Toronto Neighbourhood Guide

Downtown

Bay Street Corridor

History of Bay Street Corridor

The area now referred to as the Bay Street corridor was formerly known as St.John’s Ward, a municipal ward of the City of Toronto. Later this area simply became known as “The Ward”.

The Ward was populated largely by Jewish immigrants fleeing Eastern Europe in the 1890s. Subsequently other immigrant populations most notably Italians also settled in The Ward. As these first immigrants groups became more established they left the squalor of The Ward and headed west to neighbourhoods like Kensington Market and Little Italy. The Jews and Italians were replaced by Chinese immigrants. In the 1950s the construction of the New City Hall led to the expropriation of most of the homes in The Ward which led to the subsequent relocation of many residents to Spadina Avenue in what is now Toronto’s Chinatown district.

The Bay Street Corridor has been a prominent location in Toronto since 1827 with the founding of Kings 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 Department store opened their College Park location at Yonge and College Streets. By the time the new Toronto City Hall opened in 1965, The Ward neighbourhood had completely given way to the aforementioned Toronto landmarks. A residential renaissance of this neighbourhood began in the 1990s with a condo construction boom along the Bay Street corridor. This condo boom has continued to this day with numerous high-rise building already completed or under construction. These luxury condo towers are a far cry from the former shacks of The Ward which is now just a footnote in the history books of Toronto.

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