LIBERTY VILLAGE… ONE OF TORONTO’S HOTTEST NEIGHBORHOODS. It’s full of human energy: it’s fun, lively, memorable… not boring. It’s the kind of place where you might bump into a long-lost friend, maybe stumble across creative inspiration; whether for a song or a new business… OR EVEN MEET THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE.
But did you know… Liberty Village was once a heavy industrial area in Toronto, which had been largely abandoned. Re-intensification of the area led to a 45 acre planned community located within the King West District now known as Liberty Village and the ‘Liberty Village‘ name was introduced as a positive ‘brand’ by the property owners and developers in the area in conjunction with the City of Toronto.
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New construction projects have come to Liberty Village. New condos and townhouses make up the bulk of residential properties and many of the old factories have been converted into lofts, restaurants, gyms, furniture stores and galleries.
From 2004 to the present, the area has experienced phenomenal growth. It began as an area for young professionals and artists pushing further west for less established areas, while still remaining a short walk or streetcar ride from the core. Now, it’s an engine of activity with everything you could possibly want or need within walking distance.
Liberty Village is a neighborhood in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is bounded at the north by King Street West, the west by Dufferin Street, the south by the Gardiner Expressway, the east by Strachan Avenue, and the northeast by the CP railway tracks. The Liberty Village name was introduced as a positive ‘brand’ by the property owners and developers in the area in conjunction with the City of Toronto. The neighborhood aims to distinguish itself from Parkdale, which now begins west of Dufferin Street. Its location is considered one of its finest assets being a 15 minute walk to the Lakeshore, 20 minute streetcar ride to the financial core and a 20 minute walk from the entertainment/fashion/gallery districts of King St. West.
Partly because of this, Liberty Village has experienced phenomenal growth from 2004 to the present in terms of new condos/lofts, office space, a new park, and a multitude of new shops and restaurants. It has been dubbed by many the “hottest” neighborhood in Toronto.
The ongoing gentrification of downtown Toronto has been pushing farther outwards from downtown (see Queen Street West, Niagara, Distillery District), encouraging rapid development. It has become a trendy neighborhood for young professionals and artists pushing farther west for less established areas, while still remaining a short walk or streetcar ride from the core. Many old factories have been re-purposed as lofts while others have become restaurants, gyms, furniture stores and galleries, as this area was primarily a former heavy industrial area.
The industrial building that used to house a paper company and up until 2003, the Irwin Toy Factory, was converted into industrial residential lofts and mixed commercial use spaces. The Toronto Carpet Factory Building on Mowat Avenue and its surrounding campus of industrial structures is an example of 1900s’ turn of the century industrial architecture and currently houses a mixture of design, technology, media and marketing companies. Old storage and factory spaces at Liberty Street and Hanna Avenue were converted into commercial spaces in the 1980s and 1990s, and they comprise Liberty Market. The Market houses design firms and collectives, media, technology and marketing firms, and an eclectic mix of retail stores. Structures from the old Inglis Factory and the former Massey Ferguson Head Office surround the heart of Liberty Village, further testifying to the industrial history of the neighborhood.
Artscape, a non-profit urban development organization that revitalizes buildings, neighborhoods, and cities through the arts has a strong presence in Liberty Village, providing mixed live/work spaces for local artists. Its influence can be seen throughout the neighborhood and maintains the valued tradition of a neighborhood that was once dominated by artists searching for affordable living and studio spaces.
Liberty Village is known for its successful Art and Design studios, but media and technology companies also have a strong presence in the community. Many Canadian and US design and technology firms have located to Liberty Village, creating many jobs for the increasing number of citizens that have moved into the growing neighborhood.
Offices are mostly concentrated in the west end of Liberty Village. New residential developments are currently focused on East Liberty Street, which begins east of Hanna Avenue. Over 20 new restaurants have opened in the past 3 years, providing the residents and workers in the community with many eclectic places to dine and enjoy their developing neighborhood.
Liberty Village’s name comes from its central street, Liberty St. named in honor of a historic prison reform, the initiative of then Provincial Secretary William John Hanna who forced the closure of Toronto’s Central Prison located north of the CNE and west of Strachan Avenue in 1915. Before it closed, the Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women used to be on the site where Lamport Stadium currently stands. The street where the prisoners, when released, would directly walk on to became known as — “Liberty Street”