St. Lawrence Market
The St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood is known for its unique and vivid architectural style as well as for the thriving Market itself. The area used to serve as an industrial port back in the early 1900s. It had been neglected for decades when, in the 1970s, Toronto refurbished the area.
This is where Canada’s Confederation began – in the notable St. Lawrence Hall building, near the hub of today’s downtown. One of its landmarks, the Flatiron Building, was built before its younger (and more famous) brother in Manhattan. Today, this thriving pedestrian-friendly community is a rich blend of modern condominiums, historically significant buildings, and fine shopping, dining and entertainment. The neighbourhood is safe, with people walking about all hours of the day and night enjoying entertainment, taking public transit, and socializing.
This historic neighbourhood wears its heritage on its sleeve. Downtown condominiums and lofts in the St. Lawrence Market and Distillery District are often an intoxicating blend of the vintage and contemporary. Many still bear their original brick and stone facades, stately reminders of York’s industrial and financial past.
With very few options to choose from, St. Lawrence Market condos are definitely in high demand. The St. Lawrence neighborhood was the actual downtown center and city hall location for Toronto during the late 18th and entire 19th century. The area is bounded by Yonge Street to the west, Parliament Street to the east and The Esplanade to the south. The area is also referred to the St. Lawrence Market, synonymous with the large retail vendor market which is the neighbourhoods focal point on weekends.
The area boasts one of Toronto’s best loft conversions (the St. Lawrence Market Lofts at 81A Front Street East) and condos – as well as many great shops, cafés and restaurants. This is one neighborhood to keep on the radar when searching for your new home.
The St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood has long been considered one of the most desirable places to live in Toronto. The area offers a wide range of modern conveniences in a unique atmosphere that owes much to its past. Today’s St. Lawrence Market is at the heart of a vibrant commercial, retail and residential neighbourhood that is home to an amazing variety of restaurants, pubs, theatres, sports and recreational activities, churches and historic structures.
At it’s heart, the 200+ year old historic St. Lawrence Market is surrounded by numerous other historic structures such as the Gooderham Flatiron building and St. James’ Anglican Cathedral. There is easy access to public transportation and major highways.
One of two major markets flourishing in Toronto, (the other being the grittier Kensington Market) The St. Lawrence Market is one of the 25 best markets in the world according to Food & Wine Magazine. Home to over 120 specialty merchants offering a cornucopia of fresh food, natural locally grown produce and a variety of goods, this emporium is a popular destination for shoppers from all over the city.
There is a distinct neighbourhood feel to this area, even though you’re right in the heart of downtown, minutes to the Financial District, restaurants, the Eaton Centre and Distillery District. The residential buildings are mainly low-rise and mid-rise – some with lots of amenities, others with very few. This neighbourhood is as diverse as it is fabulous, easy to understand why it continues to grow in both value and appeal.
Those considering a move to St. Lawrence Market will have no trouble furnishing their new digs; especially along King East, there is a high concentration of furniture-meets-art shops with home décor ranging from practical condo-sized sectionals to pricey, custom designed mirrors. Huge glass windows invite passerby to come in and try out the couches at shops such as Norwalk Furniture, EQ3, Trianon, The Penthouse Furnishings, and Italinteriors.
In 1803, following recommendations made as early as 1796, Governor Peter Hunter issued a proclamation that the land bounded by Front, Jarvis, King and Church streets be officially designated the “Market Block”. Since that time, the Market Block, expanded to include the land created by landfill south of Front Street, has been a centre of government, commerce and social activity, first for the city of York, and then for Toronto. Since 1901, the South St. Lawrence Market has been known primarily for its fruits, vegetables, meat and cheese, with the main and lower levels showcasing over 50 specialty vendors known for the variety and freshness of their fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, grains, baked goods and dairy products, as well as for the uniqueness of the non-food items for sale.
The North Market is primarily known for its Saturday Farmers’ Market, a tradition begun on this site in 1803 and continuing today, as the producers of Southern Ontario bring their seasonal produce to market in the city. On Sundays, over 80 antique dealers fill the North Market and the surrounding plaza, displaying their wares from dawn to 5 p.m. Admission is free and the area is often crowded with people browsing tables filled with everything from hand-blown glass to antique watches.
St. Lawrence Hall, built in 1850, today houses retail businesses on the ground floor and City offices on the second floor. The third floor, restored in 1967 as the City of Toronto’s Centennial project contains the Great Hall which, with the ancillary rooms, is available for rent.
The St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood also offers a variety of historical sites, landmarks and present day tourist destinations. Adding to the sights, the local Business Improvement Area supports a summer flower and Christmas decoration program utilizing 150 Victorian lampposts throughout the neighborhood. Popular local attractions include the Cathedral Church of St. James, whose bells are heard on the hour; the Flatiron Building, often photographed; the Hockey Hall of Fame; and the Sculpture Garden on King Street, showcasing contemporary seasonal outdoor artwork.
The area just east of the Market is characterized by large, imposing buildings such as the home of the Canadian Opera Club, the behemoth Toronto Sun headquarters with its half-block wall mural, the Police Building and the Imperial Oil Opera Centre. The old brick fronts of these buildings have a distinctly New York feel, augmented by the seagulls whose cries lend a slightly melancholy tinge to the air.
The neighbourhood is a commuter’s delight, with the frequent service King streetcar, Sherbourne bus, and King subway all within walking distance.
Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416−388−1960
Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto Realtor with Century 21 Regal Realty. He did not
write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who are
interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.
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