Articles tagged with: Phillip Mackintosh

  • New book chapter explores the historical micro-geography of liberal urbanism in Toronto’s Brunswick Avenue neighbourhood

    Book cover Book Micro-geographies of the Western City, c.1750–1900Dr. Phillip Mackintosh has published a new chapter in the book Micro-Geographies of the City, 1750-1900 titled “Liberalism underfoot: A micro-geography of street paving and social dissolution – Brunswick Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, 1898–99”.

    This chapter defines liberal urbanism in the context of Toronto’s paving problem and the universally unpopular local improvements by-law, devised to rehabilitate and ultimately capitalise the modern city. It focuses on the particular case of Brunswick Avenue and how Brunswickers’ perturbations of choice dismantled community good will. The four blocks of Brunswick Avenue between College and Bloor underwent two phases of pavement installation from 1880 to 1900. The first stretch, from College to Ulster, laid a cedar block roadway in 1882, which had an expiry date of 1892. Property owners tolerated their spent cedar roadway for four years and then purchased an asphalt surface in 1896, built by contractor David Chalmers in October 1896. Curiously given the snooty reputation of the homeowners in that section of Brunswick the same neighbourhood wanted only a plank sidewalk on the west side of their new asphalt pavement despite the city engineer recommending brick.

    Read the chapter and full book here.

    Citation:

    Phillip Gordon Mackintosh (2021) Liberalism Underfoot: Paving and Social Paradox—Brunswick Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, 1898. In Alida Clemente, Jon Stobbart & Dag Lindstrom eds, Micro-Geographies of the City, 1750-1900. Research in Historical Geography Series, London: Routledge.

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  • Build it and they will ride: Bicycle geography lessons for Toronto

    REPOSTED FROM THE CONVERSATION 
    December 17, 2018 | By Phillip Mackintosh

    To paraphrase urbanist James Howard Kunstler, Toronto city council is sleepwalking into the future. While 21st century Toronto’s shift to multi-modal transportation (public transit, automobiles, feet, bicycles, motor cycles, scooters, and skateboards, among others) is already under way, council stubbornly resists its formal implementation.

    We see the catastrophic results of city council’s inaction — negligence — every week. On Nov. 1, 2018, there were 16 vehicle/pedestrian collisions. This echoed another terrible 24-hour period in October of 2016, when 18 people were struck by motor vehicles. And still another in 2015, with 15 collisions in one day.

    Fatalities have risen from an average of 47 per year (2005-12) to 64 per year (2013-16), a consequence of the increase in people on automobilized streets. So far in 2018, 38 cyclists and pedestrians have died on Toronto streets.

    Part of the problem is that too many city councillors have repeatedly voted against bicyclists, bike lanes and multi-modality in general. One infamous and intractable (and now turfed) councillor said, “I do not believe bicycles should be on roads at all.” How odd. This is not what city councillors thought a century ago.

    An early attempt to envision multimodality, by the Toronto Civic Guild (Civic Guild Bulletin, Vol. 1 (June 1912): 10). Toronto Civic Guild, Author provided

    The ‘bicycle-friendly’ council

    At the beginning of the 20th century, Toronto city council embraced bicycles and their riders. City councillors worked with city engineers, bicycle clubs and the Canadian Wheelman’s Association (CWA) to pave streets with asphalt, organize cinder bicycle paths, pave and maintain the so-called “devil strips” (narrow strips of roadway between the opposite running streetcar tracks) and fix the interminable pot holes in the city’s ubiquitous cedar block roads. Council did this to encourage bicycling in a city where “tides of cyclists” used the streets. City councillors, many of whom were cyclists themselves, passed bylaws regulating cycling in 1895. These councillors appreciated that “the thousands of bicyclists of (the) city will hail with pleasure any move on part of the Council” to make the streets accessible to them.

    Why and how does the present city council not see the urban social geographic and economic utility of the bicycle? Likely because it needs a lesson in transportation geography — and it can’t get one soon enough. So here’s a simple, introductory concept: Build it and they will come.

    Traffic generation

    In 1900, Scribner’s magazine published a typically dry civil engineering piece by William Barclay Parsons, the chief engineer of the New York Rapid Transit Commission. In the article, Parsons imparted this transportation planning gem:

    “Whenever a new line has been built in New York, although the first effect may have been — but not always — to draw traffic from a parallel and near-by road, such withdrawal has been but temporary; and in a short time the natural growth of the city, stimulated by the new means of transportation offered, has been sufficient to provide requisite traffic for the new line and increased traffic for the old ones.”

    In other words, each time Parsons built a new subway line, he generated traffic on all the lines.

