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  #41  
Old Posted Apr 15, 2017, 9:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Docere View Post
The "Bathurst to Don" official definition was initially called the Central Area by planners back in the 70s (downtown was contained within this area).
Cool, I didn't know that. I don't think it makes much sense to call a place like Kensington or the Annex downtown - they're central neighbourhoods. Bloor between Sherbourne and Avenue is more like downtown though.

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Originally Posted by kwoldtimer View Post
Yes, I would include all those neighbourhoods as downtown. Anything between Bathurst and Parliament (at least) and from Bloor to the lake. Adding in Yorkville, which doesn't really strike me as a "neighbourhood".
You're probably thinking of Yorkville around the highend Bloor strip but further north, Yorkville is very neighbourhood-y.


I'm curious about Victoria, would someone say it has strong neighbourhoods? I feel it's safe to assume its downtown is quite strong.
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  #42  
Old Posted Apr 15, 2017, 9:26 PM
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In terms of Toronto/Vancouver, St. Lawrence seems analogous to Gastown and Church-Wellesley to the West End.

The Central Area is a "greater downtown." Actually held up pretty well over the past 40 years or so.

In the 1960s, downtown was officially College to Front, University to Jarvis. Certainly since that time, it has expanded significantly.

Last edited by Docere; Apr 15, 2017 at 9:38 PM.
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  #43  
Old Posted Apr 15, 2017, 9:55 PM
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Originally Posted by shappy View Post
You're probably thinking of Yorkville around the highend Bloor strip but further north, Yorkville is very neighbourhood-y.
I'd say Davenport Rd. is a good dividing line between "downtown-y" Yorkville and "neighborhood-y" Yorkville.

I like your western boundary. I'd have your downtown proper area stretch north to Bloor-Yorkville and east to maybe Jarvis.

Last edited by Docere; Apr 15, 2017 at 10:05 PM.
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  #44  
Old Posted Apr 15, 2017, 10:18 PM
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Anyway I'm going to have check out Calgary's downtown when I'm there next month.

Calgary strikes me more as a suburban city more than anything else, but let's see how much that's changed in the Nenshi area.
Calgary does have a very strong downtown core basically hemmed in by the CPR tracks to the south and the Bow River to the north. There are four nearby nodes (Kensington, Bridgeland, Inglewood and the Beltline) that will attract a good number of people to them - some people even consider the Beltline as a part of downtown but these four areas still have a very non-downtown feel to them. The Beltline's increasing height though is where the line starts to blur between itself and downtown - maybe the best defining feature of downtown Calgary's core would be the area that is served by the +15 system.
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  #45  
Old Posted Apr 15, 2017, 10:23 PM
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I've lived in Calgary since March 1, after 14 years in Vancouver. A question for longer term Calgarians: Do you count the Beltline as downtown? I live and work within easy walking distance of 17th Ave SW. That seems to be the entertainment heart of the city in a stronger way than any particular area in Vancouver.

The business district itself seems very quiet after working hours. My first impressions may be wrong, however.

To go back to the reference to Chicago in the OP, by the way, Chicago has some anazing older suburbs on the train routes radiating out from downtown. They make it a neighbourhood as well as a downtown city.
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  #46  
Old Posted Apr 15, 2017, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Docere View Post
I'd say Davenport Rd. is a good dividing line between "downtown-y" Yorkville and "neighborhood-y" Yorkville.
I think Scollard is the better dividing line. Avenue is still built up and could be considered part of downtown but the interior areas are definitely neighbourhood-y.


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I like your western boundary. I'd have your downtown proper area stretch north to Bloor-Yorkville and east to maybe Jarvis.
Yeah, Jarvis could be included south of Gerrard. Church/Wellesley is a central neighbourhood straight up though.
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  #47  
Old Posted Apr 16, 2017, 12:12 AM
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Scollard is the "ideal" line I guess though Davenport is better for statistical purposes since that's the census tract boundary.

I see your point about Church-Wellesley, it's very much an apartment neighborhood.
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  #48  
Old Posted Apr 17, 2017, 6:08 PM
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I don't see Vancouver (the city proper) as anything but a downtown city. There are distinctive neighbourhoods within the city yes but they all create a very "downtown" feeling.

Calgary is probably the closest thing to a balance. Strong downtown and strong neighbourhoods

Edmonton is definitely a neighbourhood city. Its strong neighbourhoods are one of it's redeeming features
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  #49  
Old Posted Apr 17, 2017, 7:49 PM
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Vancouver's "Downtown Peninsula" allows for a pretty solid separation between "downtown" and "the neighborhoods" - though the West End is also very much a neighborhood.
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  #50  
Old Posted Apr 17, 2017, 7:58 PM
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I don't see Vancouver (the city proper) as anything but a downtown city. There are distinctive neighbourhoods within the city yes but they all create a very "downtown" feeling.s
Not sure where you draw the line but Kits, Mt Pleasant, Marpole, Point Grey, Commercial Drive and Kerrisdale are all really solid neighbourhoods distinct from downtown. To me Calgary to me seems the least balanced. Outside of a few neighbourhoods immediately adjacent to downtown (inglewood, Kensington, Mission) it's very downtown focused.

