Using Jane Jacobs' critique of postwar city-building as a starting point, Fowler shows that recent North American urban development has been characterized by development projects on a massive scale, an indiscriminate use of vast areas of land, and an increasingly evident homogeneity. These are characteristics, Fowler argues, of a perverse and unnatural way of building that is wrecking the planet and enfeebling our social and political networks. In exploring how the built environment contributes to social problems, Fowler used Toronto as a case study, conducting extensive field work in nineteen areas of the city. He shows not only that postwar building was the result of conscious public policy but goes further, arguing that our cities reflect deep-seated insecurities and cultural malaise in surprisingly direct ways.
Post-war city building from above and below: Part 1 The lack of physical diversity - its consequences; the economic costs of the new North American city; the social consequences of the new North American city; children; politics and the new urban environment. Part 2 Exploring why we built this way - openings to change; why did we do it? - explanations for the post-war urban environment; basic assumptions; our cities, our selves.