    This observation was not exclusive to Parsons. In his well-thumbed “Street Pavements and Paving Materials: A Manual of City Pavements” — also published in 1900 — Canadian road engineer George Tillson made a similar contention. Writing about the practices and problems of road paving, he insisted that:

    “It must be remembered that when any one road is selected to be made into a thoroughfare, traffic will be immediately diverted to it and the wear of the pavement abnormally increased.”

    For Tillson, the principle was: Pave it and they will come.

    American road-builder Robert Moses learned these same lessons through his automobility experiments in mid-20th century New York. He intuited that what Parsons was really talking about was traffic generation: the idea that a public transit line or, in his case, a highway, is constructed to increase traffic volume.

    Every time Moses built a road or bridge, traffic invariably choked it, and he would have to build another. This was intentional and he admitted it. As he said:

    “We wouldn’t have any American economy without the automobile business. That’s literally true… this is a great industry that has to go on, and has to keep on turning out cars and trucks and buses, and there have to be places for them to run. There have to be modern roads, modern arteries. Somebody’s got to build them …”

    So Moses and his road-building acolytes did, creating the automobile economy in the process.

    The transportation geography principle that Toronto Council must learn is this: build public transit and you will increase the demand for public transit routes and increase ridership. A public transit culture and economy will follow.

    Choose instead to build roads, and the principle remains the same: you will increase the demand for roads, and increase drivers and driving culture, resulting in an automobile economy.

    It works for bicycles, too…

    A cyclist rides past as workers lay down streetcar tracks at the Toronto intersection of Broadview and Queen. June 12, 1918. Arthur Goss/flickr, CC BY

    As Toronto undertook the arduous and contentious process of paving its streets with asphalt in the 1890s, the bicycle population swelled. The CWA estimated…

    Continue reading on The Conversation.

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  • Phillip Mackintosh nominated for Heritage Toronto award

    BY JEANNIE MACKINTOSH

     

    Phil Mackintosh in a library

    Newspaper City: Toronto’s Street Surfaces and the Liberal Press, 1860-1935 by Associate Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies Phillip Mackintosh is nominated for the 2018 Historical Writing award from Heritage Toronto.

    Associate Professor Phillip Gordon Mackintosh’s Newspaper City: Toronto’s Street Surfaces and the Liberal Press, 1860-1935 is nominated for the 2018 Historical Writing award from Heritage Toronto.

    This nomination “recognizes the importance of the history of Toronto’s streets, especially at a time of rampant condo development,” says Mackintosh, of Brock’s Department of Geography and Tourism Studies.

    Mackintosh says he “would love suburban politicians to read it to get some historical context for the continuing problems of automobilism on Toronto streets.” The “Fatal City” chapter, which he says was “horrific to write,” looks at Toronto’s engagement with the car and its catastrophic consequences for the city’s children. “The legacy of municipal inaction regarding pedestrian and cyclist safety reflects in the deaths we’re seeing now,” he says.

    Newspaper City, in part, tells the story of how the editors of Toronto’s liberal newspapers campaigned to pave the streets in an effort to modernize the city. But property owners by and large resisted the city’s mania for asphalt, intuiting that speeded-up streets would harm their children.

    On another level, the book reveals the challenges inherent in using newspapers as primary sources in historical research. After all, newspapers at the turn of the last century, like those of today, had agendas of their own. In Newspaper City, Mackintosh cautions that researchers must be alert to historical newspapers’ inherent but inconspicuous flaws.

    The Heritage Toronto Awards celebrate extraordinary contributions to the conservation and promotion of Toronto’s heritage. The 2018 Historical Writing award, which recognizes English language works of non-fiction, will be presented on October 29.

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  • Phillip Mackintosh’s Newspaper City nominated for Heritage Toronto award

    2017 - Mackintosh research - Newspaper City cover Phillip Mackintosh’s Newspaper City: Toronto’s Street Surfaces and the Liberal Press, 1860-1935 has been nominated for a Heritage Toronto book award for Historical Writing.

    Newspaper City tells the story of how the Toronto Globe and Toronto Daily Star campaigned for surface infrastructure improvements as liberal editors saw this as the leading expression of modern urbanity. This book traces the opinions expressed in news articles over 75 years to understand the conflict between newspaper editors and property owners who resisted paying for infrastructure improvements.

    Winners will be announced at the 2018 Heritage Toronto Awards Ceremony on Monday, October 29, 2018.

