Jane’s Walk

Friday, May 4th will be Jane Jacobs’ birthday, and in her honour on Saturday, May 5th there will be many walks around neighbourhoods in the city.  You can read all the details at the event’s website.

In 2005, I received the Jane Jacobs Prize in recognition of decades of work as a transit advocate in Toronto, especially for my part in saving the streetcar system and urging that Toronto make better use of this mode of transport.  It took a long time, but with Transit City there’s some hope we may see an LRT network in the suburbs.  Better late than never.

Jane’s Walk arose from the combined desire of the prizewinners to do something in Jane’s memory, something that would be informal, that would not turn into a nightmare of publicity and organization, something that people could all do in their own way.  Her love of neighbourhoods and of observing the city around us made the choice obvious — walks through neighbourhoods conducted by people who know and love them.

When we started talking about this, I was asked about a “walk” (well, a ride) of the streetcar system.  This brings serious problems both because it’s impossible to visit all the places I would go in only 90 minutes, and the last thing the TTC needs is a crowd of people showing up at random locations all trying to pile into the Saturday afternoon service.  I spend enough time griping about service quality, and would never live it down if the TTC could trace a string of delays to my tour group.  Chartering a streetcar is expensive, almost verges on the territory of “formal tour”, and has the tiny problem that you can’t visit places the streetcars don’t run any more.

My contribution to Jane’s Walk will be a series of pieces here suggesting places you might like to visit in a trip around the city that are mostly related to the streetcar system.  I don’t know yet how many there will be, and some may be written after May 5th has come and gone.  The advantage of a self-conducted tour is that you can do it any time!  Originally, I had thought of linking my writing to the actual walks planned by others, but the way they are shaping up we would miss parts of the city completely.

All of these will be filed here under the topic “Jane’s Walk” and you will be able to pull them up at any time from the menu in the sidebar.