Downtown Toronto

Downtown Toronto
Downtown Toronto
The Financial District of Toronto, looking down from atop the CN Tower, November 2005
Country  Canada
Province  Ontario
City Toronto Toronto

Downtown Toronto is the central business district of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is approximately bounded by Bloor Street to the north, Lake Ontario to the south, the Don River to the east, and Bathurst Street to the west. The district contains the headquarters of many Canadian companies, buildings of the municipal government of Toronto and provincial government of Ontario.



Aerial view of the Financial District from the CN Tower at night

The Financial District, centered on the intersection of Bay Street and King Street is the centerpiece of the Canada's financial industry. It contains the Toronto Stock Exchange, which is the largest in Canada and seventh in the world by market capitalization. The construction of skyscrapers in Downtown Toronto had started to rapidly increase during the 1960s.

The retail core of the downtown is the Downtown Yonge area located along Yonge Street from College Street to Queen Street. There is a large concentration of retail here, including the Toronto Eaton Centre indoor mall. There are an estimated 600 retail stores, 150 bars and restaurants, and 7 hotels. In recent years the area has been experiencing a renaissance as the Business Improvement Area (BIA) has brought in new retail and improved the cleanliness. The area has also seen the opening of the Dundas Square public square, a 'Times Square' of Toronto and surrounding development. The area includes several live theatres, a movie complex at Dundas Square and the historic Massey Hall. Historical sites and landmarks include the Arts & Letter Club, the Church of the Holy Trinity, Mackenzie House, Maple Leaf Gardens, Old City Hall, and the Toronto Police Museum and Discovery Centre.

The area of St. Lawrence to the east of the financial district is the oldest area of Toronto. It features heritage buildings, theatres, music, dining and many pubs. It is a community of distinct downtown neighbourhoods including the site of the original Town of York, which was Toronto's first neighbourhood, dating back to 1793. The area boasts one of the largest concentrations of 19th century buildings in Ontario. Of particular note are the St. Lawrence Hall, St. James' Cathedral, St. Michael's Cathedral, St. Paul's Basilica, the Enoch Turner School House, the Bank of Upper Canada, Le Royal Meridien King Edward Hotel, and the Gooderham Building. Further to the east is Corktown and the Distillery District. On Saturday there is a farmers market.

To the west of the financial district is the Entertainment District. It is home to hundreds of restaurants, nightclubs, sporting facilities, boutiques, hotels, attractions, and live theatre. The district was formerly an industrial area and was redeveloped for entertainment purposes in the early 1980s, becoming a major centre for entertainment. The redevelopment started with the Mirvish family refurbishing of the Royal Alexandra Theatre and their construction of the Princess of Wales Theatre. The area is now the site of Roy Thomson Hall and the Canadian Broadcasting Centre.

The Yorkville area, to the north, north of Bloor Street, has more than 700 designer boutiques, spas, restaurants, hotels, and world class galleries. It is a former town in its own right and has developed into an up-scale shopping district. The intersection of Bloor and Yonge Streets is the intersection of the city's subway lines and is one of the busiest intersections in the city. At the intersection of Avenue Road and Bloor Street is the Royal Ontario Museum, the largest museum of the city, with a diverse anthropological and natural history collection.

The Harbourfront area to the south was formerly an industrial and railway lands area. Since the 1970s, it has seen extensive redevelopment, including the building of the Rogers Centre stadium, numerous condominiums and the Harbourfront Centre waterfront revitalization. The area to the east of Yonge Street is still in transition, with conversion of industrial lands to mixed residential and commercial uses planned. The PATH Underground, which is an extensive network of tunnels connecting the buildings of the area, helps take people from off the streets, especially during the winter months.

Among the important government headquarters there is the Ontario Legislature, and the Toronto City Hall.

Notable sites in downtown

Downtown Toronto at night


Aerial view of downtown


View of downtown Toronto from Gardiner Expressway.

In the 1970s, Toronto experienced major economic growth and surpassed Montreal to become the largest city in Canada. Many international and domestic businesses relocated to Toronto and created massive new skyscrapers in downtown. All of the Big Five banks constructed skyscrapers beginning in the late 1960s up until the early 1990s.

Today downtown Toronto contains dozens of notable skyscrapers. The area's First Canadian Place is the tallest building in Canada at height of 298 metres (978 feet). Once the tallest free-standing structure in the world, the CN Tower, is the tallest landmark in Toronto, standing at 553.33 metres (1,815 ft., 5 inches). Other notable buildings include Scotia Plaza, TD Centre, Commerce Court, the Royal Bank Plaza, The Bay's flagship store, and the Fairmont Royal York Hotel.


The University of Toronto, established in 1827, is the oldest university in the province of Ontario and one of the world's leading public research institutions. The St. George campus is located in downtown Toronto. The area is also home to a number of other post-secondary educational institutions including Ryerson University, George Brown College the Ontario College of Art & Design and the Royal Conservatory of Music. There are many public schools of the Toronto District School Board in downtown Toronto.

Retail and transportation

Downtown Toronto is home to the flagship department stores of The Bay and Sears Canada (formerly Eaton's). The Toronto Eaton Centre is a large, multilevel enclosed shopping mall and office complex. It houses 330 stores and the building itself occupies several blocks.

The most famous and busiest road in Toronto is Yonge Street, which starts at the end of Lake Ontario and runs through downtown, continuing north all the way to the city of Barrie, Ontario. Other streets like Dundas, Bloor, Queen, King, and University are very popular also. The Toronto Transit Commission is the Toronto area's public transportation system. Nearby airports include Toronto City Centre Airport which is adjacent to downtown and the much larger Toronto Pearson International Airport located 27 km to the northwest.

See also

  • List of central business districts
Other major business districts of Toronto


Coordinates: 43°39′9.01″N 79°23′0.81″W / 43.6525028°N 79.3835583°W / 43.6525028; -79.3835583

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