     

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  • MACKINTOSH: Death by street – Toronto’s ongoing problems with the automobile

    Bicycle road sign. Photo by Andrew Gook/Unsplash

    Banning cars is one way to ensure pedestrian and cyclist safety on city streets. Andrew Gook/ Unsplash

    Phillip Gordon Mackintosh, Associate Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies at Brock, wrote a piece recently published in The Conversation about pedestrian and cyclist deaths and injuries in Toronto’s busy streets.

    Mackintosh writes:

    It seems every day, another pedestrian or cyclist is injured or killed in Toronto. In this respect the city is living a historical déjà vu: interwar Toronto (1919-1939) witnessed similar numbers of walkers and bikers — especially children — dying on its streets by the same cause: Automobiles.

    Yet, like their earlier cousins, today’s Torontonians hear the same platitudes voiced by police and community leaders: Cyclists and pedestrians must actively defend their own self-interests. In other words, cyclists and pedestrians must ultimately construct ways to protect themselves — by themselves — on thoroughfares full of dangerous motor vehicles.

    How odd that in 2018 the best Toronto’s policymakers and enforcers can do is to rehash a century-old idea that in practice failed catastrophically in the past? Historical fatalities involving children give us a glimpse into Toronto’s remarkably unimaginative approach to the street.

    Toronto’s leaders alone created this intolerable street-policy circumstance. Their virtual indenture to the car since the 1910s effectively renders them policy-impotent.

    Continue reading the full article here.

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  • Policy-makers tune out Toronto’s human roadkill

    From The Toronto Star
    Sunday, July 29, 2018

    By PHILLIP GORDON MACKINTOSH
    Opinion

    To read relentless news of pedestrian and cyclist deaths and injuries in Toronto is to relive the city’s early 20th century past.

    We see the same cause of the tragedy (motor vehicles), hear the same heartfelt condolences, and note the same bromide from constable, politician or lobbyist: cyclists and pedestrians must attend vigorously to their self-interest on hazardous streets.

    Crossings at Maclennan Ave. were labelled death traps when this picture was taken in 1937. Traffic officers were stationed at the bottom and top of the hill to make sure schoolchildren crossed — or dashed across — safely.Crossings at Maclennan Ave. were labelled death traps when this picture was taken in 1937. Traffic officers were stationed at the bottom and top of the hill to make sure schoolchildren crossed — or dashed across — safely. (EI SCAN)

    It never occurs to anyone that such platitudes have been rehearsed by civic leaders for over a century.

    To be fair, they have no other words. Automobilization in Toronto since the 1910s has rendered the city’s community leaders virtually speechless. Why? Because there is only one — impossible — public policy to effect pedestrian and cyclist safety on streets dominated by motor vehicles: automobile prohibition. With prohibition as a workable policy left permanently “off the table,” what else can our leaders say?

    Torontonians have long felt the threat posed by automobilization, watching the slaughter on roadways and sidewalks. A century ago, children died by the dozens at the wheels of motorists (90 were killed between 1919 and 1921).

    The pedestrian and cyclist carnage continued through the 1920s and 1930s. Children especially were imperiled. City newspapers gruesomely described how motor vehicles flayed, crushed and dragged children to death.

    It wasn’t always thus. Before the First World War, street traffic consisted primarily of walkers, slow-moving streetcars and horse traffic. Yet, by the end of the war, as motor vehicle ownership increased, collision statistics had risen precipitously.

    Drivers ran through intersections, failed to yield to streetcars and riders, jumped curbs, drove on both sides of the road and cut off or bumped cyclists. Importantly, pedestrians could not yet accurately assess the time and space compression of fast-moving cars, or the emerging danger of an automobilizing environment.

    Throughout the 1920s, the city’s irresistible opportunities for work attracted migrants, further swelling the numbers of pedestrians on the streets. Alas, pedestrian populations and automobile ownership ballooned simultaneously, neither constrained by countervailing public policy.

    Compounding the situation, the automobile was seen as an excellent “vehicle” (as it were) for economic prosperity, enlivening the urban imaginations of Toronto’s politicians and business people.

    Newspapers promoted it as the “perfect machine” and “the chariot of prosperity.” The car “had achieved its rightful prerogative over all other methods of transportation.” Such hyperbole propelled the automobile into an actual, lethal conflict with traditional street users, including carefree children on their ancestral playground.

    So, what did policy-makers do to stop cars from killing children on the streets? Nothing, despite deputations to City Council by the Toronto Playground Association in 1920, and a 1928 motion by Alderman Pearce to ban automobiles from streets where children played. In every year between 1927 and 1934, dozens of toddlers died horribly in the streets.

