Photo by Eric Fischer
You can look at this map as a picture of where people like to go, the equivalent of those worn-down paths in parks and fields, not officially recognized but well used, that are known as desire lines. Or you could see them as a guide for city planners looking for new transit routes. But looking at this image by Eric Fischer, the one thing you can’t help but see is an animate creature with living blood coursing through it, bringing the oxygen of human activity to all its limbs and organs.
Though Yonge, Bloor and Queen have the highest systolic pressure, the more delicate veins truly give the city its heart. These are the routes, roads and paths, undesignated by city mothers and fathers, that are lines of sheer desire. It’s not where we’re told to go, it’s where we want to go, where we do go. It is these lines, branching off from an artery and flowing into a Scarborough strip mall, up one secondary road and down another from church to McDonald’s, that tell us something.
Most travel from Avenue to Lansdowne via Bloor, but a few use circuitous Davenport, here a squiggle transecting the heavily outlined central square. It’s also a paved version of a centuries-old native footpath, a line of desire. This circulatory diagram is made with geo-tagged tweets, largely by higher-income folk zipping in and out of the core. But consider these social media–obsessed smartphoners as tracers, and you’ll see an urban tribe living outside the lines.