I'm Toronto... Do I feel "Big" to you...lol..



https://www.flickr.com/people/124116302@N06/ by @416Shots, on Flickr
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Old 03-29-2015, 09:28 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fusion2 View Post
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.
I'm not trying to sell or promote anything, numbers and numbers and Toronto likely has more people in its city proper at this point. I live right in the middle of the city proper, I see how things are changing and improving with growth everyday. But my point is not about numbers, its more about city structures and set up and how they can impact the feeling of size and grandness of a city for visitors, and I think Chicago's design does big city better. My friends from Toronto felt like Chicago was bigger after looking at the subway and highway maps and walking the main arteries when visiting. Many people do but maybe not everyone, it's all good. I fully agree that Toronto's large skyline adds to a big city feeling for sure, but the limited subway system and lack of large pedestrian and stately streets on the ground don't justify the current size of the city. I also don't think the set up of spreading out parks, bars and other amenities help create a big feeling because they become less accessible to people so things that exist may not register on the radar. I'm thinking about it from the perspective of Joe Blow who is not intimate with a given city and gets off a plane and just walks around the cores. Another different analogy of my point is my friend who just bought a house about the same size as me but had the kitchen opened up and it does "feel" larger now, even though the square footage hasn't changed. Design can impact feeling.

Last edited by johnathanc; 03-29-2015 at 09:50 AM..
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Old 03-29-2015, 09:53 AM
 
Location: Toronto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnathanc View Post
I'm not trying to sell or promote anything, numbers and numbers and Toronto likely has more people in its city proper at this point. I live right in the middle of the city, I see things are changing with growth everyday. But my point is not about numbers, its more about city structures and set up and how they can impact the feeling of size and grandness of a city for visitors, and I think Chicago's design does big city better. My friends from Toronto felt like Chicago was bigger after looking at the subway and highway maps and walking the main arteries when visiting. Many people do but maybe not everyone, it's all good. I fully agree that Toronto's large skyline adds to a big city feeling for sure, but the limited subway system and lack of large pedestrian and stately streets on the ground don't justify the current size of the city. I also don't think the set up of spreading out parks, bars and other amenities help create a big feeling because they become less accessible to people. I'm thinking about it from the perspective of Joe Blow who is not intimate with a given city and gets off a plane and just walks around the cores. Another different analogy of my point is my friend who just bought a house about the same size as me but had the kitchen opened up and it does "feel" larger now, even though the square footage hasn't changed. Design can impact feeling.
Actually when worded this way I don't necessarily disagree.. Chicago probably has a larger freeway network for example though its hard to imagine anyone driving on the 401 who's actually been on it and concluding that any other single highway in Chicago is as large or busy because in the case of it and the 427 its just not the case. Really though, its a moot point re highways - they suck anyway in terms of urbanity. Its the same thing with subways - a more extensive subway map i'll buy it but I just found our stations that we do have larger - our subway cars themselves bigger and more substantial and ridership higher which to me anyway seems 'bigger' in feel on the ground..

Toronto's urban design even in the core is different so it isn't going to give you the same 'feel' as a city like Chicago I agree.. The biggest difference - our streets are generally narrower - heck our burbs have generally much wider streets than the city core. Toronto is a large DT core of generally narrower arterials in comparison to Chicago's arterials that are more open! Chicago's DT cores tallest buildings also felt taller because they are lol - but it also wasn't necessarily as densely packed across the board to me - the wide streets actually pushed density apart more as I saw it so I factored all that in. For sure the streets were more 'stately' (There's even a State Street lol) and as mentioned wider which impacted perception and that isn't a bad thing - just different and I actually I preferred that element in Chicago's DT core.. There were also aesthetic elements to it that I prefer over Toronto that go beyond just architecture that Toronto doesn't have which give it a more grand 'feel' which plays on all that.. This element of grand design was done really when Chicago was a far larger and more important city than Toronto and as the saying goes - they don't build them like they used to has a lot of truth to it.. On the flip - I wasn't as impressed with 24/7 ped vibrancy in the core area of Chicago vs Toronto - Chicago's just felt more transient and less rooted and for me that is the biggest advantage a city like Toronto has over Chicago.

Back to overall 'feel' I suppose I'm using where we are and where we are going more as a barometer for 'feel'.. For example lets just get out of the core and look at the city propers - for me driving around T.O with all these cranes and much more prevalent highrise milieu even outside the core is creating a bigger city proper 'feel' - I didn't see anything when my friend drove me outside of Chicago's core that was close to NYCC, Etob, or Mississauga at all.. Now, I did find that mid-rise contiguous density gave the city of Chicago a more contiguous feel to it.. Toronto's city proper actually has a lot of green canopy with pockets of higher density dotted throughout. They both have a lot of low rise SFH home density and in regard Toronto is actually more dense. I have to disagree with you about parks - I think its one of our biggest assets to have large green areas and large parks throughout our city - its great for real residents of a city who live in it to be able to go to parks like High Park, David Balfour, Scarborough Bluffs and the many huge one's we do for real people who live close to them and use/enjoy them. Give me that over endless concrete please! Why the heck would I want to travel to a park in the DT core if I live close to High park for example - I'd rather just enjoy High Park!!

