St Lawrence Market, Toronto
ST LAWRENCE MARKET NEIGHBOURHOOD is one ‘HOT’ Toronto area to live in. 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!
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Surrounded by the historically rich Old Town and national landmarks of Old York, the St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood has both retail and history infused along a few city blocks. While the St. Lawrence Market and its over 50 specialty retailers serve as the area’s nucleus, keep your eyes peeled for the Hockey Hall of Fame, Flatiron Building, St. Lawrence Hall and the Victorian & Sculpture Gardens… they are all located within the borders of the Neighbourhood.
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Just wander around and take in the ambiance of the fresh fruit vendors or let the aromas of the hot lunches tantalize you.
The St Lawrence Market is the heart of it all, and yet there is still plenty of green space in the area. Grab a book and take a walk to St. James Park, where you can relax and take in the architectural surroundings from the gothic styling of the St. James Cathedral, to the towers of the financial district and even the CN Tower.
From arts and theatres to an abundance of restaurants, cafes, nightly entertainment in neighbourhood bars, there is never a dull moment in the St Lawrence Market neighbourhood.
St. Lawrence Market is a neighbourhood located in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The area, a former industrial area, is bounded by Yonge, Front, and Parliament Streets, and the Canadian National railway embankment. The Esplanade off Yonge St., lined with restaurants, cafés and hotels runs through the middle of the area. In previous times, the area was sometimes referred to as ‘St. Lawrence Ward’ or more often today as ‘St. Lawrence Market’, synonymous with the large retail vendor market which is the neighbourhood’s focal point. The area is the site of a large city-sponsored housing project of the 1970s, which revitalized an old ‘brownfields’ area.
History of St. Lawrence Market
The town of York was founded in 1793, on a site of ten blocks north of Front Street between George and Berkeley Streets. The area of today’s St. Lawrence neighbourhood was then below the waterline, the shoreline being just south of Front Street. The area was infilled to provide more land for port and industrial uses adjacent. St. Lawrence was the first industrial area of York.
The first parliament buildings in Upper Canada in 1793 were constructed on the southwest corner of Parliament and Front Street. The buildings have long since gone from the site, but a discovery in 2000 when a quick dig of the property revealed the old parliament building footings, in addition to some pottery from that time. The city and the province now own most of the property. Their is a marker for the First Parliament Buildings at Parliament Square Park, West of Parliament Street, East of Berkeley, and South of Front. The marker is actually south of the original site. The Ontario Heritage Trust has set up the Parliament Interpretive Centre at Front and Berkeley to provide historical information about this parliament that was destroyed by American troops during the War of 1812.
A Saturday farmers’ market began operation at Front and Jarvis in 1803. The current Market building, south of Front, is open daily, selling foods and other goods, while the Saturday farmers’ market operates in the north building, on the north side of Front Street.
In 1834, Toronto’s first city hall was built on the southwest corner of King St. East & Jarvis St. at the old ‘Market’ building from 1834 (the year of Toronto’s incorporation from the former town of York) to 1844. This building was later burnt down during the great fire of 1849 and replaced with the grandiose St. Lawrence Hall and north section of the market, referred to today as the ‘North Market’.
A larger city hall, also housing a police station and jail cells opened in 1845 with a 140′ facade running along south side of Front Street. City Hall was moved out of the area in 1899 to what is now Old City Hall before moving once again to its current location. The former city hall was converted into and expanded into the market gallery or ‘South Market’. The old council chamber is all that remains of the original city hall and is located on the gallery’s second floor.
By 1840, the waterfront was completely taken over by government and merchant wharves. The Esplanade, a 100 feet (30 m)-wide road, was proposed, just south of Front Street, with new water lots made from cribbing and filling of the shore to the south. The waterfront was extended to a survey line from the point of the Gooderham windmill west to a point due east of the old Fort Rouille. Ostensibly for carriages and carts, the roadway eventually became primarily the route for rail lines in the central core. In exchange for 40 feet (12 m) of the Esplanade, the railways underwrote the infilling of the harbour. The Esplanade and infill project was complete by 1865.
Commercial activity along Toronto’s bustling harbour provided employment and was the primary place of entry to the quickly growing, burgeoning city. The convergence of the railway lines and the wharves must have worked because in 1873 historian Henry Scadding so eloquently wrote in his book Old Toronto of The Esplanade “…It has done for Toronto what the Thames Embankment has done for London…”
In the 1920’s, the railway lines were relocated to a new, raised viaduct to the south of the Esplanade. This left the current section between Yonge and Berkeley Street.
St. Lawrence Market Housing Projetct
By the 1960s, the industrial uses of the area had declined, leaving numerous empty sites and decrepit buildings. In the 1970s it was decided by mayor David Crombie to turn the area into a new residential neighbourhood, but one that would not make the same mistakes of the ‘urban renewal’ housing projects of earlier decades. The neighbourhood was to be integrated into the city with no clear boundaries. It would contain a mix of commercial and residential as with both subsidized and market oriented housing, mostly rowhouse or low-rise apartments. The neighborhood was planned by Alan Littlewood and the influence of American urban planner Jane Jacobs played a crucial role. Many of the developments were not completed until well into the 1990s. Since that time, the St. Lawrence neighbourhood has been critically acclaimed as a major success in urban planning. In many ways, it has become the model for the design and planning of new urban communities across North America.
Since that time, the area around St. Lawrence Market has been redeveloped into a popular downtown residential neighborhood.