We can think of Long Branch as a lost beach resort area, with turrets, verandas, and porches

The following notes are from David Switzer, who’s pointed out the distinction between a Jane’s Walk  — such as in Long Branch on May 6, 2012 — and a heritage walk.

These notes are derived from what David Switzer recalls from Jane Jacobs’ books and related sources:

Long Branch was once a beach resort for Torontonians who came by boat.

The community evolved since its ‘cottage country’ days but some of the beach resort feel still remains in some of the older cottages and houses with verandas and turrets.

Picture a village of turrets, varandas, and porches

“We can think of Long Branch as a lost beach resort area, with turrets, verandas, and porches,” says David Switzer. “Here you still have buildings that look like there’s sand in front of them, not lawns.”

There was some industry on the north side of Lake Shore Blvd West. At an earlier time it may have been considered a village.

It had a single main street that contained: a theatre, bowling alley, grocery store, doctors, drug store, a Woolworth’s, barber shop, churches.

Long Branch had all that was necessary to live without leaving the community except for the external trips that most villagers take to destinations such as a hospital, to a big-city play, museum, or professional sports events.

There was adequate transportation for these trips but most were done by car. The industry provided some jobs and others were close by.

Urban, Suburban, and Tweeny

Now Long Branch is located between two fully developed cities of Toronto and Mississauga. It has become what Jacobs would call a ‘Tweeny,’ neither Urban or Suburban in the descriptions that Jane Jacobs developed.

Suburbs offer large 70 by130-foot lots with private space and privacy. Recreation facility and shopping malls are a short drive away. You have miles and miles of neighbours mostly homogenous and few strangers passing through.

An Urban setting, in this formulation, has high density with — a wide range of old and new dwellings, high and low rise. The population is widely diverse and neighbourhoods tend to be a matter of a few blocks. There are lots of facilities and leaving your immediate area for any of life’s necessities except for work is rare.

A Tweeny suburb like Long Branch has a little of the advantages or disadvantage depending on what you value in your lifestyle of both suburban and urban, explains David.

David also notes that some of Jane Jacobs’ ideas may be outmoded or just plain wrong, and that there are newer theorists whose views also count.

In our walk we’re not presenting her views as urban gospel. Rather, they serve as a starting point for enjoyable discussion, debate, and exploration.

And of course, some of her insights have indeed taken hold, and appear very helpful when we look at any urban environment.


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