Toronto Reborn


An incisive view of Toronto’s development over the last fifty years.

In Toronto Reborn, Ken Greenberg describes the emerging contours of a new Toronto. Focusing on the period from 1970 to the present, Greenberg looks at how the work and decisions of citizens, NGOs, businesses, and governments have combined to refashion Toronto. Individually and collectively, their actions — renovating buildings and neighbourhoods, building startling new structures and urban spaces, revitalizing old cultural institutions and creating new ones, sponsoring new festivals and events — have transformed the old postwar city, changing it into an exciting modern one.


City-building is not a job for those who want instant gratification. Ken Greenberg has been playing the urbanism long-game for six decades — his forethought and instincts on display in Toronto Reborn have been proven correct and the city is now reaping the rewards. But make no mistake: the challenges and obstacles facing Toronto, both political and environmental, are real and only intensifying. Ken has made those issues crystal clear and it’s up to the next generation of civic leaders to continue to point our city in the right direction.

Matthew Blackett, publisher & creative director of Spacing Magazine

This book will be an invaluable resource for all people interested in cities, especially for those who call Toronto home. It will help develop a shared vision and make it even better for all, especially for the most vulnerable.

We are incredibly fortunate to have Ken in our midst, not only observing and chronicling the evolution of our city, but actively shaping how our neighbourhoods are envisioned and built. His work in Regent Park and in our ‘city of the arts’ on the Waterfront has been enormously impactful. Ken's vision and voice are making Toronto an even better place to live, work, learn, and play.

Ken Greenberg has played an instrumental role in reshaping Toronto for the better over the last forty years. In his book Toronto Reborn, we get his insights into those astounding changes and the challenges we must address to fully realize our city’s potential.

Toronto is at its greatest crossroads: Will it become one of the great, innovative and inclusive global city of the 21st century, or will it be stymied by its challenges of inequality, affordability, political polarization and its own meekness. Ken Greenberg’s Toronto Reborn tells the remarkable story of a city that has come so far, has so much promise, and can be a beacon for cities across the world. Mandatory reading for mayors, city-builders, businesses and everyone who is concerned with our collective urban future.

Richard Florida, University of Toronto, School of Cities

This is a delicious read for all North American urbanists. As Greenberg details the key initiatives that are shaping Toronto’s transformation, he couples a searing critique of past follies with a deep and compelling optimism that our inclusiveness, diversity, open-mindedness, and civility is resulting in a great city that is steadfastly Canadian, but also a world inspiration.

Larry Beasley, C.M.

This book arrives at a critical moment in Toronto’s history. After several decades of explosive growth and social change — which Greenberg frames with insight and optimism — the city is suddenly being confronted with the dramatic policy shifts of a new provincial government. My hope is that the forces Greenberg describes can prevail, and that Toronto can continue its emergence as a global city.

Cherise Burda, Executive Director, City Building Institute, Ryerson University

Although Toronto’s great diversity and social cohesion have been celebrated for decades, a deeper understanding of the city’s collective character remained elusive. In Toronto Reborn, Ken Greenberg weaves a bold new picture of Toronto, revealing its essence and distinctive style.

Larry Wayne Richards, Professor Emeritus and Former Dean, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto

Toronto Reborn is a must read for all who care passionately about the future of Toronto. Having been deeply involved in so many of the exciting new initiatives that are re-inventing Toronto, Ken is able to offer an expert and unique history of these events. It is a hopeful and inspiring story of a series of out-of-the-box initiatives over the past fifty years that taken together add up to a new, inclusive, and progressive way to do city building. Will the promise of Toronto be fulfilled in the new political environment? Toronto Reborn sets out what is at stake.

Anne Golden, Chair of the Ryerson City Building Institute

Ken Greenberg has been one of our prominent guiding lights on urban development and city building. His book comes at an important time in our city’s history, which should be of interest to anyone who is truly concerned about our city’s future.

Steve Diamond, President and CEO of Diamondcorp, Chair, Waterfront Toronto Board of Directors

Back when I decided that I wanted to understand more about city building I read Ken’s book Walking Home. In Toronto Reborn he builds upon his first book, all the while mindful of the implications of an archaic BNA Act and an anti-urban provincial government. Despite Toronto’s challenges Ken optimistically shares his thoughts on everything from the suburbs to nature and the waterfront. A must read if you want to imagine a better Toronto.

Richard Peddie, Former president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment

Many cities claim their history, geography, people, and institutions make them different and newly desirable. But in Toronto’s case, this actually appears to be true — for all the above reasons and for one Ken Greenberg uncovers and explores in great depth: our use of design as a tool of renewal.

Bob Ramsay, Founder of RamsayTalks

In Toronto Reborn, Ken Greenberg shows his in-depth knowledge and insights of urban design and the social and economic life of cities. This comes from a lifetime of helping cities around the world become better places for everyday people to live. Toronto Reborn is a must read for anyone interested in how and why cities change, and a call to action for those who have chosen Toronto as the place to live, work, and bring up their families. Ken’s values and insights have been a lifelong guide and inspiration to all people who live in cities.

Judy and Wil Matthews, founders, Bentway Conservancy

If you want to understand how a big city works, this is the book for you. By dissecting its organized chaos, Ken Greenberg reveals a complex Torontoism that offers lessons to other cities and a path forward for Torontonians themselves.

Shawn Micallef, author of Frontier City: Toronto on the Verge of Greatness

Ken Greenberg’s Toronto Reborn is a great reminder of how far this city has travelled — just as we are poised for dramatically more change. We need to look back to remind ourselves how a values-based city — a city with a social conscience — evolved, and how that might influence our future.

Marianne McKenna O.C., partner, KPMB Architects

About the Authors

Ken Greenberg

Posted by Dundurn Guest on August 14, 2018
Ken Greenberg photo

Ken Greenberg

Ken Greenberg is an urban designer, teacher, and writer, whose passion and advocacy for the city over the past decades has involved him in virtually every aspect of its remarkable transformation. He lives in Toronto.