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  #61  
Old Posted Apr 17, 2017, 10:25 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. And the historic parts can be a much higher proportion of the town (25-90%) than what you see in Montreal or Toronto.
We're talking at cross-purposes here, and you seem to be taking the thread on a tangent. That there is better urban architecture in a place like Boston than there is in Toronto isn't the point.

Other than the obvious ones, what smaller cities in North America have something like thirty or more truly distinctive, unique neighbourhoods like Toronto and Montreal do? I can't really think of any, but I'm not an expert on every single place out there like Omaha or Denver. Still, though, unless I'm totally out to lunch, I can't imagine that Pittsburgh has anything close to what Toronto has, i.e. the contrast of going from Little India to Kensington, the Beaches to Yorkville, the Danforth to West Queen West, etc.
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  #62  
Old Posted Apr 17, 2017, 10:30 PM
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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.
Okay, I don't know what this thread is about then. Because as much as I love Quebec City, and agree that so much of it is so very much prettier than anything in Toronto, the neighbourhoods in Toronto are about three hundred thousand times more interesting and diverse and distinct from each other than in Quebec City.

My impression was that "strong neighbourhood city" meant a city with all kinds of different neighbourhoods offering up different vibes and experiences, as per the intention of this thread.
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  #63  
Old Posted Apr 17, 2017, 10:31 PM
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Other than the obvious ones, what smaller cities in North America have something like thirty or more truly distinctive, unique neighbourhoods like Toronto and Montreal do?
It doesn't really matter but you are taking it for granted that you can find thirty or forty great neighbourhoods in Toronto and I'm not. I do think we might just have different standards (how many Pizza Pizzas and Petro-Cans do you include in your great Danforth? ). I'm also questioning whether a Danforth should get you 1 point along with, say, Old Quebec or some portion thereof.

The neighbourhood boundaries are arbitrary so I tend to think more in terms of exploration time.

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Okay, I don't know what this thread is about then. Because as much as I love Quebec City, and agree that so much of it is so very much prettier than anything in Toronto, the neighbourhoods in Toronto are about three hundred thousand times more interesting and diverse and distinct from each other than in Quebec City.
I rank history, architecture, and distinct local culture pretty highly. Ethnic diversity can be interesting but I don't consider it a be-all and end-all, partly because so many cities use it as a claim to fame.
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  #64  
Old Posted Apr 17, 2017, 10:34 PM
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But Old Quebec is the downtown of Quebec City. It's not a "neighourhood," it's the city's St. Catherine or Yonge Street.

Edit: Believe it or not, while I'm sometimes antagonistic on this forum, my animated responses on this thread are because I'm genuinely curious. I'm well-acquainted with the great wealth of distinct neighbourhoods in Toronto and Montreal, and I know exactly what a place like Winnipeg has to offer, but I don't know much about this aspect of other places. Thing is, so far it seems like people are mentioning community organizations and historical architecture instead of what I'd thought the intention of this thread was.
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  #65  
Old Posted Apr 17, 2017, 11:40 PM
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I think if you carved out similar central parts of both cities the story wouldn't change much, because a lot of the more interesting parts of Toronto are downtown too. But from my perspective, the oldest parts of Quebec have maintained a fine-grained neighbourhood character, and this is one of the strengths of that city. A lot of the development that might have taken out the nicest blocks of Quebec instead ended up in places like Ste-Foy.

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I'm well-acquainted with the great wealth of distinct neighbourhoods in Toronto and Montreal, and I know exactly what a place like Winnipeg has to offer, but I don't know much about this aspect of other places. Thing is, so far it seems like people are mentioning community organizations and historical architecture instead of what I'd thought the intention of this thread was.
To me, historical architecture can be a major part of what makes a neighbourhood great. I don't think people would like Paris or Amsterdam as much if they were all 1960's concrete (there are densely built-up European neighbourhoods with post-WWII architecture and they tend not to be as popular). I get a lot of joy out of exploring cities and seeing hints of what things used to be like, and evidence of past events. There's often a level of craftsmanship in older buildings you just don't seen in newer construction (I mean 1600's vs 1700's vs 1800's). Like I said, I also find endemic culture to be more interesting.

I don't mind the 1910's and 20's commercial blocks but they are just not the same. I'm sure somebody from Rome might say that the 1700's buildings in Canada aren't impressive either.

