Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing…
Daniel Burnham (1846-1912), architect and city planner
You can tell a lot about a city by what it builds. But what it fails to build also tells a story — of preferences, priorities, politics and economics. This exhibit examines significant municipal projects that were either never realized, or else built to one of a number of competing designs.
The exhibit starts with housing, the most basic of human needs, before moving on to road and transit proposals. An examination of rejected subway and light rail plans confirms the historic precedent for Toronto’s tendency to introduce ambitious transportation strategies, only to abandon them later.
Finally, No Little Plans concludes with an examination of the various schemes for a new city hall for Toronto. Starting in the prewar era, and culminating with the international competition that resulted in the construction of Viljo Revell’s now-iconic design.
This web exhibit is based on the exhibit curated by Mark Osbaldeston. He has written and spoken extensively on Toronto’s architectural and planning history. His first book, Unbuilt Toronto: A History of the City That Might Have Been, was the basis for an exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum and was a finalist for the Toronto Book Awards and the Speaker’s Book Award. It received a Heritage Toronto Award of Merit, as did its sequel, Unbuilt Toronto 2: More of the City That Might Have Been.