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Is the west side of Toronto more prominent than the east side?

denfromoakvillemilton

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Hear me out.


It seems to me reading blogto, torontolife, spacing, torontoist, etc. It seems all of Toronto's greatest attractions are west of Yonge Street. Most of the trendy neighbourhoods outside of Riverdale and Leslieville are all west of Yonge Street. Obviously, there's the Scarborough problem as well. So why is west side of Toronto much more on the map per se then the east? Any thoughts?
 
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Ramako

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Hear me out.


It seems to me reading blogto, torontolife, spacing, torontoist, etc. It seems all of Toronto's greatest attractions are west of Yonge Street. Most of the trendy neighbourhoods outside of Riverdale and Leslieville are all west of Yonge Street. Obviously, there's the Scarborough problem as well. So why is west side of Toronto much more on the map per se then the east? Any thoughts?
I've heard that - historically - neighbourhoods on the east sides of cities in North America and Europe tended to develop to be less well-off and attractive than those in the west as the odours from industry and garbage in the central city would generally carry eastward due to prevailing winds. No idea if this ever applied to Toronto.
 

CDL.TO

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I've heard that - historically - neighbourhoods on the east sides of cities in North America and Europe tended to develop to be less well-off and attractive than those in the west as the odours from industry and garbage in the central city would generally carry eastward due to prevailing winds. No idea if this ever applied to Toronto.
Yes, it holds true in a lot of North American and European cities. The north and/or west side tends to be more affluent while the south and/or east side tends to be less so.

There are lots and lots of exceptions, but it's a noticeable theme.
 

Anna

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Hear me out.


It seems to me reading blogto, torontolife, spacing, torontoist, etc. It seems all of Toronto's greatest attractions are west of Yonge Street. Most of the trendy neighbourhoods outside of Riverdale and Leslieville are all west of Yonge Street. Obviously, there's the Scarborough problem as well. So why is west side of Toronto much more on the map per se then the east? Any thoughts?
Yes. Than, not then.
Yes. It's the west end and the east end.
 

TheTigerMaster

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Hear me out.


It seems to me reading blogto, torontolife, spacing, torontoist, etc. It seems all of Toronto's greatest attractions are west of Yonge Street. Most of the trendy neighbourhoods outside of Riverdale and Leslieville are all west of Yonge Street. Obviously, there's the Scarborough problem as well. So why is west side of Toronto much more on the map per se then the east? Any thoughts?
My theory is that the Don River caused a delay in the developments of the lands east of the river. Starting from Downtown, it would have been easier to built north and west than it would have been to build east. By time significant development started east of Don, the west side was already well established.
 

denfromoakvillemilton

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My theory is that the Don River caused a delay in the developments of the lands east of the river. Starting from Downtown, it would have been easier to built north and west than it would have been to build east. By time significant development started east of Don, the west side was already well established.
That's a good point. I noticed yesterday on the Queen Streetcar that Queen West is so much more busier then Queen East, huge difference.
 

ehlow

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Hear me out.


It seems to me reading blogto, torontolife, spacing, torontoist, etc. It seems all of Toronto's greatest attractions are west of Yonge Street. Most of the trendy neighbourhoods outside of Riverdale and Leslieville are all west of Yonge Street. Obviously, there's the Scarborough problem as well. So why is west side of Toronto much more on the map per se then the east? Any thoughts?
While I don't disagree with your overall premise, I do want to add that Beaches, Greektown, St Lawrence Market, Distillery District are pretty great neighbourhoods & attractions in my book. It should also be getting much better as the eastern waterfront develops.

But yeah, I agree that historically it was the Don River and winds.
 

acornman

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There are still neighbourhoods in the east end that have not gone through the gentrification process like the west end has. Maybe in a few years when Regent Park, Cabbagetown and St Jamestown go through some developments that will make the east end of downtown on par with the west end. If we go further east then the east end of Danforth, the Kingston Road area, and Many parts of scarborough are still a bit rough.

That and there really isn't much to do or see east of the DVP. I live in East York and I hardly ever venture east of Warden, but I do find myself going to the west end a lot.
 

TheTigerMaster

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My theory is that the Don River caused a delay in the developments of the lands east of the river. Starting from Downtown, it would have been easier to built north and west than it would have been to build east. By time significant development started east of Don, the west side was already well established.
That's a good point. I noticed yesterday on the Queen Streetcar that Queen West is so much more busier then Queen East, huge difference.
While I don't disagree with your overall premise, I do want to add that Beaches, Greektown, St Lawrence Market, Distillery District are pretty great neighbourhoods & attractions in my book. It should also be getting much better as the eastern waterfront develops.