I suppose everyone does have a different concept of big 'feel' and don't get me wrong a 1900 sq foot house can generally feel bigger than a 2000 sq ft house based solely on design so I get what you are saying and I can even see those who aren't familiar with either city well would get certain impressions. I think if any visitor had someone in the know who was objective taking them around each city they probably would have a more complete picture of what is as opposed to just what feels. Regardless, There are certain design elements that we can't change in Toronto - but what is happening is the city is densifying at a greater clip than Chicago and this will most certainly add to increased big city feel and also it will increase ped vibrancy over time..

Chicago and Toronto share similar elements but overall they are just different cities with growth spurts at different times.. Even though they have big DT cores - they are very different in terms of design, layout and feel.. Toronto is a city on the move in terms of densification and development - Chicago is in a bit of a rut in comparison but its also got a huge legacy that Toronto doesn't have.. They're both great cities and I think it is good that we actually have two Great Lake cities like them.. I wouldn't have it any other way but for Torontonians who are aware of what is going on, I think it has become a situation where we no longer feel that that other great lakes city is quite as big and quite as impressive as she used to be to us, 10-15 years ago I wouldn't have even dared to say that but not now and there are very solid reasons for that.

Last edited by fusion2; 03-29-2015 at 10:49 AM..
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Old 03-29-2015, 12:48 PM
 
Location: Cambridge, MA/London, UK
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Just to briefly chime in, I view Toronto as a big city. If we exclude Toronto from that description, then we basically have only a few big cities in North America, which I really do not think is reality. It is obviously not a mega city in any shape or form though.

As far as downtown population is concerned, I think it is an inaccurate method of comparing cities or measuring vibrancy. First off every city has their own way of defining "Downtown". You also have cities that are fragmented due to historical and political reasons. Also many cities punch well above their weight when it comes to vibrancy, even with a smaller "downtown" population. Use Tel Aviv as an example, smaller downtown population to both Chicago and Toronto, but makes both of them look/feel like Biloxi Mississippi in comparison on street level.

It is not fair to compare Chicago and Toronto to European cities, but it does not mean they should not strive to adopt many of the positives that make them such wonderful places to spend time at street level. I saw the example of Istanbul earlier and Toronto will never be Instanbul or have its own İstiklâl Caddesi, but it can definitely have a version of it that is uniquely Torontonian and the city will be a better place as a result. I think what will always seperate the two is the fact that places like Istanbul have multiple vibrant/grand avenues. We could make a heck of a list like Bağdat, Abdi İpekçi and my personal favorite Bahariye amonst others, but it doesn't mean Toronto and Chicago should accept punching well below their weight in this department.

I think Chicago is ripe for another renaissance and Toronto is still growing up, which is exciting, so hopefully they become more welcoming cities to pedestrian life in the future.
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Old 03-29-2015, 03:07 PM
 
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Yeah, downtown population is important but not everything. If we look at major American cities, Boston, Philadelphia and San Francisco all have smaller downtown populations than Toronto and Chicago but all do a good job in terms of vibrancy and transition from downtown to neighborhoods. Center City is a good example of a mixed commercial/residential downtown, quite sizable but not huge. As I said above, all three are better in terms of "flow", as is Toronto.

If you're not sure what I mean, try walking from the Loop to Chicago's Chinatown sometime, or to the Near West Side. North is the only direction where you get a nice transition.
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Old 03-29-2015, 03:14 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edwardsyzzurphands View Post
Just to briefly chime in, I view Toronto as a big city. If we exclude Toronto from that description, then we basically have only a few big cities in North America, which I really do not think is reality. It is obviously not a mega city in any shape or form though.

As far as downtown population is concerned, I think it is an inaccurate method of comparing cities or measuring vibrancy. First off every city has their own way of defining "Downtown". You also have cities that are fragmented due to historical and political reasons. Also many cities punch well above their weight when it comes to vibrancy, even with a smaller "downtown" population. Use Tel Aviv as an example, smaller downtown population to both Chicago and Toronto, but makes both of them look/feel like Biloxi Mississippi in comparison on street level.

It is not fair to compare Chicago and Toronto to European cities, but it does not mean they should not strive to adopt many of the positives that make them such wonderful places to spend time at street level. I saw the example of Istanbul earlier and Toronto will never be Instanbul or have its own İstiklâl Caddesi, but it can definitely have a version of it that is uniquely Torontonian and the city will be a better place as a result. I think what will always seperate the two is the fact that places like Istanbul have multiple vibrant/grand avenues. We could make a heck of a list like Bağdat, Abdi İpekçi and my personal favorite Bahariye amonst others, but it doesn't mean Toronto and Chicago should accept punching well below their weight in this department.

