Biography of A CityBook - 2014
"Bloody amazing, brings Toronto alive as never before. Hogtown is dead. A shining metropolis lives." -- Peter C. Newman
In the last sixty years, Toronto has been transformed from a provincial town to significant urban heavyweight. Few cities have experienced such sustained growth, and the packed streets of North America's fourth-largest city are a far cry from the origins of the city as "Little York," which was comprised of the lieutenant-governor's muddy tent --which he shared with his wife and many children -- and some barracks. Between then and now, fervent Orangemen have imposed strict morals on the growing provincial town, and an influx of immigrants changed the face of the city.
Allan Levine delves into the character of a city that strives to balance urban development with the preservation of its distinct neighbourhoods, to maintain its status without losing its individuality. Its inhabitants have fought tooth and nail to prevent an expressway being built to the downtown core, have called in the army to clear the city of snow after a blizzard and consistently pack the Maple Leafs' arena every game, win or lose, making the hockey team the most valuable franchise in the NHL. The city can also claim one of the first Canadian politicians to stand up for gay rights, a store owner who almost single-handedly preserved theatre in Toronto, and then there's Mayor Rob Ford...
With the same eye for character, anecdote and circumstance that made Peter Ackroyd's London and Colin Jones's Paris so successful, Levine's captivating prose integrates the sights, sounds and feel of Toronto with a broad historical perspective, linking the city's present with its past through themes such as politics, transportation, public health, ethnic diversity and sports. Toronto invites readers to discover the city's lively spirit over four centuries and to wander purposefully through the city's many unique neighbourhoods, where they can encounter the striking and peculiar characters who have inhabited them: the powerful and powerless, the entrepreneurs and the entertainers, and the moral and the corrupt, all of whom have contributed to Toronto's collective identity.