Where Exactly is Downtown Toronto

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Downtown Toronto
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This approximately 17 square kilometers area is where everything began. In 1793, the city of Toronto was established as the Town of York which is now the main central business district of Toronto. It was once the home of Victorian houses and grand estates. But now, Downtown Toronto has the third most skyscrapers in North America. Where exactly is downtown Toronto?

Downtown Toronto is bounded by Lake Ontario to the south, Dupont Street to the northwest and Bloor Street to the northeast, the Don Valley to the east, and Bathurst Street to the west. This largest concentration of skyscrapers and businesses in Canada includes some of the most popular neighborhoods of Toronto.

Downtown toronto

Neighborhoods of Downtown Toronto 

Downtown Toronto is composed of many popular neighborhoods. The full list includes:


St. Lawrence is one of the oldest areas of Toronto. It is located at the east of the financial district. The most popular features in St. Lawrence are the heritage buildings, and diversity of stores, restaurants and pubs. It is the home of Toronto’s first neighbourhood (Town of York). St. Lawrence has one of the largest concentrations of 19th century buildings in Downtown Toronto. There are also other historical districts in Downtown Toronto, including Corktown, Yorkville, the Distillery District, Cabbagetown, and Old Town.

Yorkville is Toronto’s most Cosmopolitan neighbourhood. It has five star hotels, a popular shopping district, wonderful designer boutiques, charming antique shops, theaters, restaurants and galleries. Yorkville Avenue and Cumberland Street are the commercial heart of Yorkville.

One of the busiest intersections in Toronto is the junction of Bloor and Yonge Streets. It is the commissure of the city’s subway lines. The Royal Ontario Museum is also located in this neighborhood, which is the largest museum of Toronto.

Harbourfront Neighborhood

The Harbourfront Neighborhood is one of the most popular downtown neighborhoods with so many recreational, and commercial features in Toronto. It was once an industrial area, but this neighborhood has experienced an extensive redevelopment since the 1970s. Some of the developmental projects include multiple condominiums, Rogers Centre stadium and the Harbourfront Centre waterfront revitalization. All of these wonderful features of this picturesque area made it a popular destination for tourists.

Architecture of Downtown Toronto

Where the now shining new condos and towers stand, was once filled with beautiful Victorian row houses. Downtown Toronto has many neighborhoods with different cultural vibes presented in a diverse mixture of various architectural styles.

Toronto was a city which was at first established as a result of its harbour. Since the port was the source of economic prosperity of the city, most of the oldest buildings of Toronto were built near the harbour. Then some newer buildings and industrial structures have developed around the harbour. Two of these facilities include Gooderham and Worts whiskey distillery and Massey Ferguson’s farm equipment factories. Here, we are going to review some of the most prominent architectural buildings in Downtown Toronto.

CN Tower

CN Tower 

The CN Tower is one of the most popular landscapes of Toronto. This 1,815 ft. tower was built in 1975 on the former Railway Lands. For 32 years, the CN Tower was known as the world’s tallest free-standing structure. Then in 2007, it granted its title to the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It is still the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere, but the 9th tallest free-standing structure in the world. It is a communications and observation tower.

As the 1960s and ’70s, skyscrapers ascended all over the city, the CN Tower was built so high to solve the reception problem of broadcasting signals. American Society of Civil Engineers has classified the CN Tower as one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World in 1995. This iconic building of Toronto’s skyline attracts more than 1.5 million international visitors annually. It is one of the city’s main attractions.

Old City Hall

Old City Hall

Two distinct structures in downtown Toronto are the old and new City Halls. The Old City Hall is a stunning sample of the Victorian-era Romanesque-style civic building which was built in 1899. From 1899 to 1966, the Old City Hall was the home of the Toronto City Council. It is now one of Toronto’s most prominent structures located at the corner of Queen and Bay Streets. The Old City Hall had housed the city offices since 1899. It currently serves as a courthouse.

Old City Hall was designed by E. J. Lennox. The most significant features of its architecture are stone carvings, round arches, square towers and asymmetrical massing. It has circular towers with conical roofs and stone carvings of humans and animals using different-colored stones. The beautiful details in the interior and exterior architecture of this building are easily visible.

