travel

Toronto - Around Town - Downtown (part 1)

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Toronto is a city of neighborhoods, each with a distinct identity, many with an ethnic flavor, making it the most multicultural of North American cities. In Chinatown, wares from energetic vendors compete with shoppers for sidewalk space, and restaurants offer everything from take-out buns to sit-down banquets. The city’s multicultural mix finds its fullest expression in Kensington Market, where Jamaican patty shops rub shoulders with Portuguese fish vendors and Latin American empanada stalls. Farther west is the Italian enclave of Little Italy, centered along College Street. Along with this heady ethnic mix, the downtown core is home to the upscale shopping area Yorkville and many fine cultural institutions, such as the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Natural Air Conditioning

During the hot and humid days of a Toronto summer, Lake Ontario water does double duty. An innovative new project utilizes the cold temperature of deep lake water – from intake pipes 3 miles (5 km) out from shore, and 270 ft (83 m) deep – to provide chilled energy for air conditioning Toronto’s downtown high-rises and large facilities such as the Air Canada Centre. After the transfer of energy, the water is returned not to the lake but to the city’s water supply system, where it serves another crucial cooling function – as drinking water.



Sights
  1. Eaton Centre

    While it might seem strange that a shopping center is the city’s most popular tourist attraction – according to the numbers, at any rate – this retail complex is simply a popular place to shop, meet, hang out, and people-watch. (Crowds of boisterous teenagers attest to this fact.) Its massive size – more than 300 stores – ensures that you can find practically anything you would want to buy here. Numerous restaurants, fast-food counters, and specialty treat shops round out the bill .

    Atrium, Eaton Centre
  2. Art Gallery of Ontario

    Particularly strong in historical and contemporary Canadian works, and host to important exhibitions, this is one of the country’s top art galleries.

  3. Kensington Market

    This funky neighborhood, in a small pocket west of Spadina, is the heart of multicultural Toronto – a place where vendors from almost every corner of the globe have set up shop. Spilling out into the narrow sidewalks are stores selling an array of fruits, vegetables, and bulk dry goods, while music blasts from open doors and loudspeakers. Pedestrians jostle with cyclists and traffic moves at a snail’s pace, everyone vying for their inch of street space, particularly on Saturdays when the area is at its liveliest best. Leave the car behind and wander through the streets, soaking up the atmosphere, perhaps checking out the price of live lobster at a fish vendor’s or browsing through trinkets and secondhand clothes in the many eclectic stores at the south end of Kensington Avenue .

    Kensington Market
  4. Chinatown

    A steady flow of new Chinese immigrants keeps Toronto’s main Chinatown one of the most vibrant in North America. Hundreds of authentic restaurants cater to all tastes and budgets, and there are countless shops selling Oriental wares. In recent years, Spadina Avenue has expanded to include many Vietnamese shops and restaurants .

    Chinatown
  5. Yorkville

    In the 1960s, it was ground zero for hippies and the youth culture; today, this neighborhood is ground zero for establishment culture and the city’s most upscale shopping. Expensive shops on Cumberland St and Yorkville Ave, between Bay St and Avenue Rd, sell luxury goods such as cosmetics, jewelry, designer fashions, antiques, and leather luggage. The area’s numerous restaurants and bars cater to equally refined palates and wallets. There are also more than 20 fine-art galleries in the area, exhibiting some of the country’s top names. Sidewalk cafés provide stylish perches for people-watching .

    Yorkville
  6. Casa Loma

    Styled like a medieval castle, this grand mansion is a monument to the singular tastes and vision of Sir Henry Pellatt, a prominent financier who in 1911 commissioned renowned architect E. J. Lennox to build him a home. This immense architectural undertaking was on a scale never before seen in a private Canadian residence, with plans for 98 rooms, 12 baths, 5,000 electric lights, and an elevator. Its $3.5 million cost helped bankrupt Sir Henry less than 10 years after he and his wife moved in, but its opulence remains evident in the extravagant, restored rooms and furnishings.

  7. Bata Shoe Museum

    This unusual, specialized museum celebrates footwear form and function throughout the ages and around the world. The building’s playful design, echoing a stylized shoebox, houses four galleries exhibiting everything from Roman sandals to Elton John’s platform boots. The exhibit of Chinese bound-foot shoes is not for the squeamish. Founded by Sonia Bata, who has scoured the world for shoes of every description, the museum also holds interesting themed exhibitions .

    • 327 Bloor St W

    • Open 10am–5pm Tue, Wed, Fri–Sat, 10am–8pm Thu, noon–5pm Sun (open Mon Jun–Aug)

    • Adm

    Bata Shoe Museum
  8. Campbell House

    The oldest remaining building from the town of York, which in 1834 became Toronto, this Georgian mansion was built in 1822 for William Campbell, an Upper Canada judge. In 1972, the 300-ton building was moved from its original location on Adelaide St to its present location, restored, and opened to the public. Guided tours are available.

    • 160 Queen St W

    • Open Victoria Day–Thanksgiving: 9:30am–4:30pm Mon–Fri, noon–4:30pm Sat–Sun; Thanksgiving–Victoria Day: 9:30am–4:30pm Mon–Fri

    • Adm

    Campbell House
  9. City Hall

    When first opened in 1965, the result of an international design competition won by Finnish architect Viljo Revell, this building was highly controversial. The two curving towers caused an uproar and possibly even led to the then mayor losing an election. The building has since become a prized landmark of the city, and the central plaza, Nathan Phillips Square, an animated symbol of civic life – a place for political demonstrations, winter ice skating, a summer farmers’ market, outdoor concerts, and celebrations. Inside are murals and other fabulous artworks .

    City Hall
  10. Royal Ontario Museum

    Canada’s premiere museum has more than six million artifacts showcasing art, archeology, science, and nature .

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