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Toronto is a city that operates at the scale of automobiles and subways. Its environments are many and varied— layers of infrastructure, geography, and history create a heterogeneous mix of urban fabric. The Spadina Subway Line is one of the primary routes of navigating this mix. It extends from the heart of downtown northwest to the edge of Toronto and into the neighbouring City of Vaughan. With no single street to follow the Spadina Line winds through a fragmentary collage. On the surface the pieces have little relation to each other—a collection of urban fabrics forcibly connected by the subway. This thesis is a performance. It performs a walk, a transect, along the above ground line of the subway. This walk builds off the previous generations of theoretical walkers— the saunterers of Henry Thoreau, the flâneurs of Charles Baudelaire, the surrealists of André Breton, the Situationists of Guy Debord—and Lee Freidlander’s eye for the cluttered city to synthesize the perspective of the transient observer. A solitary figure that seeks out urban forms and artifacts to discover the layers of intentionality, the coincidences and contradictions that coalesce into the messy city—a city that is fragmentary, haphazard, uncurated. Documentation of the walk is done through mapping and photography. Mapping describe the lands of the Spadina Line holistically and create a picture of how the Line interacts with the wider city. Photographs describe the experience of the walk itself. This is an exploration of the present, of singular moments—the moments of encounter between a transient observer and a new urban form—that implies both history and future. Through act of walking and documentation—the moments and the maps—a narrative is found within the fragments of the Spadina Subway Line. It is a narrative of competing visions and failed ideal cities—a narrative of a great urban laboratory with decades of experiments in urbanity.
Cite this version of the work
Terry Huang (2018). Chasing Spadina. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/13766