The neighbourhood is booming thanks to the condo craze and improved transit.
Toronto is know as the City of Neighbourhoods, and Midtown — from Lawrence Avenue in the north to the train tracks at Summerhill in the south, and between Avenue Road and Bayview Avenue in the west and east — is no different.
Forest Hill Village is probably the largest of the neighbourhoods in the area, but it also includes Davisville Village, Summerhill, Wychwood Park, Hillcrest, South Hill, Casa Loma, Deer Park, Moore Park and Yonge and Eglinton.
Up until the early part of the 19th century, the area around Yonge and Eglinton was one of the largest cattle grazing regions in Upper Canada (my father tells me his family would pack a picnic lunch and go to Yonge and Eg for the day). It was here that the habit of attaching cowbells to all cattle, instead of just the best piece of livestock, became common practice. To honour the story, Toronto named a local street Cowbell Lane.
In 1837, about 400 rebels, under the leadership of William Lyon Mackenzie, gathered around Montgomery’s Tavern, just north of the intersection, to try and overthrow the British government. The rebellion was a failure and the tavern was torn down in the 1930s and replaced by Postal Station K.
Forest Hill, Deer Park, Casa Loma and Summerhill are some of the most upscale neighbourhoods in the city and boast some of the most exclusive residences, both new and historic.
Davisville Village is a sought-after neighbourhood and is home to many residential highrise apartments and boutique shops. Its many large Victorian and Tudor homes are among the most expensive residences in the city.
The centre of Midtown is Yonge and Eglinton, and has been undergoing a condo boom of late, which has resulted in a surge of commercial building and a massive influx of young urban professionals and families. In the next decade, there will be more than several new condos built in the neighbourhood.
There are a large number of condos and townhouses on offer right now. A full list can be found at CondoLifeMag.com.
The new Crosstown LRT, which will run under Eglinton Avenue both east and west, and connect to the subway station at Yonge Street, is making the area hot again after a decade or two of neglect, so expect to see new clubs, restos and area amenities boom in the next few years.
Casa Loma is a Gothic Revival-style house and gardens built as the residence for financier Sir Henry Mill Pellatt between 1911-1914, and designed by E.J. Lennox (Old City Hall and the King Edward Hotel). It is one of Toronto’s great landmarks and is always worth a visit. The Spadina Museum, a historic manor on Spadina Road, is now a museum that has preserved the house much as it existed in the 1860s.
Parks & Rec
There are many small parks in Midtown, but the largest swath of green space is the historic and pastoral Mount Pleasant Cemetery and the hidden St. Michael’s Cemetery. The cemeteries encourage visitors, walkers and hikers to use its many paths and benches.
The area is ripe with shopping areas, but only has one large mall, the Yonge Eglinton Centre, which boasts an enormous Chapters store as well as a multi-screen Cineplex. With all the new developments underway, major U.S. retailers are moving into the area, including Restoration Hardware and Urban Outfitters.
Davisville Village, Forest Hill and the strip of Bayview Avenue south of Eglinton boasts great boutique shopping, florists, bakeries and cafés, but it’s Yonge and Summerhill that’s famous for its gourmet food stores and the flagship LCBO outlet, built in an old train station — worth the visit if only to see the amazing architecture.
Subway, streetcars, all-night buses and soon the Crosstown LRT service the area. Union Station is just a short hop away on the subway, giving commuters access to GO Transit. Highway 401 is just to the north, the Allan Expressway to the west and the DVP is east, making commuting anywhere in the GTA easy.
Eat your heart out
Midtown is home to numerous fabulous restaurants, including Mark McEwan’s North 44, which sets the standard for gourmet indulgence, and Scaramouche, which is one of the city’s very best restaurants. But if high-end dining isn’t your thing, you’ll find great Italian eateries, the best Indian restaurant in the city, Indian Street Food Company on Bayview Avenue, cafés, pubs, burger joints and take-away places that suit any taste or budget.