But yeah, I agree that historically it was the Don River and winds.
You actually can see this delay in development east of Don play out in the archives.

Lets arbitrarily pick Yonge Street to be the centre of the city.


This photo was taken at Delaware and Bloor in 1917, 3.5 km west of the centre of the city. The area is already well established; it even has a streetcar line


This is Danforth Ave looking east from Pape in 1913, 3.5 km east of the centre of the city. The land appears to be undeveloped farmland. There's no streetcar and the roads haven't even been paved yet.


This was taken at Davenport Road and Uxbridge Avenue in 1915, approximately 6 km west of the centre of the city. There's relatively high density development in the background of the photo.


This is Danforth looking west from Woodbine in 1915, approximately 6 km east of the centre of the city. The north side of the street is untouched by development, while the south has only a few buildings.


1894 road network. It's clearly less developed east of the Don.


This is a 1912 streetcar map that also includes our complete road network at the time. We can clearly see how the road network is dramatically less developed east of the Don River. And only three of Toronto's streetcar lines extended east of Don (Broadview, Queen, Gerrard).


In the 1940s, the streetcar/bus network east of Don is still underdeveloped compared to west of Don.


It isn't until the 1960's that the lands east of Don gets a surface transit network comparable, but still inferior, to west of Don.

TL;DR: The Don River created a natural barrier to slow down development east of the river. The lands west of Don River were well established by time we started building east of Don River, resulting in the modern day prominence of the west side of the city.
 
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denfromoakvillemilton

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While I don't disagree with your overall premise, I do want to add that Beaches, Greektown, St Lawrence Market, Distillery District are pretty great neighbourhoods & attractions in my book. It should also be getting much better as the eastern waterfront develops.

But yeah, I agree that historically it was the Don River and winds.
I like Greektown a lot. Somehow I don't find myself going past Donlands on the Danforth much.
There are still neighbourhoods in the east end that have not gone through the gentrification process like the west end has. Maybe in a few years when Regent Park, Cabbagetown and St Jamestown go through some developments that will make the east end of downtown on par with the west end. If we go further east then the east end of Danforth, the Kingston Road area, and Many parts of scarborough are still a bit rough.

That and there really isn't much to do or see east of the DVP. I live in East York and I hardly ever venture east of Warden, but I do find myself going to the west end a lot.
Intresting. Do you ever go to STC? I imagine it's much cheaper then the Eaton Centre.
 

TheTigerMaster

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I like Greektown a lot. Somehow I don't find myself going past Donlands on the Danforth much.
I don't either. The street is not as vibrant east of Donlands.

The opening of the Danforth Subway apparently took much of the vibrance of the Danforth underground with it since people were now passing under the community, rather than through it. Business owners on Danforth petitioned the TTC to reintroduce surface transit hoping that it would bring back some of the vibrance and business.

It's interesting that we didn't see the same effect on Bloor. Perhaps it goes back to the west end of the city (including Bloor) being well established, while the east end (including Danforth) was relatively young when the Bloor-Danforth opened in 1966.
 
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King of Kensington

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Great post TigerMaster. Yes, development east of the Don was spurred largely by the construction of the Prince Edward Viaduct, so it was largely built up in the interwar period.

Here are some population figures for 1901, 1911 and 1921 that I posted in the streetcar suburbs thread. All are for south of Bloor/Danforth except for ward 6 in which I had to use the CPR tracks as a northern boundary. My figures are based on a combination of wards and census districts. For reference, here's an old ward map:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ea/Toronto_ward_map_1964.PNG

West end:

Ward 5 (Queen to Bloor): 23,723; 38,158; 45,158, +90%
Ward 6 (south of Queen): 5,246; 8,245; 10,306, +97%
Ward 6 (Queen to CPR): 22,303; 59,609; 80,602, +262%

East end:

Ward 1: 11,179; 24,387; 33,747, +202%
Ward 8: 4,663; 28,151; 66,204, +1329%

My figures are from Michael Piva, The Condition of the Working Class in Toronto - 1900-1921.

The west end (south of Bloor) increased by 165% during the period, the east end by 530% (and that doesn't include the Midway annexation north of Danforth).
 
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