ERA Architects

Jane’s Walk in Old York

On Saturday May 5th, ERA principal Michael McClelland joined Ken and Eti Greenberg to take a group of 65 participants on a Jane’s Walk in the heart of Toronto. Named for legendary urbanist Jane Jacobs, Jane’s Walks occur all over the world in the name of promoting urban literacy and the involvement of community in urban development.

Jane Jacobs’ critical writing and thinking has radically changed the way urban planning is practiced in North America. Her practice was clearly important to Ken and Eti Greenberg, whose work has also had a dramatic effect on downtown neighbourhoods in Toronto and elsewhere.

Saturday’s walk began at Victoria Memorial Square, which dates from 1763 as Toronto’s oldest burial place. The walk terminated at Toronto’s oldest park, Clarence Square, originally a central feature in a neighbourhood designed to attract the rich of the early 1800s.

Discussion on this walk ranged from the distant past to the immediate future. Subjects of interest included the area’s lavish mansions, now long-disappeared; land use and community changes resulting from Toronto’s “Two Kings” project of the 1990s; and the Thomson Corporation’s current plan to connect Draper St. to Spadina Ave. via a path of pedestrian-friendly streets.