Little Italy

Little Italy
Little Italy is a chic and trendy Toronto district with a touch of European Flavour. Bound by Dundas Street to the south, Harbord Street to the north, Bathurst Street to the east, and Dovercourt Road to the west, the area is centered on College Street, and is just one of a few Italian neighbourhoods in the city; it is, however, the most popular. 

Italian immigrants began arriving in the city in the beginning of the 20th century and took on work in the construction industry and on the railways. They first made their homes in the Ward neighbourhood, near the intersection of Queen and Bay streets, and in West Toronto Junction, around the intersection of Dundas and Keele streets, where living conditions weren’t very stellar. 

By the 1920’s, they began populating the district now known as little Italy which was originally inhabited by Canadians of Anglo-Saxon descent, who were seeking to move out of the downtown area and into the suburbs. Shortly after, Italian establishments began to sprout along College Street.

Beginning in the 1960’s, Italian families started to move out of Little Italy and into other areas of the city, notably the Corso Italia district located on St. Clair Avenue West and Dufferin Street. Newly vacated homes began to be populated by immigrants from Portugal, Spain, China and Vietnam, creating a mélange of cultures that makes Little Italy a unique part of town.

And although Little Italy is, in the most part, no longer occupied by Canadians of Italian descent, the neighbourhood continues to carry on the name as homage to the Italian immigrants who made it what it is today. 

Currently, Little Italy is mainly comprised of early 20th century semi-detached homes with a concentration of restaurants, bars, cafes, pool halls, nightclubs, and shopping centres along College Street, where residents enjoy a very lively environment and a vibrant nightlife; especially on weekends and during the spring and summer months. 

Over the last few decades, Little Italy became very popular with young professionals who continue to purchase residences in the neighbourhood. In fact, the area’s popularity has begun to permeate its neighboring districts to the west where many establishments of the same style, such as cafes and trendy bistros, are beginning to emerge.

The district is also home to a number of landmarks which include the Mod Club Theatre, the Church of St. Mary Magdalene, the Central Commerce Collegiate, the Orbit Room, and the Portuguese Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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