My impression of your opinion on this matter is that you more or less imagine scaling up what each city has to offer by looking at its population. I think this is somewhat true in smaller areas like Ontario or Western Canada but falls apart in Eastern Canada. Quebec City is not like Winnipeg or a mini Toronto. Halifax and St. John's for that matter are not mini Torontos or Winnipegs.

The city with the greatest density of historic neighbourhoods (pre-20th century) in Canada is Saint John NB. There are literally places where you get Victorian houses and shops next to rocks and trees around the undeveloped fringe of town. European settlement there goes back 400 years and you can bump into Benedict Arnold's house, etc. It's not at all what you'd expect if you imagined it looked like a arbitrary Ontario or Alberta city scaled to 120,000 people.
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  #66  
Old Posted Apr 18, 2017, 12:08 AM
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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.
I could be reading this comment wrong and maybe it has more to do with the topic of having countless different neighborhoods, but in my personal opinion Victoria is a very interesting city (actually my favorite in Canada). It is far less than a million and in Western Canada... And there are other interesting neighborhoods and areas in Victoria than just downtown before someone asks. Of course nothing like the big guys being discussed, but not bad for a city of 350 000.

Also from what I have seen Kingston, Ontario looks really interesting. Not to mention even small towns such as Nelson and Tofino that many would argue are interesting towns.
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  #67  
Old Posted Apr 18, 2017, 12:19 AM
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Seems like a few feathers have been ruffled and we're starting to trend into silly territory.

Anyway, thanks for mentioning Victoria, Metro-One. A few family members went to Victoria last year and loved it. They mentioned the downtown was really nice and it does look like it's a healthy city centre. Can you elaborate on the neighbourhoods?
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  #68  
Old Posted Apr 18, 2017, 12:23 AM
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My impression of your opinion on this matter is that you more or less imagine scaling up what each city has to offer by looking at its population.
We seem to be talking about entirely different things. As per the first post in this thread:

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Is your city known for having a busy, solid downtown or for putting its energy into a wider array of vibrant neighbourhoods?
A small city without a wide array of vibrant neighbourhoods could still be interesting to visit as a tourist, I agree. Like Quebec City. Or even Saint John. But that's not what this thread is about.
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  #69  
Old Posted Apr 18, 2017, 12:31 AM
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I interpret the difference as being that a 'neighbourhood city' is one where the neighbourhoods are stronger, irrespective of whether or not some other city has more interesting neighbourhoods (in quality or quantity) and a 'downtown city' where there may be strong neighbourhoods, but the downtown's utter domination subverts their presence in the urban psyche. In this case, Edmonton is a neighbourhood city and Calgary is a downtown city, even if Toronto or Montreal have dozens more interesting neighbourhoods. It's simply not a fair comparison in that case. I think I'd categorize Quebec City as more downtownish but, like Vancouver, it still has very strong neighbourhoods.
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  #70  
Old Posted Apr 18, 2017, 12:34 AM
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Originally Posted by shappy View Post
Seems like a few feathers have been ruffled and we're starting to trend into silly territory.

Anyway, thanks for mentioning Victoria, Metro-One. A few family members went to Victoria last year and loved it. They mentioned the downtown was really nice and it does look like it's a healthy city centre. Can you elaborate on the neighbourhoods?
I would say Victoria is more of a downtown city, but it does have some other unique areas with strong identities.

The most obvious are Esquimalt, home to the navy base, which actually has some of western Canada's oldest brick / stone structures. This activity creates a unique flavour to the area of course. They give tours of the actual base often, highly recommended.

Then there is Oak Bay, a classic "Old money" estates type neighborhood. Not everyone's cup of tea for an urban area, but I love the winding roads with the mature Oaks cascading over them with countless views of the sea. A unique neighborhood in Canada I would say. Not even Van has one quite the same. Here I would recommend doing a bike tour of.

There are a couple really neat hippie neighborhoods east of downtown with interesting strips of cafes and art galleries, can't remember their exact neighborhood names right now.

Then of course there is the university area.

Someone who lives in Victoria can answer this better than me.
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  #71  
Old Posted Apr 18, 2017, 12:37 AM
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Supporters of Rob Ford complained that under Miller the city government was too focused on "downtown." But of course in their bizarro world everything south of Eglinton between the Humber River and Victoria Park is "downtown."
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  #72  
Old Posted Apr 18, 2017, 12:40 AM
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A large disconnect here. Seems everybody has a different interpretation of what "neighbourhood" means. I would call Victoria a purely downtown city.
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  #73  
Old Posted Apr 18, 2017, 12:50 AM
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Well are Kensington Market, Church-Wellesley, St. Lawrence and Yorkville examples of neighborhoods, or are they parts of a mixed-use downtown?

