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Accidental City: The Transformation of Toronto [Hardcover]

Robert Fulford
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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From Publishers Weekly

Toronto is "like San Francisco upside down," says Fulford, a columnist for the Globe and Mail and a disciple of noted urban sociologist Jane Jacobs. Built on steep, wooded ravines, the city was until recently a colorless provincial town, despite its varied topography. Within Fulford's lifetime, and thanks to both the successes and failures of central planners, Toronto has become a cosmopolitan center. Fulford describes ferocious struggles by its various ethnic communities to retain their different identities in the face of attempts to homogenize them, and he cites efforts to preserve the natural wilderness that has made present-day Toronto "a city within a park rather than a park within a city." Horrendous errors in architectural and planning decisions notwithstanding, Fulford claims it is now a city of vitality and beauty and feels that Toronto, in its haphazard, contentious development, has become one of North America's most livable cities. His book provides a witty, incisive study in urban development.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Toronto is one of the truly sparkling communities on our continent. This sparkling book tells how this has come about."
–John Kenneth Galbraith

"Accidental City is a joy…not just for Torontonians but for anyone interested in modern city life."
Quill & Quire

"Fulford, the foremost cultural journalist in the country [exhibits] his eye for the significant anecdote and the telling quotation, his awareness of the broad social and cultural context, his sense of irony, his unerring ability to puncture myth and pretension, and above all the grace and with of his prose."
–Philip Marchand, Toronto Star


From the Hardcover edition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and insightful April 9 2008
By IMHO
Format:Paperback
Forget the ridiculous one-star review because of lack of pictures. This book, although out-of-print, is well worth hunting down for those who love cities and especially those with a fondness for Toronto (especially, again, I might add, for those who grew up in the city as I did). Mr. Fulford wrote an excellent book with engaging and insightful comments and historical insight into many unique aspects of the city, and how it grew and developed into what it is today. The author weaves together history, architecture, social context, personal comments, humour and nuggets of little known facts with entertaining and vivid prose (no photos required!!).
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This books walks the reader through the history of Toronto with special emphasis on its architecture and city planning. We're introduced to various neighborhoods, and Fulford discusses specific buildings that he regards as either assets or eyesores, often including a bit of historical background on how that building came to be. The great flaw of the book is that there are only 16 pictures. When Fulford discusses a building (for instance, the Commercial Bank of the Midland District at 15 Wellington Street) we're supposed to be able to picture it in our mind's eye, a daunting challenge even for Toronto residents. In the same vein, an entire chapter is dedicated to criticizing the CBC Broadcasting Centre, but nowhere is there any illustration of it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A lost opportunity to document Toronto's architecture June 6 2001
By saskatoonguy - Published on Amazon.com
This books walks the reader through the history of Toronto with special emphasis on its architecture and city planning. We're introduced to various neighborhoods, and Fulford discusses specific buildings that he regards as either assets or eyesores, often including a bit of historical background on how that building came to be. The great flaw of the book is that there are only 16 pictures. When Fulford discusses a building (for instance, the Commercial Bank of the Midland District at 15 Wellington Street) we're supposed to be able to picture it in our mind's eye, a daunting challenge even for Toronto residents. In the same vein, an entire chapter is dedicated to criticizing the CBC Broadcasting Centre, but nowhere is there any illustration of it.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique look at a great city. Nov. 8 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Fulford grew up in Toronto. I purchased his book "The Best Seat in the House" and never put the thing down. This is another great read. He was a childhood friend of the great pianist Glenn Gould, and his memories of the City of Toronto are priceless. His look at Toronto today is unique, especially as the City transforms into the new Megacity in January 1998.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great tales of a great city May 10 2012
By Rob Simpson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Robert Fulford has a love for Toronto, which I share absolutely. I found it fascinating to peek behind the curtain and learn some of the stories that explain how Toronto came to be what it has become. I only wish this book were longer. I could happily have read a lot more. As it is, I went back to the start and dove into re-reading it.
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