Monday, September 25, 2006

Chapter 3: Union Station

In case you are wonderin' what is going on with this post....click here.

In Chapter 3, Joe Fiorito explores this quote:

Human beings have been my maps.

Fiorito explores how immigrants and visitors to Toronto rely on the those of us who have lived in and around the city for directions. People who are brand new to Toronto, and for that fact any other major city, are pretty easy to spot. These are the people who seem to wander around the downtown areas totally awstruck by the buildings.

I reflected on this thought when thinking of my past observances of new people to major North American Cities that I have lived in (e.g. Toronto, Ottawa, New York City, etc.). Those of us who have lived in and around the city for years don't take notice of the buildings anymore. The buildings, to us, just exist and the aura of these buildings has become tarnished to us. These buildings, in other words, have become familiar to us.

Wheras the new people to the city stop on the sidewalks totally awstruck at buildings like the CN Tower and Rogers Centre in Toronto, or the Empire State Building or the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. Quite often these new people cause pedestrian traffic problems on the sidewalk as they stand their gawking at the buildings.

The "regulars" of the cities are more interested in getting to where ever they are going whether it be work, the bar or home. However, these regulars make the first impressions on the visitors and other new people to the city. Toronto has become known for, and I also noticed this in New York City as well, for being friendly to newcomers. The friendliness I'm noting stems from the easyness it is to request directions from the regulars. An example might be: "Where can I find a good family restaurant?" Another example might be: "where is the Eaton Centre/Brooklyn Bridge?" These questions in either Toronto or New York City are easily answered by most people who might be walking by on the sidewalk. These directions are usually accompanied by a friendly tone of voice, a smile and/or a welcome to town! Tourists and other newcomers are more likely to return to the city after being greeted friendly like this.

Governments and others should be looking at how to make services for necomers and/or tourists more visible and easily accessible. Allowing these people to come to the town/city and have a good time may mean these same people may make a return visit. Fiorito and his people are right in this particular chapter: A way to see if a town/city is worth anything in terms of how easy is to get around is to forget the city map in the hotel room/home and go out and explore the city by using human beings as your maps.

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