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  #74  
Old Posted Apr 18, 2017, 12:59 AM
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I would call Victoria a purely downtown city.
Based off some quick street viewing, it would appear to be the case. Does it have any cohesively older residential streets?
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  #75  
Old Posted Apr 18, 2017, 3:01 AM
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A large disconnect here. Seems everybody has a different interpretation of what "neighbourhood" means. I would call Victoria a purely downtown city.
It is definitely not a scientific definition, but for me a real neighborhood is somewhere that has its own true sense of place, and there are areas outside of downtown Victoria that have this (such as Oak Bay and Esquimalt), and are not like the traditional nameless sprawling suburbs. Both of this areas have existed as long as Victoria downtown has.

I agree though, overall Victoria is a downtown city. I was originally more referring to the silly comment that only cities over 1 million in Western Canada and Ontario are interesting.
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  #76  
Old Posted Apr 18, 2017, 3:12 AM
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Well are Kensington Market, Church-Wellesley, St. Lawrence and Yorkville examples of neighborhoods, or are they parts of a mixed-use downtown?
A downtown is like the old yarn about pornography: hard to define, but you know it when you see it.

If a city has areas that you can't classify as either "neighbourhood" or "downtown", chances are it's a more neighbourhood-oriented city.

My opinion is that St. Lawrence and Yorkville are downtown (although the quieter, residential parts of Yorkville like Hazelton Ave. may not be). Church and Wellesley and Kensington are definitely neighbourhoods; Kensington may be the greatest neighbourhood in Toronto, if not Canada.
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  #77  
Old Posted Apr 18, 2017, 3:24 AM
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Victoria is a great little city. One thing about it that really works is that its geography is perfectly scaled for its size. For example, its cove-like harbour would look like an insignificant slip if it were surrounded by skyscrapers, but they ringed it with mid-sized Edwardian-era landmarks that are imposing for a town of its size and age so it is a perfectly-scaled urban space. Moving out, the larger peninsula on which Victoria is situated is still small enough that you can bike around it in an afternoon, but large enough that you get neighbourhoods that get a view of a windswept, rugged coastline and those that empty out onto marinas in sheltered bays.

I find cities that are on peninsulas and islands interesting, but some luck out and some don't when it comes to size. I like Montreal but I think Montreal island is too big for Montreal. Likewise, I think Mumbai's peninsula is too small for Mumbai. Manhattan and Victoria are about right for the size of their respective cities.
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  #78  
Old Posted Apr 18, 2017, 3:27 AM
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Originally Posted by ue
I interpret the difference as being that a 'neighbourhood city' is one where the neighbourhoods are stronger, irrespective of whether or not some other city has more interesting neighbourhoods (in quality or quantity) and a 'downtown city' where there may be strong neighbourhoods, but the downtown's utter domination subverts their presence in the urban psyche. In this case, Edmonton is a neighbourhood city and Calgary is a downtown city
To add to this, when I think of strong neighbourhood cities, I think about how many communities organize around local institutions. The University of Alberta and Whyte Ave give Garneau and Strathcona their character, for example. In strong neighbourhoods, residents should be relatively more engaged in community life -- whether it's an arts festival, a farmer's market, or the opening of a new park.
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  #79  
Old Posted Apr 18, 2017, 4:34 PM
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I find cities that are on peninsulas and islands interesting, but some luck out and some don't when it comes to size. I like Montreal but I think Montreal island is too big for Montreal.
Hmm, never thought of that before, but you're right, Montreal would be spectacular if it was a smaller island from Olympic Stadium to Décarie east to west, and from the river to Jean-Talon south to north.

Likewise with Toronto. It would have been so cool if the Don Valley and Dufferin Street were these massive rivers going straight north.
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  #80  
Old Posted Apr 18, 2017, 5:42 PM
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Hmm, never thought of that before, but you're right, Montreal would be spectacular if it was a smaller island from Olympic Stadium to Décarie east to west, and from the river to Jean-Talon south to north.
This omits one of my top five Montreal hoods!
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