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Fort Wayne: Prettier than Detroit, but not as Pretty as Toronto

By Gloria Diaz

Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!

Fort Wayne Reader

2005-02-21


Imagine walking around in a city, downtown, late at night. Imagine you can walk and not be afraid of being mugged. Imagine shopping late on a Sunday night, and after browsing, stop at a donut shop for a snack. Imagine riding the subway and not worry about crime. Imagine a big city full of friendly strangers who are genuinely sorry if you ask them something they donít know the answer to.

Canít imagine it? Well, I lived it. The city exists and its name is Toronto. Iíve never visited a city and felt so at home, so relaxed, so in tune with a place. Iíd never been there before, so how could the city seem so easy, familiar and welcoming? I donít know. Maybe itís the Canadian vibe; or maybe itís true what I read in a guidebook before I went to Toronto. There was a quote saying, ďToronto is ďNew York, as run by the Swiss.Ē Thereís no doubt that Toronto is a big city that is doing it right. I love New York, but the brusqueness of the people and general filth of the city can be a bit off-putting. Chicago is prettier and cleaner, but thereís something missing. And Detroit is just an embarrassment. The whole city seems like a ghetto and whoever is running the city needs to go to Washington D.C., get down on their knees and beg for some help.

Okay, so Toronto isnít a crime-free utopia. While I was there, an 11-year-old girl was caught in a shootout on a city bus. A woman killed her husband, two of their children and herself, leaving her seven-month-old baby daughter, the lone survivor, an orphan. And George Bush showed up to visit Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin. Okay, that happened in Ottawa, but most Canadians would consider that meeting a crime anyway.

I canít really describe the Toronto mindset, the vibe of the city. New York has taxis and crime, Chicago had its stockyards/gangster reputation, Las Vegas is Sin City, but Toronto? When I told my brother I was going to go there for a visit, he replied, ďwhatís there?Ē As it turns out, plenty. There are museums (Hockey Hall of Fame; Bata Shoe Museum, Museum of Contraception) sports (Argonauts, Blue Jays, and the Maple Leafs, but not this year) tourist attractions (CN Tower, Casa Loma) shopping (Yonge Street, Eaton Centre, Honest Edís, Kensington Market, the Annex) the University of Toronto, Ontario Science Centre, and.....well I wonít go on, except to say that a short drive east from Toronto and youíre in the center of Canadaís wine-making country. In nearby Brantford, the tourist center will gladly give you directions to the house Wayne Gretzky grew up in.

Actually, Torontoís slogan for years was ďToronto the Good.Ē People lamented the fact that they couldnít get a drink on Sunday, despite the town being relatively crime-free. It isnít so much that way now, but thereís still plenty of the good to make one think the town is great. The city strikes the right balance between being a town appropriate to raise kids in and have enough going for it so that the single and the childless donít get bored. One of the guidebooks I read warned that Toronto was such a great place to visit that you actually may want to live there. I believe it.

Shortly after my return, Menís Health magazine named Fort Wayne the dumbest city in the United States. I donít read Menís Health, but based on what I see and hear every day, the survey didnít really surprise me. Fort Wayne has potential, but the people who run the city need to be a little less defensive about the town and really work on bringing decent jobs to the area. Of course the people in charge think itís a great town; they run it. But talk to the ordinary people, and they know better.

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