The CN Tower is arguably Toronto’s most recognizable and famous landmark. The world’s tallest free-standing structure is surrounded by the very heart of North America’s fifth largest city. But there is more to downtown Toronto than this dizzying 553-meter-tall pin-looking structure. The Art Gallery of Ontario (featuring a large collection of Henry Moore sculptures), City Hall, the Design Exchange museum, the Hockey Hall of Fame-downtown Toronto is home to an exciting number of famous sights. One can’t forget the biggest Chinatown in North America. Not many people know that this central neighbourhood of Toronto hosts the third largest theatre district in the world, right after New York and London. And south of Union Station, the redeveloped harbour front is one of the world’s most beautiful harbours.
Downtown Toronto is packed with towering glass and steel buildings, a must-see for any enthusiast of contemporary architecture. Toronto’s mushrooming downtown condominiums also follow this trend of modern, sometimes posh, beauty of contemporary buildings. Toronto assumes the mantle position of the condo capital of North America.
Let’s take a quick tour of some of Toronto’s condo neighbourhoods:
Residents of Toronto consider this neighbourhood as their front porch to the world. This rapidly developing area will be filled with parks, promenades, boardwalks-and high-rise condominium developments. Developers claim that the Waterfront will become a magnet for tourism, thus making Ontarians proud of their capital city.
What Wall Street is to the U.S., Bay Street is to Canada. This neighbourhood is the fast-beating heart of Toronto’s financial district. Four out of five major Canadian banks have office towers at the intersection of Bay Street and King Street. Bay Street stretches from the Toronto Harbour in the south to Davenport Road in the north. During the 1990s, condominium developments swelled along Bay Street, offering urban living in a comfortable yet luxuriously expensive proximity to the headquarters of the country’s largest companies and financial institutions. The Great Fire of 1904 left most of the downtown core in ruins. Bay Street, right up to Queen Street, burned to the ground. Over the years, Bay Street has been able to rebuild itself into an economical engine, not only for the city, but perhaps for the country as well.
This broad street runs north from Bloor to Metropolitan Toronto’s bifurcating highway, the Trans-Canada or 401. South of Bloor, Avenue Rd is renamed University Avenue. There, it sways past the quarry stone exterior of the Royal Ontario Museum and around leafy Queen’s Park with its life-size equestrian statue of King Edward VII (originally from India), the grounds and Philosopher’s Walk of the University of Toronto, and Ontario’s Parliament buildings. In a strip of stately commercial mansions, you pass Indiva fashions with their wrought iron gate, faux French pillars, arches and decorative balconies. There’s Tiffany’s marble front with a statue of Atlas holding a Roman numeral-faced clock, and Rolex with its white and gold watch, Hermes, Louis Vitton, Chanel and Godiva Chocolates.
This central Toronto neighbourhood is characterized by beautiful Victorian-style townhouses, trendy bars, restaurants and art studios. King West is an area with perhaps the most vibrant nightlife. Many small older buildings are being renovated and retrofitted to preserve the historical character of King. Despite taller condos going up on the north side of King West, the city plans to preserve the low-rise, old-city character on the south side of King. A great stretch of majestic buildings and very lively restaurants (on the south side from John to Spadina) is what makes this neighbourhood so popular. King Street West runs east to west, from Queensway to the Don River. It features the busiest streetcar line in Toronto, averaging about 50,000 passengers a day. Some must-sees in the area include the Roy Thomson Concert Hall, Canada’s Walk of Fame, and the Anglican Cathedral Church of St. James.
Once railway land in downtown Toronto, CityPlace is now a large condo development near the city’s lakeshore, a stone’s throw away from the financial district. Located at Spadina Avenue and Lakeshore Boulevard, CityPlace condominiums have been built at an ideal location near the SkyDome at Spadina and Front. The current CityPlace condo development was conceived by Concord Adex developments to be the tallest and largest in Toronto history. CityPlace, which will consist of 20 high-rises, half a dozen low-rise structures and 100 townhomes puts an end to a 30-year debate about the proper use of the old railway lands. From ching-ching to cheap, this neighbourhood features a vast array of restaurants. There is no shortage of greenery, either; parks, ponds and walking paths are everywhere, as the planners have devoted half of the CityPlace property to green space.
The St. Lawrence Market area used to serve as an industrial port back in the early 1900s. It had been neglected for decades when, in the ’70s, Toronto refurbished the area. This is where Canada’s Confederation began-in the historical St. Lawrence Hall building. The St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood is known for its unique and vivid architectural style. One of its landmarks, the Flatiron Building, was built before its younger brother in Manhattan. One of two major markets flourishing in Toronto, The St. Lawrence Market offers fresh food and a variety of goods. Some of the original factories of the area have been converted into lofts, and recently a number of new condominium developments have been built here
Yonge and Eglinton
Nicknamed “Young and Eligible” for its popularity with young professionals, this neighbourhood used to be part of the old Town of North Toronto. Nowadays, high-rise residential towers characterize this neighbourhood. Yonge and Eglinton is an area of many faces: here you can find a healthy mixture of townhouses, semi- and high-density condo developments. This affluent community is also very popular with young families. It is home to numerous sidewalk cafés and clothing boutiques. Mount Pleasant Cemetery is the largest green space in this neighbourhood. The Yonge Eglinton Centre complex includes a four-level shopping mall and multiplex cinema.
The city’s premiere shopping and dining district, Yorkville is one of the city’s few areas open for business on statutory holidays. A unique mixture of historic charm and modern seduction, Yorkville is home to an unbelievable 700 galleries. The Village of Yorkville was incorporated in 1853; up until then, it was non other than a quiet rural village just outside Toronto’s city limits. In the sixties, it was populated by Bohemians and hippies. This neighbourhood features attractive courtyards and alleyways, and a central contemporary park. The Toronto International Film Festival descends on the area each year, infiltrating many of the cinemas in the area.
This is an area in transition; however, the local Montgomery’s Inn turns back the wheel of time to the late 1840s. During the past few decades, the neighbourhood has seen the establishment of a great selection of entertainment options, services and businesses. South Etobicoke has a wide variety of residential communities divided by highways, rail corridors and industrial areas. The Etobicoke neighbourhood includes single-family homes, small-scale apartment buildings, as well as the more densely populated new condominium developments, with a number of public parks-James Gardens being one of them on the banks of the Humber River.
In local vernacular, this neighbourhood is known as the “Gaybourhood.” No wonder, for this vital and booming community houses one of the largest gay populations in North America. This large area is bordered by the streets Bloor, Yonge, Jarvis and Carlton. There are many trendy little eateries with patios along the strip. Not many Americans know that the television series Queer As Folk was filmed here; Church Street is where many of the external shots for QAF came from. The Village is a historic community with beautiful Victorian houses and apartments that date back to the late 19th century; however, new condominium developments are now being erected.