The 340 ft. clock tower of Old City Hall is noticeably visible from Queen Street and Nathan Phillips Square. From 1899 until 1917, this clock tower was known as the tallest building in Canada. Its clock was made in Croydon, England by Gillett & Johnston. The clock operated manually for many years, but it was automated in the 1950s. The top of the clock tower is only accessible by 280 stairs.

New City Hall

New City Hall

Just across the street is the current City Hall building which was completed in 1965. This masterful piece of modernist architecture was designed by Viljo Revell. The prominent feature of this structure is two partly asymmetrical semi-circular towers. From the aerial view of Toronto, you can see a large unblinking eye from the above of New City Hall.

It is the home of the municipal government of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, which is located at Nathan Phillips Square. The building’s base has a rectangular form, but it is composed of two curved towers in cross-section with different heights. The height of the east tower is 326 ft. and has 27 stories and the height of west tower is 260 ft. and has 20 stories. There is a council chamber between two towers which made it seem like two hands embracing the chamber.

Considering the strong winds of the Great Lakes, the exterior of the curve towers were built with concrete with a protective rib pattern. The design of Nathan Phillips Square in front of the New City Hall makes its modern design more visible. It has concrete arches on top of the reflecting pool and fountain. Recently, some sculptures and other art works have been added to make its original Modernist design more perfect.

Sharp Centre for Design

Sharp Centre for Design 

This boxy Lego spaceship structure was designed by Alsop Architects, which is located just next to the Art Gallery of Ontario. It is used as a studio and teaching space for the OCAD (Ontario College of Art & Design). The colorful and joyful design of this building invigorates the neighborhood. This unique style design is an example of postmodern architecture.

Read More : the Most Important Banks in Downtown Toronto

The Toronto Dominion Centre 

The TD Centre is located at the Financial District of Downtown Toronto. This office complex provides office and retail space for many businesses in the city. It is Canada’s largest commercial complex and about 21,000 people work in this building. TD Centre consists of six towers and a pavilion.

Its Modernist architect with the combination of bronze-tinted glass and black painted steel presents the city’s fast-paced progression. It is also one of the most comprehensive environmental programs in Toronto’s real estate industry. They have reduced the need for air conditioning in the summer; they also reduced its annual carbon footprint over 50%; it has 11,000 grass plants installed atop; it also has a waste diversion rate of 84%; and using a wireless Nano-Climate system they could decrease the irrigation water usage by 60%.

Cube house

Cube house

These cube form structures are designed by Piet Blom, a famous Dutch architect. The first intention of building such structures was to build affordable housing on too-small, hard-to-develop properties. There is a resemblance between these cube houses and tree houses. The living space in these units is more practical and the units are more spacious than you’d think. This bizarre cube house at Sumach and Eastern has surprised many pedestrians and drivers. But now its future is uncertain.

Where to go in Downtown Toronto 

There are some attractive spots in downtown Toronto that you can’t miss. Here are some of the most popular shopping centers, museums, entertainment centers and unique spots to visit when you are heading to Downtown Toronto.

Toronto’s Downtown Pedestrian Walkway

PATH is one of the interesting spots you might want to visit. It is a network of underground pedestrian tunnels with elevated walkways. It was designed to connect more than 70 office towers, restaurants, shopping, services and entertainment centers of Downtown Toronto. It includes 30 kilometers tunnels and walkways and over 1,200 retail fronts.

Each day more than 20.000 residents and tourists use these underground walkways to access public transit or other services and centers. Guinness reported the PATH as the largest underground shopping complex in the world, with 4,000,000 sq. ft. of retail space. The PATH has an important role in the economic feasibility of Downtown Toronto.

Eaton Center

Eaton Center

In Downtown Toronto, one of your best options for shopping would be Toronto’s largest mall. Eaton center is sitting under a stunning glass dome. It is the busiest shopping mall in North America. The design and structure of Toronto Eaton Centre was taken from Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. You can see the sculptures of Canadian geese on its glass ceilings created by Canadian artist Michael Snow. This massive multi-level indoor shopping mall has over 230 retailers and restaurants.

Eaton Center includes 4 office buildings and the Ryerson University Ted Rogers School of Management. The interior passages of Eaton Centre are part of the PATH underground network. Two subway stations are also connected to this huge shopping mall. It is also connected to Marriott hotel.

