Downtown West was originally part of the vast military garrison lands that were established to protect the Town of York – the forerunner to Toronto – against attack from the United States. Following the war of 1812 peaceful relations were established with our neighbour to the south and the garrison lands were sold to the railway, which became a vital cog in the booming industry then taking place along Toronto’s harbourfront.
By the 1960s much of Toronto’s port-based industry had moved north of the city, thus rail service dwindled to a trickle. The railway lands — a site bound by the Rogers Centre to the east, Bathurst Street to the west, Front Street to the north, and Lakeshore Boulevard to the south — then lay dormant and derelict for over 30 years while the City of Toronto debated what to do with them. In 1998 city council finally approved the sale of the railway lands, which are currently being redeveloped into a $2 billion condominium development known as CityPlace.
Another re-birth in the Downtown West is the King/Spadina/Bathurst district, which was at the heart of Canada’s garment industry until the early 1990s. Now many of these shop worn buildings are finding new life as trendy loft condominium projects and funky office space for the media services, high-tech communications and graphic industries.
Downtown West is Toronto’s most lively neighbourhood. This neighbourhood’s vitality is due to the fact that Toronto’s Entertainment, Fashion, and Financial districts are all located here. Until recently there were limited residential options in Downtown West. However, in the past few years the rezoning of King-Spadina commercial buildings into residential lofts, the downtown condominium and townhome building boom, and the massive redevelopment currently underway at the former railway lands have now made it possible for many more people to live, work and play in this urban neighbourhood.