Queen West Village is Still seen as the holy grail of “trendy” Toronto neighborhoods Queen West Village has often been imitated… but the real thing is so much better! The neighborhood always manages to weave trendsetting restaurants and the hottest clothing boutiques from emerging city artists.
Queen West Village describes both the western branch of Queen Street, a major east-west thoroughfare, and a series of neighborhoods or commercial districts, situated west of Yonge Street in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Queen Street begins in the west at the intersection of King Street, The Queensway, and Roncesvalles Avenue. It extends eastward in a straight line to Yonge Street where it becomes Queen Street East; eastbound Queen TTC streetcars loop at Neville Park Boulevard near Queen Street East and Victoria Park Avenue in The Beaches neighborhood.
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Queen Street was the cartographic baseline for the original east-west avenues of Toronto’s grid pattern of major streets. The western end of Queen (sometimes simply referred to as “Queen West”) is now best known as a center for Canadian broadcasting, music, fashion, performance, and the visual arts. Over the past twenty-five years, Queen West has become an international arts center and a major tourist attraction in Toronto.
History of Queen West Village
Since the original survey in 1793 by Sir Alexander Aitkin, commissioned by Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe, Queen Street has had many names. For its first sixty years, many sections were referred to as Lot Street. The first lots laid out in the new city of York (which would be renamed Toronto in 1834) were given to loyal officials who were willing to give up the amenities of modern cities such as Kingston to take up residence in the forests. These 40 hectares (99 acres) lots were placed along the south side of the first east–west road laid in York, Lot Street. In 1837 Lot Street was renamed in honor of Queen Victoria.
“Queen West Village” is local vernacular which generally refers to the collection of neighborhoods that have developed along and around the thoroughfare. Many of these were originally ethnically-based neighborhoods The earliest example from the mid-19th century was Claretown, an Irish immigrant enclave in the area of Queen Street West and Bathurst Street. From the 1890s to the 1930s, Jewish immigrants coalesced in the neighborhood known as “the Ward”, for which Queen Street between Yonge and University served as the southern boundary. The intersection of Queen and Bay Streets also served as the southern end of a thriving Chinatown in the 1930s. From the 1920s to the 1950s, the area was also the heart of Toronto’s Polish and Ukrainian communities. From the 1950s through the 1970s, many immigrants from Portugal settled in the area. Gentrification over the past twenty years has caused most recent immigrants to gradually move to more affordable areas of the city as desirability of the area drives up prices.
Like other gentrified areas of Toronto, the original “Queen West Village” —the stretch between University Avenue and Spadina Avenue — is now lined with upscale boutiques, chain stores, restaurants, tattoo parlous and hair salons. Perhaps the best-known landmark on this section of Queen West is the broadcast hub at 299 Queen Street West, formerly the headquarters of Citytv and MuchMusic, now housing the broadcast operations of a number of television outlets owned by Bell Media.