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Toronto encompasses a geographical area formerly administered by many separate municipalities that have each developed their own distinct identity over the years. These include East York, Etobicoke, Forest Hill, Mimico, North York, Parkdale, Scarborough, Swansea, Weston and York. Hundreds of smaller neighbourhoods exist throughout the city as well.
Toronto’s many residential communities reflect distinct characteristics, from the condo skyscrapers of the downtown core to the Victorian and Edwardian-era residences found in enclaves such as Rosedale, Cabbagetown, The Annex and Yorkville. The Wychwood Park neighbourhood was one of Toronto’s earliest planned communities.
Old Toronto is home to historically wealthy neighbourhoods including Forest Hill, Rosedale, Lawrence Park, Moore Park and Casa Loma, to name a few. East and west of the city core are the bustling and culturally significant neighbourhoods of Kensington Market, Chinatown, Leslieville, Cabbagetown, Riverdale, Little Italy, Portugal Village and more.
York and East York represent the inner suburbs. They are traditionally working-class areas, consisting mainly of small single family homes and low rise apartment complexes. Crescent Town, Thorncliffe Park, Westwood and Oakwood-Vaughan have a higher concentration of high-rise apartments. During the 2000’s many of these neighbourhoods underwent gentrification due to an increasing population, resulting in many homes being replaced or remodeled.
The outer suburbs of Etobicoke (west), Scarborough (east) and North York (north) each have long established residential areas and their city centres have emerged as secondary business districts outside of downtown Toronto.
Many of Toronto’s former industrial sites have been redeveloped including parts of the waterfront, the western rail yards and the Massey-Harris district. A large scale development is underway in the West Don Lands. The Distillery District is the largest and best-preserved collection of Victorian architecture in North America and is now a thriving community of condos, restaurants and shops. Liberty Village is another successful repurposing of land and is now home to numerous condos, boutiques and eateries.
Despite the building boom of the last few decades, Toronto offers a diverse array of public spaces, from city squares to public parks to ravine lands.
Toronto’s varied cultural institutions include museums, galleries, entertainment districts and national historic sites. It is a prominent centre for music, theatre and the production of television shows and motion pictures. It is home to the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere, the CN Tower. The Air Canada Centre, recently renamed the Scotiabank Arena, is home to the city’s beloved Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Raptors.
The Toronto District School Board oversees 451 elementary and 116 secondary schools. Additionally, the Toronto Catholic District School Board manages the city’s publicly funded Roman Catholic schools. There are also numerous private schools including UTS, Upper Canada College and Havergal College. The University of Toronto, established in 1827, is Canada’s largest. York University, founded in 1959 is located in the northwest part of the city. Toronto is also home to the universities of Ryerson, OCAD and Guelph-Humber.
Recognized as a multiculturally diverse and cosmopolitan city, Toronto is the centre of business, finance, arts and culture.