Historian of the city, politics, and society
One of the challenges of writing the history of urban transformations is that they don’t have clearly defined endings and beginnings. When I finished my PhD research on Yonge Street in 2016, the street was undergoing a massive new wave of development, with condo towers lining the upper stretch of the commercial strip. Now, in 2019, there is serious discussion at Toronto City Hall about the future of the lower stretch of the street, and ways to better recognize the reality that it is a busy, pedestrian-oriented shopping and entertainment area.
We’ve been here before. In fact similar discussions–including proposals for pedestrianization, bike lanes, limiting traffic, and installing benches, have been happening in Toronto since the early 1970s. In the past they have failed due to lack of political will, clashes with metropolitan transportation plans, and complaints from local businesses who relied (or thought they relied) on car traffic. What will happen this time around? Last week the Globe and Mail published an article on the latest version of this debate, citing my research on Yonge Street. You can read the article here.