I'd say Toronto is the best balance of strong downtown and strong neighbourhoods. Downtown packs a huge punch but the true strength of Toronto lies outside of Bay and King in places like Ossington, Queen West, the Annex, the Junction, Roncesvalles, the Danforth and on and on...
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  #51  
Old Posted Apr 17, 2017, 8:05 PM
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Vancouver's transition from downtown to neighborhoods isn't as smooth as that of Toronto, given physical geography. Part of it may be history too - as Van lacks a "rowhouse belt."

Still, I agree Van does have some good neighborhoods too. Kitsilano for instance feels very quintessentially "Vancouver" to me.
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  #52  
Old Posted Apr 17, 2017, 8:51 PM
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Originally Posted by 240glt View Post
Calgary is probably the closest thing to a balance. Strong downtown and strong neighbourhoods

Edmonton is definitely a neighbourhood city. Its strong neighbourhoods are one of it's redeeming features
Okay, I'll bite: what is "strong" about the neighbourhoods in Calgary and Edmonton? How do they form distinctive urban villages? I haven't seen or heard anything to that effect, but I admit I don't know much about those places.

My understanding is that aside from the obvious choices of Toronto and Montreal, the only places in Canada that do literally have thirty to forty distinctive neighbourhoods within them that you couldn't ever mistake one for the other, the rest of the larger cities in Canada don't generally have more than several distinctive neighbourhoods forming a small portion of otherwise generally generic urbanity.

My only prairie experience is with Winnipeg, but it's a good example. You've got the rougher North End, the granola-ish Wolseley, francophone St. Boniface, posh Wellington Crescent, ostensibly hipster Osborne Village and ostensibly Little Italy-ish Corydon, but the rest of the city is essentially indistinguishable for all intents and purposes. So is Winnipeg a "great neighbourhood city"?

Of course not. It's a nice place and all, but no metro of 700,000 people in North America is going to provide distinctive, tradition-rich neighbourhoods that you could spend time exploring. It's just not in the cards. So I'm curious how one could claim that for Calgary and Edmonton, as my cursory impression is that they're not all that different from Winnipeg.
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  #53  
Old Posted Apr 17, 2017, 9:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Docere View Post
Vancouver's transition from downtown to neighborhoods isn't as smooth as that of Toronto, given physical geography. Part of it may be history too - as Van lacks a "rowhouse belt."
I guess the best example of transitioning neighbourhoods has to be along Hastings, starting from where Barnet turns into Hastings. Probly not a great example though.
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  #54  
Old Posted Apr 17, 2017, 9:45 PM
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My understanding is that aside from the obvious choices of Toronto and Montreal, the only places in Canada that do literally have thirty to forty distinctive neighbourhoods within them that you couldn't ever mistake one for the other, the rest of the larger cities in Canada don't generally have more than several distinctive neighbourhoods forming a small portion of otherwise generally generic urbanity.

My only prairie experience is with Winnipeg, but it's a good example. You've got the rougher North End, the granola-ish Wolseley, francophone St. Boniface, posh Wellington Crescent, ostensibly hipster Osborne Village and ostensibly Little Italy-ish Corydon, but the rest of the city is essentially indistinguishable for all intents and purposes. So is Winnipeg a "great neighbourhood city"?

...

Of course not. It's a nice place and all, but no metro of 700,000 people in North America is going to provide distinctive, tradition-rich neighbourhoods that you could spend time exploring. It's just not in the cards.
This seems like an odd way to frame the discussion. What are the bigger cities in Canada, aside from Toronto and Montreal? Vancouver was a pioneer town in 1880. If you expand your horizons to include the rest of North America, there are many cities of any size that have a great wealth of impressive neighbourhoods that stand up to Montreal or Toronto. And the historic parts can be a much higher proportion of the town (25-90%) than what you see in Montreal or Toronto.

I don't know Winnipeg well enough to comment but in Quebec City or Halifax, the old parts are extensive and will take you days to cover on foot (I know this because every time I visit I run out of time). They're not one or two little clumps of quirky shops in brick buildings from the early 1900's surrounded by suburbia, and they both offer different things from Montreal or Toronto.

The US has lots of great old cities like Portland ME, Boston, NYC, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Charleston, New Orleans, and on and on. A lot of the US cities make their Canadian equivalents look shabby. Mexico and the Caribbean can knock the socks off of Canada and the US for historic architecture and, often, vibrancy. Some of those cities are huge but others are not, e.g. San Francisco de Campeche has thousands of historic buildings, is a UNESCO heritage site, and has around 200,000 people.

