Since the beginning of the twentieth century, Toronto’s Kensington Market neighbourhood has been home to a multicultural mosaic of immigrant communities: Jewish, Portuguese, Chinese, South Asian, Caribbean, and many others. Despite repeated transformations, the neighbourhood has never lost its vibrant, close-knit character.
In Kensington Market, urban planner and public historian Na Li explores both the Market’s dynamic history and the ways in which planners can access the intangible collective memory that helps define neighbourhoods like it around the world. Through examinations of memorable Kensington landmarks such as the Kiev Synagogue, Hyman’s Bookstore, and United Bakers Dairy Restaurant, Li traces the connections between the Market’s built environment and the experiences of its inhabitants, providing a sterling example of how to map the intangible value of this national landmark.
Li’s book will be a must-read for those fascinated with this iconic Toronto neighbourhood, as well as anyone with an interest in the role heritage and collective memory can play in urban planning.
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Na Li is a research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences at Chongqing University and an adjunct professor at Shanghai Normal University, China.Review:
“Kensington Market combines scholarship with personal enthusiasm, empathy, and a commitment to communicating the essence of a place. Addressing Kensington Market as a distinctive place defined by its unique history, memories, and population, rendered in its evolving landscapes, Li recaps past planning attempts and recommends a shift from bureaucratic procedures to a more sensitive approach that incorporates the rich personal, cultural, and emotional experience of this neighbourhood.”(Brian Osborne, Professor Emeritus, Department of Geography, Queen’s University)
“Grounded in a wide range of contemporary and classic texts and spanning a diverse range of theoretical perspectives, Kensington Market shows Na Li’s deep connection to the market, its people, and its history.”
Pamela Robinson, School of Urban and Regional Planning, Ryerson University
“Kensington Market offers an impressive depth of historical and empirical detail about Kensington, including its history, its challenges, the memories of its residents, and its changing urban landscapes. Those familiar with the rich history, structure, and evolution of this ‘port of entry’ for immigrants from all over the world will agree that this book provides a well-organized and representative snapshot of the journey of those that settled there and built and rebuilt the neighbourhood over the course of a century.”
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