Bay Street – Financial District
Known as the heart of Toronto’s financial district and the city’s equivalent of Wall Street, Bay Street is also in the middle of Toronto’s cultural, scientific, educational and political spheres. The area also has a colourful history that serves as a micocosm of world history.
Originally part of a neighbourhood known as The Ward, Bay Street (then called Terauley Street) has been home to those fleeing the European Revolutions of 1848 and the Irish Potato Famine, slaves escaping the US via the Underground Revolution and many escaping the Russian Revolution in 1917. The area was also the original home of Toronto’s Jewish community, and then served as part of the city’s original Chinatown and Little Italy neighbourhoods.
Today, Bay Street stretches from Lake Ontario in the south to Davenport Road in the north. Along the way, the street passes by everything from City Hall to the Eaton Centre to the University of Toronto, one of the reasons why the area has evolved into one of Toronto’s prime condo markets.
Many young professionals live in this neighbourhood, attracted by being at ground zero for law firms, investment banks and Canada’s economic movers and shakers. Not surprisingly, it is also home to the TSX, one of the world’s leading stock exchanges.
History and Social Profile
The Bay Street Corridor became socially prominent in 1827 with the founding of King’s College, later renamed the University of Toronto. In 1899, Toronto City Hall was relocated to the corner of Queen and Bay streets and in 1930 Eaton’s opened their College Park store at Yonge and College Streets. By the time the new Toronto City Hall opened in 1965, the Bay Street area had become one of the jewels of the new Toronto.
A residential renaissance began in the 1990s with a condo construction boom along the Bay Street corridor. The boom has continued to this day with numerous high-rises already completed or under construction, and luxury condo developers competing to put up the most spectacular buildings.
This boom has made Bay Street one of the most densely populated neighbourhoods in the city, as people discover the joys of being within walking distance of every major attraction in downtown Toronto. As well as the Financial District and City Hall, Bay Street is also next door to the Discovery and Hospital Districts — which include some of the world’s leading hospitals and many cutting-edge research establishments. Some of Toronto’s most revered cultural institutions, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts — home to the Canadian Opera Company — are just steps away. Bay is also located by both Ryerson University and the University of Toronto, as well as the city’s booming club district.
Bay is also only one block over from Yonge Street, the most famous strip in Canada, and home to some of the most eclectic shopping in the city. For more upscale shopping, the Yorkville district and the Bay-Bloor intersection offer high-end jewelry and international fashion retail outlets. Bay Street is also home to a number of the city’s most acclaimed restaurants.
- Canoe Restaurant & Bar
- The Gabardine
- Earl’s Kitchen & Bar
- Bay Subway
- Bay Streetcars
A small stretch of Bay Street is serviced by streetcar, and the rest of the street has bus service. Streetcar lines also operate along College Street, Dundas Street West, Queen Street West and King Street West. Bay is also within walking distance of every stop along the downtown stretch of the Yonge-University subway line, as well as the Bay subway station itself.
- Jesse Ketchum Jr. and Sr., 61 Davenport Rd., 416-393-1530
- Church Street Jr., 83 Alexandra Street, 416-393-1250
Public High Schools
- Jarvis Collegiate Institute, 495 Jarvis Street, 416-393-0140