The notion that you can't have an interesting city without millions of people is not true when you expand your horizons beyond Ontario and Western Canada. And even in those places it's a simple consequence of the fact that cities in those places are so suburban.
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  #55  
Old Posted Apr 17, 2017, 9:46 PM
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Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
My understanding is that aside from the obvious choices of Toronto and Montreal, the only places in Canada that do literally have thirty to forty distinctive neighbourhoods within them that you couldn't ever mistake one for the other, the rest of the larger cities in Canada don't generally have more than several distinctive neighbourhoods forming a small portion of otherwise generally generic urbanity.
What are your criteria for a distinctive neighbourhood? After Vancouver, there is a huge drop-off in urban neighbourhoods that you'll find in each respective Canadian city.
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  #56  
Old Posted Apr 17, 2017, 9:52 PM
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^^ well there may be some matter of opinion as to what a "strong neighbourhood" really is. In Edmonton's case, the amount of engagement you see within community organizations is pretty impressive. The vast majority of neighbourhoods in the city has a well known and supported community league. Those lesgues almost all have their own buildings, programming and (for worse) the city has dowloaded a lot of responsibility onto those leagues to deal with planning and development issues

In my last neighbourhood, I helped re-build a community league, and now it is very successful, providing a significant amount of programming, workshops and neighbourhood building in the community. In the community I am in now, there is a concerted effort to circumvent the local development authority and they've got quite a lot of support from people who are signing restrictive covenants to prevent certain things from happening. That's what I mean by strong communities

Calgary has similar neighbourhood dynamics, but they also have an impressive downtown as well. Edmonton's communities are stronger I think, but our downtown is pretty lacklustre
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  #57  
Old Posted Apr 17, 2017, 10:06 PM
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If you expand your horizons to include the rest of North America, there are many cities of any size that have a great wealth of impressive neighbourhoods that stand up to Montreal or Toronto.
Well, it is the Canadian forum.

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The US has lots of great old cities like Portland ME, Boston, NYC, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Charleston, New Orleans, and on and on. A lot of the US cities make their Canadian equivalents look shabby. Mexico and the Caribbean can knock the socks off of Canada and the US for historic architecture and, often, vibrancy. Some of those cities are huge but others are not, e.g. San Francisco de Campeche has thousands of historic buildings, is a UNESCO heritage site, and has around 200,000 people.
I wasn't making grand pronouncements about cities throughout the world. I simply made one off-hand comment about medium-sized cities in North America.

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The notion that you can't have an interesting city without millions of people is not true when you expand your horizons beyond Ontario and Western Canada.
Are we still in the Canadian forum here?

In any case, I didn't suggest that interesting cities have to have millions of people. But that does seem like a prerequisite in Canada (and the rest of North America) if you're looking for dozens of distinct neighbourhoods instead of just several.

Which is not to say that smaller cities can't be interesting. That's not the topic at hand, though.
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  #58  
Old Posted Apr 17, 2017, 10:09 PM
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^^ well there may be some matter of opinion as to what a "strong neighbourhood" really is. In Edmonton's case, the amount of engagement you see within community organizations is pretty impressive.
See, that's what's causing the confusion. Because what you've described happens in every single city in Canada. Every single one. Can you think of a city without active community organizations?

I thought the intention of this thread was pretty obvious, which was that a city with strong neighbourhoods means that the neighbourhoods are impressive and distinct from each other, as opposed to a city where the downtown is the major and/or only focus.
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  #59  
Old Posted Apr 17, 2017, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
I wasn't making grand pronouncements about cities throughout the world. I simply made one off-hand comment about medium-sized cities in North America.
Well, you wrote this:

Of course not. It's a nice place and all, but no metro of 700,000 people in North America is going to provide distinctive, tradition-rich neighbourhoods that you could spend time exploring. It's just not in the cards.

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In any case, I didn't suggest that interesting cities have to have millions of people. But that does seem like a prerequisite in Canada (and the rest of North America) if you're looking for dozens of distinct neighbourhoods instead of just several.
I'm not sure what you mean by interesting neighbourhood. I am sure reasonable people can disagree here.

Would you consider, say, Yonge and Eglinton to be an interesting neighbourhood? It is a busy area with storefront retail but I am not sure I would agree. I don't feel like a visitor would be missing a whole lot if they skipped that area. Residents probably don't go there much unless they have a specific reason to. Toronto has a lot of somewhat generic streetcar suburban retail strips. Some of them are interesting because they have attracted specific immigrant communities. I'd say they're modestly interesting? I would put parts of Queen Street W into the interesting category for sure.

The condo towers and 70's slabs in Toronto add a lot of vibrancy but they're not very interesting to walk around either. I would say that the part of Toronto that are really great to explore on foot are not vast (a few km by a few km, plus some extra streets).

My absolute favourite neighbourhoods in Canada date to before about 1870. I also like exploring old forts and monuments and the like.

My own completely subjective opinion is that I'd put maybe 2-4x the land area in Toronto in the "great to explore on foot" category compared to Quebec City, and I would rank the nicest parts of Quebec City above anywhere in Toronto. So I don't feel like Toronto is hugely more interesting than Quebec City neighbourhood-wise. I think a lot of people would get more enjoyment out of exploring Quebec City.
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  #60  
Old Posted Apr 17, 2017, 10:20 PM
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^^ well speaking for the larger western cities there does seem to be stronger community focus in Edmonton.

I'm not so sure this does happen in every city. I've lived throughout the west and the cities do have varying degrees of engagement
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