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Toronto and the Rust Belt/Manufacturing Belt

King of Kensington

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"Rust belt" is seen by some as a pejorative - so pretty much every city that's not as rusty as Youngstown, Ohio and has had a post-industrial transition will say it's "not rust belt." So the historic Manufacturing Belt is perhaps a better term.

Is Toronto part of this region? It's hard to argue that Hamilton and Niagara aren't.

In some ways, Chicago and Toronto are the two global cities on the Great Lakes and on the edges of the region. Chicago does seem more Rust Belt than Toronto though. Although Chicago's downtown and lakefront feel a world away, it's hard to deny Chicago's "rust belt" status if you've driven through NW Indiana and the South Side, or know its history as the "city of big shoulders" etc.

Seen some past photos where Toronto did look rather Cleveland-like but I think Toronto was always more commercial and less based on heavy industry.
 
"Rust belt" is seen by some as a pejorative - so pretty much every city that's not as rusty as Youngstown, Ohio and has had a post-industrial transition will say it's "not rust belt." So the historic Manufacturing Belt is perhaps a better term.

Is Toronto part of this region? It's hard to argue that Hamilton and Niagara aren't.

In some ways, Chicago and Toronto are the two global cities on the Great Lakes and on the edges of the region. Chicago does seem more Rust Belt than Toronto though. Although Chicago's downtown and lakefront feel a world away, it's hard to deny Chicago's "rust belt" status if you've driven through NW Indiana and the South Side, or know its history as the "city of big shoulders" etc.

Seen some past photos where Toronto did look rather Cleveland-like but I think Toronto was always more commercial and less based on heavy industry.

We are, but our core went post-industrial (just look at our inner city industrial areas - King-Spadina, West Don Lands, Liberty Village, the waterfront/Portlands) and got reused? Parts of the region/southern Ontario certainly does (just think GM in Oshawa, etc).

I think our regional experience might be more similar to NYC than say Buffalo or Cleveland precisely because of the strength of the tertiary sector.

AoD
 
In it, not of it?

In essence yes. And I think Hamilton and Oshawa both lucked out because it is so close to Toronto and can be retooled as bedroom community+ (+, because they can also serve as a hotbed for the creative industries) for a region with a rapidly rising population - despite the death of their traditional industries, which would have led to a falling population otherwise. They would hate to admit that, of course.

AoD
 
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Niagara is pretty rust-belt. It is helped by tourism and retirement industry and proximity to Toronto. There is some rebounding in industrial activity there as well.
 
I think the term 'rust belt' as it is most commonly used, tends to refer to:

1) Cities that were heavily into manufacturing/heavy industry
2) Where those same Cities went through a process of de-industrialization
3) And where the above did so in a manner consistent with economic decline/stagnation, often with a fall-off in population, and many areas of brownfields or decayed ruins.

While Toronto was certainly a heavy-industry city at one point, with Massey-Ferguson, but also both Ford and GM had factories here (Ford was Shopper's World at Victoria Park and Danforth before it decamped to Oakville,
while GM had a van plant in the Golden Mile); it also featured some steel making, extensive oil tank farms and Inglis (who made appliances), amongst many others.

But where Buffalo, Rochester, Cleveland, Detroit and others saw massive declines in employment and large swathes of abandoned land; Toronto really never experienced this at any material scale or for any length of time.

Go back as far the 50's and the Ford (later Nash Motors) plant closed, it moved into being a Shopping Centre almost immediately.

The Massey Harris Site was dead for a short while before Liberty Village came about..............but not all that long.
Liberty Village didn't really start to fully de-industrialize until 1991 (closure of Carpet Factory and Inglis)
The first major condo complex by Monarch, "Battery Park" opened in 2006.
So I'm assuming construction was underway by 2004'ish?? (not sure on that one)
That gap is only a bit over a decade before the area reemerged.

Various other sites also found new uses fairly quickly.

By contrast Detroit suffered terribly, and its former Packard Factory stood rotting for more than 3 generations.


Buffalo saw the collapse of Bethlehem Steel, which was its largest employer, I believe (10,000 layoffs in 1982)


So Toronto is not a neat fit with most of the 'rust belt'.
 
Is Chicago rust belt? It was always the "big city" of the Midwest and benefitted from that stature - continued to receive decent numbers of immigrants, had a pretty diverse economy etc. Of course downtown/North Side and the South and West Sides are worlds apart.
 
