Walk Leader: HiMY SYeD
Text by: HiMY SYeD
When I first heard about the concept of a “Walk” as the Legacy Project in memory of Jane Jacobs, “Re-Tracing Stop Spadina” instantly popped into my mind.
Stop Spadina was the grassroots movement in Toronto opposing construction of a network of Expressways slated to carve up mid-and-downtown Toronto. “Spadina” was the working name of one Expressway already under construction. It had fierce neighbourhood level opposition, yet strong suburban support.
Shortly after arriving in Toronto, Jane Jacobs joined Stop Spadina. It became an epic city defining battle against a well funded Go Spadina Campaign. Yet they would eventually prevail, saving many walkable neighbourhoods. Thereafter, Jane was always associated with Stopping the Spadina Expressway.
During the inaugural year of Jane’s Walk, unlike in recent years, there was no formal nor even informal submission process for unsolicited walks. None of the organizers imagined anyone else would want to lead a walk. A bit of lobbying was in order. With that done, and walk eventually approved, I lead my first Jane’s Walk that first year.
We walked the length of what would have been the Spadina Expressway route had it been completed, weaving our way through parks, past landmarks, eventually arriving at 69 Albany Avenue, Jane Jacobs home address.
In Jane’s Walk second year, CBC Toronto Television documented Re-Tracing Stop Spadina for their evening news broadcast. Ironic was the fact the news crew drove their minivan along much of the route while filming. A route celebrating the lack of an expressway was itself driven and not walked!
Each year new facts and personal anecdotes from walk participants emerge. What began as an already lengthy walk of 3 hours plus change, grew to a 5 hour walk with so much more oral history added over the years.
To keep the walk manageable, it was split into two parts. The first half focused on Expressways, the second on Neighbourhoods.
Re-Tracing Stop Spadina has remained popular enough to be requested and recommended again and again. Consequently, I have lead the same walk each year, including a version of it while in San Francisco in May of 2013.