I think Chicago is ripe for another renaissance and Toronto is still growing up, which is exciting, so hopefully they become more welcoming cities to pedestrian life in the future.
You are absolutely right regarding ped vibrancy.. Heck Marrakech kills both Toronto and Chicago in just Jma El Fna square alone lol and its a small city.. I think its important to realize that Canamerican cities and generally our culture is such that we are just going to be lower on the ped vibrancy scale than most Asian, Euro and South American/Latin American/African countries..

I would love to see Toronto become more like those places!! I think Botticelli and others including yourself are spot on about the lack of pedestrian only streets in the city - especially the core.. As you know, I don't even live DT anymore and I drove down to visit a friend on a Saturday and in just 6 months i've noticed a difference in terms of how busy it feels down there and this is at the end of March including traffic - which was just painful as usual.. I've made a commitment to myself that any future visits will just be by PT.. I honestly don't even know why people drive in DT Toronto.. Streets too narrow often one at most 2 lanes and it would make a HUGE difference to just make at least some of them ped only arteries.. Can anyone say DT relief line.... Anyway, If you took Yonge street between King and Bloor and made that Ped only - especially in the summer it would be an extremely vibrant and busy stretch. It would just open things right up.. Right now its painful walking up and downt that stretch - narrow sidewalks overflowing with people.. Often you see people literally walking on the street in active lanes just to pass because its just so slow..

As for the population of the DT core of Chicago and DT Toronto.. You are right you'd have to compare similar areas as boundaries are arbitrary.. With that said, knowing what you know about both - would it surprise you that the number of people living within DT Toronto would exceed that of DT Chicago? It certainly wouldn't surprise me..

Not sure if you saw this in an earlier post but this was done back in 2012.. Since than T.O has been on overdrive with condo's in the DT core and city in general..

//www.city-data.com/forum/26233867-post2105.html

Does this mean that automatically T.O has more ped vibrancy in its DT core than Chicago - well no but we are comparing two Canamerican cities... Regardless - they both are pretty vibrant and trying to nail this down to a science is sort of foolhardy but its always interesting to look at numbers too.

Last edited by fusion2; 03-29-2015 at 03:26 PM..
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Old 03-30-2015, 05:49 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnathanc View Post
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.
Gotcha. If you put it that way then I can kinda see where you guys are coming from. But I still dont think Toronto feels like a mid-sized city though.
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Old 03-30-2015, 05:50 PM
 
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Originally Posted by fusion2 View Post
You are absolutely right regarding ped vibrancy.. Heck Marrakech kills both Toronto and Chicago in just Jma El Fna square alone lol and its a small city.. I think its important to realize that Canamerican cities and generally our culture is such that we are just going to be lower on the ped vibrancy scale than most Asian, Euro and South American/Latin American/African countries..

I would love to see Toronto become more like those places!! I think Botticelli and others including yourself are spot on about the lack of pedestrian only streets in the city - especially the core.. As you know, I don't even live DT anymore and I drove down to visit a friend on a Saturday and in just 6 months i've noticed a difference in terms of how busy it feels down there and this is at the end of March including traffic - which was just painful as usual.. I've made a commitment to myself that any future visits will just be by PT.. I honestly don't even know why people drive in DT Toronto.. Streets too narrow often one at most 2 lanes and it would make a HUGE difference to just make at least some of them ped only arteries.. Can anyone say DT relief line.... Anyway, If you took Yonge street between King and Bloor and made that Ped only - especially in the summer it would be an extremely vibrant and busy stretch. It would just open things right up.. Right now its painful walking up and downt that stretch - narrow sidewalks overflowing with people.. Often you see people literally walking on the street in active lanes just to pass because its just so slow..

As for the population of the DT core of Chicago and DT Toronto.. You are right you'd have to compare similar areas as boundaries are arbitrary.. With that said, knowing what you know about both - would it surprise you that the number of people living within DT Toronto would exceed that of DT Chicago? It certainly wouldn't surprise me..

Not sure if you saw this in an earlier post but this was done back in 2012.. Since than T.O has been on overdrive with condo's in the DT core and city in general..

//www.city-data.com/forum/26233867-post2105.html

Does this mean that automatically T.O has more ped vibrancy in its DT core than Chicago - well no but we are comparing two Canamerican cities... Regardless - they both are pretty vibrant and trying to nail this down to a science is sort of foolhardy but its always interesting to look at numbers too.
Agreed on all points.
Good post.
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Old 03-31-2015, 06:35 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrjun18 View Post
Gotcha. If you put it that way then I can kinda see where you guys are coming from. But I still dont think Toronto feels like a mid-sized city though.
I don't think Toronto feels mid-sized either at its current state. Not sure where you read into that. Although certain aspects of TO feel like they were designed for a city smaller than what it has evolved into. Both Chicago and Toronto more than qualify as "large" cities, but not "mega" cities, at least in North America. Both also bring some limelight to the Great Lakes region as well, as they are both the major anchors.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Lakes_Megalopolis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_L...egaregions.png

Last edited by johnathanc; 03-31-2015 at 07:26 AM..
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