Map of the Week: The Star's neighbourhood map (beta version)
|TONY BOCK/TORONTO STAR|
After the 1998 amalgamation of the six former cities of Metro Toronto came a debate about geography - like many other things, it could be blamed on Mike Harris.
To some, referring to former cities like Etobicoke and Scarborough (especially Scarborough, for some reason) was an anachronism to be avoided. 'Toronto's east end,' once the area of the former City of Toronto east of the Don, was now the entire metropolis east of Yonge St. as far as Pickering. Somewhere there was a 'north end,' but where the east was more north than east was never completely clarified.
This system rarely seemed to be followed to its logical conclusion, locating Queen and Spadina in the ‘south end,’ (or Ward's Island in the 'southmost end') which was probably just as well.
For a time, the Star was influenced by this, banning the mention of Scarborough in crime stories, although we have also freely referred to former towns in the 905, like Thornhill and Port Credit.
Public Editor Kathy English tackled the issue recently:
This policy is well-intentioned. But the reality is that the Star's newsroom has been inconsistent in applying the policy, leading to charges of unfairness from some Scarborough readers. Other readers are confused by the various ways in which Star writers try to locate crime in Toronto without referring to those historic geographic areas that, while officially dissolved, live on in the hearts and minds of many readers, and indeed, in institutional names like the "Scarborough Hospital."
… Does any ban on using those historic Toronto place names serve readers? If Toronto is indeed a city of neighbourhoods, should we aim to cite those more exact locations? Is Scarborough indeed "east Toronto?" Is Etobicoke "the west end?" While a map of Toronto indicates that, many long-time residents define east Toronto as the eastern reaches of the old City of Toronto. In their minds, east of that is indeed Scarborough.
For those who have forgotten where the six pre-amalgamation cities were, a map is here.
My own view, for what it’s worth, is that there is a limited relationship between communities and municipal governments. Brooklyn, for instance, hasn’t been a city in its own right for more than a century, but I have yet to hear of anybody referring to ‘New York’s mid-south end’. The idea that a recognizable area like East York can never be referred to, like Alsace and Lorraine after 1870 (‘Speak of it never – think of it always’) seems extreme, and doesn’t reflect the way residents think about their city.
But bringing back the pre-1998 cities for style purposes doesn’t solve the problem. The cities of Scarborough and Etobicoke were recognizable chunks of the map, but the borders of the former City of York (at left) were very eccentric. And the former City of Toronto poses its own problems – are we really supposed to spend the next twenty or thirty years referring to ‘the former City of Toronto’?
However, there is a third way – using the city’s rich tradition of neighbourhood names (Swansea, for example, or Agincourt) in a way that everyday urban culture recognizes.
With this in mind, feature writer Kenneth Kidd recently literally went back to the drawing board on the neighbourhood issue, carving up the city into 158 areas with a marker on an enormous laminated map. It’s in beta, and we’re posting an online version this week to find out what you think.
It’s in the nature of a map like this to be fluid and debated. Many trees could be killed, or electrons rearranged, over the Beach(es) alone: the Beach or the Beaches? And where is the northern boundary: Queen, Kingston Road, or as hopeful real estate agents would sometimes have it, the Danforth or points north?
So this week's map is to a large extent about the comment thread, particularly for those of you living in the 416. (A 905 map is planned.)
- If you live in the Toronto megacity, what do you call your neighbourhood?
- If you live in a shape on the map, does the name match the one you would use? If not, what name would you use?
- If you live in a part of the map not covered by a shape, what would you call your neighbourhood?