    The closest that leaders came to policy was encouraging drivers to be careful, and admonishing pedestrians that “The Game of Walking Has Been Speeded Up.” This meant persuading children (including preschoolers who simply strayed onto streets chasing butterflies, blowing whistles or pushing doll prams) of “the necessity of guarding against accidents by abstaining from contributory negligence,” as the Ontario Safety League put it.

    This is why we look both ways before crossing the road — a solitary “policy” legacy of a history that systemically privileged automobiles above pedestrians and cyclists in the urban hierarchy.

    Closely connected to looking “up and down before crossing the road” is an official predilection to blame pedestrians, cyclists and children for the horrors that befall them. To blame automobiles would be to confront them in policy. That won’t happen.

    Call this what it is: political negligence. Any pedestrian or cyclist can tell you how to save lives in Toronto. Put severe restrictions on automobile use in pedestrian- and bicycle-heavy city neighbourhoods. This won’t happen, either.

    A century ago, Toronto wouldn’t enact policy to prevent “the needless mangling of little ones,” those innocent “little tots of the streets” who died by the hundreds. Don’t expect policy-makers in 2018 to protect our adult bicyclists and pedestrians, equally precious, yet regarded by many as wilful and intrusive nuisances.

    Phillip Gordon Mackintosh is associate professor of Geography at Brock University, and author of Newspaper City: Toronto’s Street Surfaces and the Liberal Press, 1860-1935.

    Article reposted from The Toronto Star.

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  • Congratulations to Adam Fischer on the successful completion of his MA in Geography thesis

    Adam Fischer successfully defended his MA in Geography thesis. Pictured here (L to R): David Butz (GPD); Phillip Mackintsoh (sumervisor); Adam Fischer; Chris Fullerton (committee member); and Alan Walks (external examiner)

    Pictured from left to right: Dr. David Butz (Graduate Program Director); Dr. Phillip Mackintosh (supervisor); Adam Fischer; Dr. Chris Fullerton (committee member); and Dr. Alan Walks (external examiner, University of Toronto).

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies would like to extend congratulations to Adam Fischer and his committee for the successful defense of his Master of Arts in Geography thesis entitled ‘A Domestic Geography of Money: How Mortgage Debt, Home Prices and Toronto’s Condominiums “Prop Up” the Canadian Economy’.

    Adam’s research was supervised by Dr. Phillip Mackintosh, and committee members, Dr. Jeffrey Boggs and Dr. Christopher Fullerton. Many thanks to External Examiner, Dr. Alan Walks (Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto).

    We wish Adam all the best for his future endeavours!

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  • MA in Geography thesis defence scheduled for July 24: “A Domestic Geography of Money” by Adam Fischer

    Adam Fischer will defend his MA thesis titled “A Domestic Geography of Money: How Mortgage Debt, Home Prices, and Toronto’s Condominiums “Prop up” the Canadian Economy” on July 24, 2018 from 12:00pm to 2:00pm. The defense will take place in MC C-407 and is open to the public.

    Adam Fisher’s Examining Committee includes Dr. Alan Walks from the University of Toronto (External), Dr. Philip Mackintosh (Supervisor), Dr. Jeffrey Boggs (Committee Member), and Dr. Christopher Fullerton (Committee Member).

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  • Brock prof’s book explores how cities were built for hurry

    Architectures of Hurry — Mobilities, Cities and Modernity is a collection of 12 historical essays co-edited by Brock Associate Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies Phillip Gordon Mackintosh.
    Story from The Brock News
    June 25, 2018

    Hurry up and wait. It’s a way of life in society today.

    We weave in and out of traffic, sprint toward closing subway doors and run up and down escalators, but in the end we usually end up at a bottleneck being forced to do what we were trying to avoid: wait.

    This is the central insight of Architectures of Hurry — Mobilities, Cities and Modernity, a collection of 12 historical essays co-edited by Brock Associate Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies Phillip Gordon Mackintosh.

    The book examines the development of transportation modes and infrastructure as facilitators of hurry — as opposed to speed — in cities across the world, including London, Beijing, Buenos Aires, Toronto and Montreal, throughout the 1800s and 1900s.

    The goal of this development was not only to increase the range, scope and speed of travel, but also to abet the modern urge to hurry, which often results in the opposite of hurry.

    The various essays explore the evolution of transportation from horse and buggy to bicycles, automobiles, buses and subways, as well as the development of infrastructure such as street layouts, surfaces, rail routes and buildings to support new modes of mobility in a hurrying world.

    There have been some unexpected innovations that helped facilitate travel. For example, one of the essays looks at the creation of a hotel industry in 19th century Montreal.

