Toronto Entertainment District
The Princess of Wales Theatre, one of a number of venues in the Entertainment District
The Toronto Entertainment District is an area in Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is concentrated around King Street West between University Avenue and Spadina Avenue. It is home to theatres and performing arts centres, Toronto's four major-league sports teams, and an array of cultural and family attractions. The area is also home to most of the nightclubs in Toronto. The officially designated district does not include Yonge Street, where the Elgin/Wintergarden Theatres, Ed Mirvish Theatre, Panasonic Theatre and Massey Hall are located, nor does it include the St. Lawrence Centre or the Sony Centre.
In the first half of the 20th century the area original name of the neighbourhood was the Garment District and was almost wholly industrial. The railways controlled a huge amount of land along the waterfront, and to the north many firms took advantage of the easy access to rail and the harbour. The most important industry was textiles and fashion, and the area had few residents.
With the rise of free trade and deindustrialization, the industries began to leave the area in the 1970s. They left behind an array of historic warehouses and factories that began to be converted to other uses. The most notable arrival to the area were nightclubs. In 1981 the Twilight Zone, Toronto's first large dance club, opened in the area. Other clubs soon followed and by the 1990s, the area became home to one of the largest concentrations of night clubs in North America.
The railway lands to the south were also converted to other uses. The SkyDome opened in 1989, bringing thousands of sports fans to the area. The CN Tower, which opened in 1976, also brought many tourists to the neighbourhood. Along with the nightclubs many bars and restaurants opened to serve these crowds. In 1982 Roy Thomson Hall, home of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, opened at King and Simcoe.
The Mirvish family had bought the historic Royal Alexandra Theatre in 1962. It proved a considerable success and in 1993 they built the new 2000 seat Princess of Wales Theatre a block over. Independent theatre also moved into the area with the Theatre Passe Muraille taking over a former warehouse and the Factory Theatre in a former manse. Toronto has emerged as the world's third-largest centre for English-language theatre, behind only London (West End theatre) and New York (Broadway theatre)."
The Toronto condo boom of the early 21st century began to transform the area in the early 2000s. The abandoned warehouses began to be transformed into lofts, or demolished to make way for condominium towers. The core of the Entertainment District had only 750 residents in 1996, but this had gone up to 7,500 by 2005. The crowds, noise, and occasional crime especially associated with the clubs caused conflict with the new homeowners. However, local councillor Adam Vaughan is doing his best to try to shut down this area for businesses which he has deemed 'inappropriate' or likely to attract the wrong type of crowds. Subsequently, greater restrictions on venues in the area resulted in loss of jobs; by 2011, the number of clubs had decreased substantially.
- Official Website
- Restaurants Guide to Toronto's
- Toronto Entertainment District Residents Association Entertainment District