The industrial era helped the city develop into what it is today, but times have changed. The metro no longer highlights its role in manufacturing, which left several abandoned buildings. A query about what we should do with these infrastructures is a big question to the people, the government and urban planners. Should these buildings be left alone in the city and commemorate their contribution, or should they be transformed into something timely that caters to what the people need?
A review by Arthur Row for the Yale Law Journal with Jane Jacobs book: The Death and Life of Great American Cities focus on rebuilding cities and how Jacobs’ worry about the people if they are safe or not due to projects. She believes such projects destroy communities; she loves that the legal sectors are tearing down that people who own private properties in that area are dispossessed. As I have mentioned before, manufacturing jobs are no longer in the metro, which used to be the driving activity of people who lived or migrated to metropolitan areas. However, with it moving, it changes the spatial relationships that are present. The infrastructures we see in the city are not just buildings; planners strategically place them with how it works in certain areas.
Even during industrialization, homelessness was a problem in metropolitan cities when a surge of people during the boom in manufacturing, production and transportation jobs. People were self-sufficient, and families helped each other fend for themselves in the rural areas, which the Ministry of Ontario highlights. Moreover, people moved out of large cities due to manufacturing jobs leaving metro areas; there is a concentration of highly skilled people in the service industry: legal, technology and others. With that, we see several abandoned infrastructures in the city of Toronto; Linseed Factory was an oil factory that produced oil paints, linoleum, wood finisher, canvas bags, table-cloths etc. This abandoned factory is a reminder to the city of its industrial past; it took years for the city to take action on how the infrastructure still aids the people of Toronto.
Moreover, in the year 2000, after the factory closed down in 1960. The city purchased the land for $2 million that the city plans to build a recreational centre for the community of Wabash and, which the City of Toronto disclosed. The community recreational centre promised to support equitable access for the people from all grounds of life and create a sense of belonging with no barriers. With all the changes that will happen, it will still keep and restore some of its facades for heritage preservation. If Jane Jacobs is alive right now, she would be happy to see how such spaces transform into something that the people need while keeping old structures and use them as a framework.
Richard Langley wrote an article: Toronto’s new industrial revolution: why old buildings need new ideas used Jane Jacobs as an example of why the city should use old buildings from the industrial period as a foundation for the new services offered by the metro. The author used a quote from The Death and Life of Great American Cities that states how new ideas there is no time for trial and error in a fast-paced economy and how old buildings can use new ideas while new ideas must use old buildings. It highlights how this idea came about because of the real estate crisis. The 401 Richmond is a focus as an example of how the city can use old buildings as a new form to showcase something different than its original purpose. With that, we can now how the 401 filled with with galleries and creative business. However, before the city understood how they can still use old industrial buildings for new ideas with how times are changing Toronto, experience the value of properties drop. The metro demolished multiple heritage industrial buildings because they saw them as useless since it is past their industrial period.
Furthermore, despite Toronto removing heritage buildings that zoned the downtown area before, the metro can rebuild into what the city uses for its commercial areas in the King-Spadina and King-Parliament, which Langley also mentions in his article. The 401 Richmond houses many of the creative industry that the metro wants to push out of the downtown area to maintain its property value. The metro has come a long way from wanting to tear down buildings to accepting the architecture and how they can be a way to attract investors to come into the city. With all that, there are still more industrial buildings that are worth saving, and there is indeed a way to incorporate outdated infrastructures into the lifestyle of urban neighbourhoods.
“Dull, inert cities, it is true, do contain the seeds of their own destruction and little else. But lively, diverse, intense cities contain the seeds of their own regeneration, with energy enough to carry over for problems and needs outside themselves.” — Jane Jacobs