    “This enables people to find home anywhere,” says Mackintosh. “You can now hurry around the world and find temporary shelter in any city. But this also means you’re waiting, often frustrated, in lines to check-in or check-out of hotels or airports, dropping off or collecting luggage, waiting for transport or transit.”

    Another essay discusses the rapid appearance and disappearance of business exchanges in Lower Manhattan during the late 1800s.

    “The buildings themselves live according to what geographers talk about as ‘geographical mobility,’” says Mackintosh. “We forget that many buildings have short lifespans, that the solidity of bricks and mortar can be fleeting. The only certainty is the land they sit on. Some buildings come into and slip out of existence with such remarkable ease, we can think of them as having a similar mobility as their occupants.”

    Weaving the essays together is the central theme of hurry, perhaps the motivator of speed and efficiency. It reflects — and perhaps incites — our “pursuit of quality of life, convenience, comfort, power, security, consumption and accumulation,” says the book’s closing essay.

    “We distinguish between speed and hurry,” Mackintosh says. “Speed is likely the implementation of hurry, which may well be instinctual, but is certainly part of the human geographical imagination.”

    Mackintosh says the ‘hurry’ impulse that propelled cities’ interest in infrastructure development is still with us today. He says it’s fascinating that what we call “traffic generation” and “traffic volume” are measurable consequences of hurry.

    “In North America, we knew over a century ago how to generate traffic. We chose to generate it with cars, but we could have just as easily generated it with public transit systems. For reasons good and bad, we didn’t,” he says.

    This is probably because we don’t give enough thought to hurry.

    “Everybody hurries, yet we rarely consider why beyond our immediate instrumental concerns. Part of our desire to hurry grounds to the urban capitalist imperative, but hurry isn’t modern. Hunter-gatherers hurried, so did early seed-sowers and classical Romans. Hurry predates capitalism and modern cities,” says Mackintosh.

    We train ourselves to privilege our own hurry above others’. The result, he says, is that people caught up in traffic jams or line-ups become anxious and take out their frustrations on each other through road rage, swearing or other anti-social behaviours, increasing stress levels all around.

    The phrase “Architectures of Hurry” comes from E.M. Forster’s 1910 novel Howard’s End, and was the inspiration for Architectures of Hurry — Mobilities, Cities and Modernity.

    At one point in Howard’s End, the character Margaret Schlegel calls the modernizing London street, in the new automobile age, an ‘architecture of hurry.’ She worries that the only point of urban life is the accommodation of hurry.

    Following their “Architectures of Hurry” conference sessions at the Royal Geographical Society in 2015, Mackintosh and co-editors Richard Dennis, Emeritus Professor of Geography at University College London, and Deryck Holdsworth, Emeritus Professor of Geography at Pennsylvania State University, were approached by an editor from Routledge Publishing who thought that a collection of essays exploring ‘hurry’ would make a good book. The 247-page volume is now available in the James A. Gibson Library.

    Story from The Brock News
    June 25, 2018

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  • New book “Architectures of Hurry—Mobilities, Cities and Modernity” edited by Geography and Tourism Studies professor

    Architectures of Hurry—Mobilities, Cities and Modernity

    By: Phillip Gordon Mackintosh (Brock Geography and Tourism Studies), Richard Dennis, Deryck W. Holdsworth

    Front Cover‘Hurry’ is an intrinsic component of modernity. It exists not only in tandem with modern constructions of mobility, speed, rhythm, and time-space compression, but also with infrastructures, technologies, practices, and emotions associated with the experience of the ‘mobilizing modern’. ‘Hurry’ is not simply speed. It may result in congestion, slowing-down or inaction in the face of over-stimulus. Speeding-up is often competitive: faster traffic on better roads made it harder for pedestrians to cross, or for horse-drawn vehicles and cyclists to share the carriageway with motorised vehicles. Focussing on the cultural and material manifestations of ‘hurry’, the book’s contributors analyse the complexities, tensions and contradictions inherent in the impulse to higher rates of circulation in modernizing cities.

    The collection includes but also goes beyond accounts of new forms of mobility (bicycles, buses, underground trains) and infrastructure (street layouts and surfaces, business exchanges, and hotels) to show how modernity’s ‘architectures of hurry’ have been experienced, represented, and practised since the mid-nineteenth century. Ten case studies explore different expressions of ‘hurry’ across cities and urban regions in Asia, Europe, and North and South America, while substantial introductory and concluding chapters situate ‘hurry’ in the wider context of modernity and mobility studies and reflect on the future of ‘hurry’ in an ever-accelerating world.

    This diverse collection will be relevant to researchers, scholars and practitioners in the fields of planning, cultural and historical geography, urban history and urban sociology.

    Read more.

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