Toronto Neighbourhood Guide

Downtown

St Lawrence

History of St Lawrence

This is where Toronto's first government, industry and commercial centres were located. Numerous important histroical buildings are still standing on the periphery of the neighbourhood including: the South St. Lawrence Market which served as Toronto's first City Hall, the North St. Lawrence Market which was Toronto's first official farmers market, the iconic Gooderham Flat Iron building which was the offices for the Gooderham financial empire, the King Edward Hotel designed by E.J. Lennox the architect of Casa Loma, St. James Cathedral which has the tallest spire in Canada, and St. Lawrence Hall which was the cultural and social centre of early Toronto.

Much of the present day St. Lawrence neighbourhood was created from landfill in the early 1800's. It was originally intended to serve as a public promenade with a grand Esplanade along the waterfront. However the city turned the land over to the railways, which in turn attracted industry to the St. Lawrence area.

By the early 1900's, St. Lawrence had become one of Toronto's most prominent industrial centres. It remained a vital industrial area until the late 1940's, when Toronto's industrial base began moving outside of the city.

Consequently, St. Lawrence went into a period of decline which lasted until the 1970's, when Toronto politicians made the decision to create the present day St. Lawrence neighbourhood.

 

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