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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

VIDEO: The Social Life of Small Places

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William Whyte got it right: the legendary urbanist created the film “The Social Life of Small Places” that has become one of the best learning tools for students, professionals, and urbanists about understanding the dynamics of public spaces.

The films is almost an hour long, but its worth that watch on a Sunday afternoon.



  1. wOw…

    Look at that late 70’s hair & sideburns!!!

    The documentary explains the dynamics of the public plaza at 2300 Yonge (NW corner at Yonge-Eg), across the street from my first job at General Foods at 2200 Yonge.

    During the winter this little plaza was a wind-swept Arctic tundra with people scurrying to and fro the subway, trying to avoid frostbite from the winter winds funneled through the two high rise towers north & south of Eglinton. The under Eglinton/Yonge walkways were the preferred subway access/egress.

    In the summer, however, it was transformed just like Seagram Square in New York into a small but very active social plaza, with people sitting on the many steps, planters, edges, having coffee, lunch, reading a newspaper or watching people go by… little did I know back in 1976 the same behaviour was being studied in New York by Mr. White… so that’s what we were doing!!!

  2. Nathan Phillips Square makes a brief appearance starting at 51:54!

  3. The video is actually called “The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces.”