During your shopping journey in this four story mall, you can easily find everything, from fashion accessories to electronic accessories. For a more targeted shopping program, you can visit its website before going to the shopping center and check the updated list of stores. For refreshment while shopping, you can enjoy seeing its large fountain with a height of 85 feet. Or try the Urban Eatery, fast foods or international cuisines in its food court with more than 20 self-service restaurants.

Rogers center

Did you know that Toronto is the only city in Canada which has seven major-league sports teams (Basketball, football, hockey, baseball, rugby, soccer and lacrosse)? If you are a sports fan, so don’t miss visiting the Rogers Center.

Rogers center

This multi-purpose stadium is located southwest of the CN Tower in Downtown Toronto. Rogers Center is the last major stadium built for both football and baseball leagues in North America. It was famous as the first stadium with a fully retractable motorized roof. This stadium is also attached to Toronto Marriott City Centre Hotel, with 70 rooms, restaurant and bar and the view of the field.

The complex has a total of 5,700 club seats and 161 luxury suites. It also includes a 143,000 sq. ft. exhibition space that makes it possible to host different events each year, like auto shows, international conferences and circuses.

Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is a public aquarium which was opened to the public in October 2013. It is located at the south of the CN Tower and the east of the Rogers Centre in Downtown Toronto. This beautiful aquarium with 1.25 million gallons of marine and freshwater have more than 450 species and habitats from all around the world.

One of the main features of the building exterior design is the multi-faceted shell clad in large aluminum panels. The whole roof design creates a picture of the earth’s crust removing away to show the aquatic world.

Royal Ontario Museum

If you are a big fan of culture and history, try to visit the Royal Ontario Museum located at Bloor Street. It is a museum of art, world culture and natural history which is known as the largest museum and the most visited museum in Canada. It was opened to the public in March 1914.

There are more than 6,000,000 items and 40 galleries in this museum showing different collections of world culture and natural treasures. The items are from different eras, from the collection of dinosaur bones to African and European historical artifacts, costumes and textiles. There is also the largest collection of fossils in the world including more than 150,000 specimens in the Royal Ontario Museum.

The original building was designed by Frank Darling and John A. Pearson with an Italianate and Neo-Romanesque architectural style. The most prominent features of this architectural style can be observed in its rounded and arched and decorative eave brackets, quoins and cornices.

In 1933, the new wing and rear façade was added to the old building with less Italianate details and more neo-Byzantine style. The Byzantine-influenced style was obvious in its roughly-cut different-colored stones and triple windows in niche-shaped arches. The new Crystal shaped wing was designed by Daniel Libeskind in 2007. This Deconstructivist style part of the museum is covered by 25% glass and 75% aluminum, putting together on a steel frame.

Spectacular options for music lovers

The Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall are two wonderful concert halls in Downtown Toronto. The historic Massey Hall is a performing arts theatre, which now has 2,765 seats after an extensive 2 year revitalization. Its main building was designed by Sidney Badgley, and completed in 1894. Now the exterior has a Palladian architecture style and the interior has a Moorish Revival architecture style. The Massey Hall building was designated as a Heritage Property in 1973 and as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1981.

The newer Roy Thomson Hall is home to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. It is located right at the Entertainment District, Downtown Toronto. The hall is equipped with a large electric organ to give the audience a powerful and extensive musical experience. All summer, the venue hosts many different shows performed by international artists. Its main venues were used by the Toronto International Film Festival, People’s Choice Award events and also used as the setting for science fiction series “The Expanse”.

downtown toronto night clubs

But if you really want to dance in Downtown Toronto, the King Street West is the best place to find night clubs. The night life in Toybox is amazing. It was opened in 2019, but it quickly became one of the top Toronto clubs, the best place to hear Hip Hop and Top 40 music and dance.

Arcane is another club with a different classy style. They serve a surprising selection of cocktails and spirits. This music nightclub is one of the best in Downtown Toronto. EFS held some special events involving local and international performers. You will enjoy the collection of classic and modern Hip Hop, R&B and House music there. And the combination of beautiful design and wonderful music at Everleigh club can convince you to dance all night!

Where to eat in Downtown Toronto

Downtown Toronto has some of the busiest neighborhoods in the city, including Financial District and Entertainment District. So you can find spots for dining, gathering, partying or even drinking coffee with your colleagues.

