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The Walkable City: From Haussmann's Boulevards to Jane Jacobs' Streets and Beyond (Urban Studies) Paperback – April 1, 2009

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About the Author

Mary Soderstrom is the author of Green City: People, Nature & Urban Places; Recreating Eden: A Natural History of Botanical Gardens; and The Violets of Usambara. Her articles have been published in The Globe and Mail, The New York Times, Plant and Garden, and the San Francisco Chronicle. She lives in Montreal, Quebec.


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Product Details

  • Series: Urban Studies
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Véhicule Press (April 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1550652435
  • ISBN-13: 978-1550652437
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,553,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Mary Soderstrom is a Montreal-based writer of fiction and non-fiction. She is the author of four works of non-fiction, three short story collections, five novels and one children's book. In addition over the years she has done a wide variety of reporting on science, urbanism, politics and writing. Her blog Recreating Eden ( is an eclectic, almost-daily look at the world. Recently she also began Not So Solitary A Pleasure: A Blog about Books ( in which she talks about books she likes and doesn't like.

In November 2013 Oberon Press published her 13th book, Desire Lines: Stories of Love and Geography ISBN 13: 9780778014096. The first review in The Montreal Review of Books says: "Desire Lines revolves around a set of themes, notably the desire and geography of the title, yet each story approaches an idea in a different way. Desire lines are defined as the "paths that people take when they want to go somewhere," which "frequently have no relation to the formal layout of roads and sidewalks." The characters taking these paths are fascinating, complex, and refreshingly diverse. Soderstrom employs a wonderful economy of language, so that much is conveyed about the characters in a relatively short space."

Her latest non-fiction book is Making Waves: The Continuing Portuguese Adventure. Véhicule Press, 2010 ISBN-10: 1550652923 The book is an outgrowth of the traveling she has done in recent years for her other books. Everywhere she went--from the East coast of Africa to the West coast of India, from Brazil to Newfoundland--she found traces of the Portuguese and their descendants. Their story was little known and appreciat outside the Portuguese-speaking worldd, and Making Waves is an attempt to set that right.

Mary's other recent books include The Walkable City: From Haussmann's Boulevards to Jane Jacobs' Streets and Beyond, Vehicule Press, 2008
ISBN 978-1-55065-243-7

Kevin Plummer of The Torontist calls The Walkable City "an easy-to-read book that presents substantial ideas that will continue to percolate as the reader explores his or her city."

Mary's latest novel was published in spring 2008 by Cormorant Books
The Violets of Usambara
ISBN 978-1-55065-243-7

"Mary Soderstrom's The Violets of Usambara is a moving novel that explores the possibility of redemption in a morally complex world. Cutting between Canada and tension-filled Burundi, it has echoes of Graham Greene both in setting and tone, but it is above all Soderstrom's intelligent investigation of power and its absence and love over a lifetime of a marriage."Antanas Sileika

Work in progress:

Making Waves, The Portuguese Adventure (due from Vehicule Press in Fall 2010)


River Music, a novel about three generations of women

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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Steven Forth on June 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
A sweet little book, I read much of it while out walking around the South End of Boston (walking while reading is one of my many bad habits). Soderstom has woven together elements of social history (the stories of Baron Haussmann and Paris, Jane Jacobs and New York and Toronto), with personal narrative and policy analysis. She makes you want to get out and walk around, and travel, travel even to such unexpected places as Don Mills Ontario (now there is a sentence I had never expected to write).

This book is a gentle introduction to what we need to do to make our towns and cities more walkable and our lives healthier and more enjoyable. It is especially recommended as it covers nit just North American (New York, Toronto, Carlsbad CA, Don Mills, North Vancouver), but other places as well - Europe (mostly Paris), Asia (Singapore) and Africa (Lushoto, Tanzania).

I have been fortunate to always have lived in cities that were walkable (Montreal, Ottawa, Tokyo, Copenhagen, Vancouver, Boston) and now I will only live in a place where I can walk to a good fish monger, green grocer and bookstore, where I can get downtown by foot, and where I can cycle or walk to work. My current home in the South End of Boston is perfect, as is the place where my wife and I raised our children, Kitsilano in Vancouver.

One small point - there is little in this book about cycling. I hope that the cities and towns of the future will blend walking, cycling, low impact public transit and good access to interurban transportation that pushes feelers out into the coutryside. Perhaps Soderstrom will follow up this book with something on urban cycling - an edgier experience than walking, but vital to our future transportation (I hope).

In any case, I liked this book enough to go out and order her other two books: Green City: People Nature and Urban Places and Recreating Eden: A Natural History of Botanical Gardens.
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