Mayors share reflections on Jane Jacobs’ Toronto

CCE encourages density

On the occasion of the release of the 50th Anniversary edition of Jacobs’ classic book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the Centre for City Ecology hosted four of Toronto’s past Mayors to hear their reflections on the impact of Jane Jacobs on our city: Jane Jacobs’ Toronto. Moderated by Steve Paikin, the event brought together David Crombie, [Mayor of Toronto, 1972–1978], John Sewell [Mayor of Toronto, 1978–1980], Art Eggleton [Mayor of Toronto, 1980–1991], and Barbara Hall [Mayor of Toronto, 1994–1997] to share their reflections on Jane’s life and work in Toronto.

Jane Jacobs arrived in Toronto in 1968 and lived here until her death in 2006. These four Mayors knew Jacobs personally. They discussed the impact of her work on the city and her influence on their leadership of it.


What Would Jane Do?Torontoist:

While each mayor talked in turn about how Jacobs would be pleased with the social and cultural diversity of Toronto today, they also spoke about the discord between suburban residents and those that reside in the denser environs of the old city of Toronto. David Crombie was particularly forceful when enjoined downtowners to listen to those in the suburbs, and to share ideas with them. “We keep assuming that if they would be like us, life would be better,” he said. Barbara Hall agreed, saying that we need to talk to those that don’t share our views. She asked the audience to raise their hands if they were from the old city of Toronto. About three quarters of the room did so.

…One can’t help wonder what would happen if Jane Jacobs were alive in today’s Toronto, and how she would approach our current political state. But we don’t have Jacobs here to stand up for us anymore. As David Crombie said, “Nobody else is going to do it. We’ve got to do it.”


CCE would like to thank Camden Media Productions for producing the “CCE Presents Jane Jacobs’ Toronto” video. We would also like to thank attendee Himy Syed for publishing his videos of the entire event.

Videos from Camden Media Productions

Videos from Himy Syed


CCE is grateful to our partners in this event for making it possible:

  • Former Mayors David Crombie, John Sewell, Art Eggleton, and Barbara Hall, for coming together to discuss Jane’s impact on this city and their governance of it,
  • Steve Paikin from TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin for moderating the conversation between the Mayors,
  • the University of Toronto’s Cities Centre who partnered with us to move this event to OISE‘s Auditorium, increasing the seats available from 110 to 500,
  • Camden Media Productions for offering pro bono video work, which will be available on this website within the next few weeks,
  • Swipe Books who will be selling copies of the newly released 50th anniversary edition of Jane’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities and a new edition ofIdeas That Matter,
  • our many volunteers who help everything to run smoothly,
  • and the 500 of you who snapped up all of the tickets in record time!

We count ourselves fortunate to be operating in a city with such passionate, engaged, and talented citizens. Thank you!