One thing which comes up with the idea of a Canadian rust-belt is that many of the business' here had a slower wind up, and they also had stronger union and retirement plan protections. ManyUS rust belt cities that had big problems when large employers shut down saw people kicked on to a meagre severance plan, little to no unemployment insurance payments, and those of retirement age saw their promised pension payments vapourise because it turned out the employer never actually funded the pension plan in the first place. Here in Canada that has rarely happened, though there are a handful of examples.

When talking about the depopulation of some US cities there was also a racial component to throw in there that can't be hand-waived off. Many cities were depopulated not by people moving per se, but because they were carved up politically into new. white (suburban) cities which were extracted out of the black (urban) areas and any financial obligations to support shared services, the legacy of which is still in impacting things today.
 
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Absolutely. The border is real. And the Great Migration was central to the experience of the US Rust Belt. Also - Canadians can't just move to Arizona or Florida.
 
When talking about the depopulation of some US cities there was also a racial component to throw in there that can't be hand-waived off. Many cities were depopulated not by people moving per se, but because they were carved up politically into new. white (suburban) cities which were extracted out of the black (urban) areas and any financial obligations to support shared services, the legacy of which is still in impacting things today.

Agree w/the jist of this entirely.

But want to add...........I'm not sure how many cities were literally carved up, as much as new ones created at periphery (former farmland)....which became white, well-off, suburbs.

I am curious if you're familiar w/any literally divided cities.........vs the flight to suburbia model.

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Of note, Buffalo and Detroit are both cities with a relatively small core municipality and a more suburban region around.

Where Chicago is a much larger 'core city'.

Detroit city: 674,000
Detroit Metro: 5,600,000

Buffalo city: 256,000
Buffalo Metro: 1,100,000

Chicago city: 2, 700,000
Chicago Metro: 9,500,000

Using the same internet search terms

Toronto city: 3,000,000
Toronto Metro: 6 ,000,000

Though the direct comparison to Chicagoland, in terms of area is the Greater Goldenhorsehoe.

Which is 9.3 Million.

*****

Any which way you look at it, the core of Toronto is much larger relative to its suburbs vs the 2 U.S. examples of great decline.

But that's true, at least in part, because of a series of amalgamations (going back well before the mega-city) in Toronto's case.

Where I don't think there's any evidence of that having happened in Buffalo or Detroit.
 
I assume you're referring to the early 20th century amalgamations in Toronto? Detroit did expand its land area quite extensively during this period as well. It was a "late bloomer" among the industrial giants, tripling in size between 1910 and 1930 and (not surprisingly) more auto-oriented.. In some ways Detroit is the "Los Angeles of the rust belt" believe it or not.



 
Or you referring to the 1954 creation of Metro as an amalgamation of sorts, which in a way it was. I would argue that the creation of Metro was our "1898 moment" (the year modern-day NYC was created) not the 1998 amalgamation.
 
Or you referring to the 1954 creation of Metro as an amalgamation of sorts, which in a way it was. I would argue that the creation of Metro was our "1898 moment" (the year modern-day NYC was created) not the 1998 amalgamation.

Metro for sure.

But also, the municipalities within Metro when from 13 at its inception, to only 6 by the time the 'mega-city' happened.

Most if not all of those were done by 1967.

This is what Metro started with:

New Toronto
Mimico
Long Branch
Etobicoke

(The first three all folded into Etobicoke)

Weston
York

(the former merged into the latter)

Leaside
East York

(the former merged into the latter)

Swansea
Forest Hill
(old) Toronto

The first two folded into to Toronto

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Additionally, we saw resource-sharing across much of southern Ontario, but for purposes of this discussion, the GTA, with the other Regional Municipalities

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Detroit (City proper) is only 370km2. A bit more than 1/2 the size of the City of Toronto geographically.

To compare, if we transplanted the footprint of Toronto over Detroit, it would include:

Detroit
Hamtramck
Highland Park
Grosse Point
Grosse Point Park
Grosse Point Farms
River Rouge
Ecorse
Wyandotte
Melvindale
Souithgate
Lincoln Park
Allen Park
Dearborn
Dearnborn Heights.

That's 15 local fiefdoms each w/their own schools, their own police etc etc.

****

By no means am I suggesting mergers/annexations/amalgamations would have resolved all the problems of Detroit (or even most) or any of the other cities most adversely affected
by deindustrialization.

But I would suggest that the cities on both sides of the border that came out of it best benefited from that.

While U.S. cities more deeply affected lacked that benefit.
 
The dearth of metropolitan areas and amalgamations in the US has always been curious to me. I don't know if it is a cultural thing or there are legal impediments to them.
 

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