In Newspaper City, Phillip Gordon Mackintosh scrutinizes the reluctance of early Torontonians to pave their streets. He demonstrates how Toronto’s two liberal newspapers, the Toronto Globe and Toronto Daily Star, nevertheless campaigned for surface infrastructure as the leading expression of modern urbanity, despite the broad resistance of property owners to pay for infrastructure improvements under local improvements by-laws. To boost paving, newspapers used their broadsheets to fashion two imagined cities for their readers: one overrun with animals, dirt, and marginal people, the other civilized, modern, and crowned with clean streets. However, the employment of capitalism to generate traditional public goods, such as concrete sidewalks, asphalt roads, regulated pedestrianism, and efficient automobilism, is complicated. Thus, the liberal newspapers’ promotion of a city of orderly infrastructure and contented people in actual Toronto proved strikingly illiberal. Consequently, Mackintosh’s study reveals the contradictory nature of newspapers and the historiographical complexities of newspaper research.
‘This book is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in the role of the press in urban reform, or the way in which new infrastructure technologies change the look, feel, and function of the modern city.’
"Mackintosh brings to life a time when newspapers were essential building blocks in the development of cities. Newspapers provided a common information base for citizens to form opinions about how their city should develop; they were a critical element of democracy even though, as the author suggests, the actual decision makers were an elite group of city burghers closely linked to the newspaper owners."