Great Streets of the World

No Longer Available

Streaming until August 31
Film Info


"The magic of the street is the mingling of the errand and the epiphany," said writer Rebecca Solnit. Whether we’re talking about a simple pathway or an elegant city boulevard, the city street has evolved into one of our most impactful human creations, a source of wonder and delight. In this thought-provoking new series from Curious Minds favourite Lisa Pasold (Rebel Paris, Inventing Modern Paris), this renowned writer and travel journalist will use famous examples from her favourite city, Paris, and other great world cities to explore these vibrant urban spaces. We’ll experience the frenetic energy of Takeshita Street in Tokyo’s bustling Harajuka district. We’ll eat Mexican ice cream while strolling along Merida's Paseo Monte. We'll discover Charles Dickens' favourite kind of street party and talk about how storytellers hold history in the great square of Marrakech. As we draw lessons from history, philosophy, literature and urban design, we’ll discover the joys and possibilities of the most extraordinary, and culturally vibrant, streets in the world.

Lisa Pasold

Led by Lisa Pasold, a Governor General’s Award–nominated writer, journalist (The Globe and Mail, Chicago Tribune) and television host of Discovery World’s Paris Next Stop. A Canadian now living in the City of Light, she previously led the popular Curious Minds series’ Inventing Modern Paris and Learning from Paris.

The six lectures in this series will all be available to stream unti August 31. You can access each lecture at your leisure by clicking on links in your confirmation email, or by visiting your My Shows page.

Lecture 1: The Magic of Market Streets: From Paris to the World
What better to conjure the famed French way of life than a market street? We’re beginning our conversation in rue Montorgueil, a centuries-old shopping street in Paris located near the old central market. From there, we'll look at how a few wildly different market streets share strong elements around the world, be it cosmopolitan Temple Street in Hong Kong or dusty Lenin Street on the modern Silk Road in Kyrgyzstan.

Lecture 2: The Great Boulevards: Where Pomp and Power Meet
The street has always been about people-watching, promenading, and protesting. The Grand Boulevards of Paris essentially came from the demolition of former city walls; citizens enjoyed new freedom, strolling along the new wide streets of the spreading city. We’ll hold Baron Haussmann accountable for a concept that continues to inform urban planning across the globewhether in Moscow, Barcelona or Washington D.C.

Lecture 3: Highways: Where The Future of Cities is Fought
When talking about great streets, can a highway even qualify? Think about Toronto’s hated 401, which allows us to move across the city and access the world. But are highways entirely bad? We’ll talk about Georges Pompidou and his very questionable highway through the heart of Paris, Robert Moses’ radical plans in New York, and Toronto’s very own Jane Jacobs. Is it time to reconsider the highway?

Lecture 4: Main Streets: Where Communities Come to Life
Does Main Street USA still exist? Around the world, innumerable small Main Streets died as suburban malls killed “mom & pop” shopping, forcing us into our cars and preventing the possibility of community. We’ll look at the evolution of the Main Street ideal—from ancient Pompeii to rue de Rivoli to the Strip in Las Vegas. And we’ll look at a current iteration of Main Street in the small Canadian town of Duncan, where a downtown business association is keeping the flame alive.

Lecture 5: Residential Streets: Where Houses and Happiness Reign
What’s essential for a good residential street? Do you imagine elegant Paris apartments overlooking a formal French park, or a New Orleans row of shotgun houses? Maybe you picture a lemonade stand set up on the edge of a lawn, in a tree-lined street of Saskatoon. Let’s talk about how streets directly affect our happiness at home.

Lecture 6: Desire Paths: Where New Discoveries Are Made
We often think of urban design as a top-down planning system. But our streets evolve depending on how we use them. A “desire path” is an unplanned shortcut through the city—down an alley, for example, or through an empty lot: a path that ignores the formal sidewalks of the city. To wrap up our series, we’ll talk about how desire paths are being used as a basis for new urban planning, and how citizens of the world have always mapped their own routes through the city, be it Armenians in Yerevan or Parisians in Montmartre.

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