Goodman Pub and Kitchen

The Goodman Pub and Kitchen has a beautiful waterfront patio, a menu full of contemporary and traditional foods and an extensive list of beers in a very friendly and picturesque spot. They also have daily specials, weekend brunch, plus games and stunning outdoor tables.

The Porch provides a marvelous rooftop patio with unrivaled views of the CN tower in Downtown Toronto. It has been chosen as one of the best rooftops in Toronto. Alo Restaurant serves the second best French foods in Toronto. They also have European cuisines, vegan and vegetarian foods and gluten-free options. It is a lovely downtown spot for having a great lunch and a good drink.

The Tilted Dog Pub & Kitchen has a nice outside basement patio with a lovely bar and restaurant. They serve the Canadian and International foods as well as vegetarian and gluten-free options. Their banquet burger is excellent. This shaded patio spot can be the best place for hot summer nights.

However, for a quick bite and a good coffee you can go to Dineen Coffee Company. You can enjoy the best espresso and brownies in Downtown over there. The friendly vibe and good coffee gets perfect with those marble tables and counters and the great smell of ginger molasses cookie. Balzac’s is another option for drinking good coffee right at the Distillery District, Downtown Toronto. It is a cozy coffee shop serving a perfect selection of drinks and cakes.

Fahrenheit Coffee

Your other choice can be Fahrenheit Coffee located at the Lombard St. within just 6 minute walk from St. Lawrence market. If you try the excellent taste of their coffee, that would be your favorite. You can pick the beans you want your coffee made from in there. They also have incredible scones and delicious cakes. The mixture of amazing staff, tasty coffee and friendly atmosphere makes this place a good spot for relaxing.

Additional facts about Downtown Toronto

Downtown area has very interesting neighborhoods that you can easily explore on foot. Like the multicultural neighborhood of Kensington Market with all its vintage classic boutiques and cozy vegan coffee shops. The number of interesting spots to visit in Downtown Toronto is significant and this article can’t mention all of them. But as the final part, let’s find out some facts and hidden places of downtown core.

Graffiti Alley

Graffiti Alley is one of the new attractions of downtown core, located between Spadina and Portland Street. These colorful back alleys are more than a series of frescoes. They are trying to differentiate between vandalism and art with legalized street arts.

Another attractive spot which is a foremost destination for many kids and adults in Downtown Toronto is The Rec Room. It is a 40,000 square foot space with a hundred arcade games, billiards, television or sports games as well as a Full service restaurant Three10.

Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

The most interesting spot for those who are looking for rare books would be Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. This library houses the “Department of Rare Books and Special Collections”. There are so many rare books, manuscripts and other materials, as well as the official records of the University of Toronto Archives and Records Management Services. It is located at the north-west corner of St. George and Harbord Streets.

Bata Shoe Museum (BSM) is somehow an unexpected kind of museum. It is an inspiring, charming and surprising shoe museum of North America. It includes over a thousand shoes and artifacts, more than 13,000 related objects showing in an award-winning building. Or you can enjoy spending your day at the Museum of Illusions. It is where psychology meets science. They make illusions using light, motion, and mirrors for the ultimate effect. It would be fun to take pictures in the Rotated Room with furniture locked to the ceiling.

A fun fact about Downtown Toronto is that Toronto is home to the world’s highest wine cellar which is in the CN Tower. And one terrifying fact is that the home of the city’s first mayor is so haunted. It is rumored that Mackenzie House on Bond Street, which is now a museum, has its own resident ghosts. Go and discover more if you dare!

Try to do a thorough research before you start exploring this area to make sure you won’t miss any of the attractive landmarks and neighborhoods of Downtown Toronto.

This was my take as a Toronto Real Estate Agent on Downtown Toronto! Please leave a comment if you have a story or you know a fun fact about Toronto’s Downtown!

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Downtown Toronto’s real estate market is a tapestry of diverse neighborhoods, each with its own unique charm and offerings. His intimate knowledge of these neighborhoods allows him to match clients with properties that align perfectly with their lifestyle and aspirations. From the vibrant streets of King West to the elegance of Yorkville, Ari can guide you through the intricacies of each area, helping you make informed decisions.

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