Queen West is the area of Toronto that covers Queen Street West and a series of neighbourhoods which are situated along and around the street. Queen Street West extends east to west form Yonge to the intersection of King Street, Roncesvalles Avenue and The Queensway. Often compared to the Soho district of New York City, Queen West is comprised of a number of very hip neighbourhoods where residents enjoy a lively urban setting.
The street’s debut dates back to 1793 when Royal Engineers first laid out plans for the new city of York, which would later become Toronto in 1834. Queen Street, then known as Lot Street, served as the baseline for the layout.
The area would later serve as a collection of ethnic neighbourhoods occupied by newcomers to Canada. Irish settlers from the early 19th century occupied Claretown located in the section around the intersection of Queen Street West and Bathurst Street. Jewish immigrants took residence in the Ward neighbourhood, situated between Yonge and University Avenue, during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Chinese, Polish and Ukrainian immigrants also settled in the area during the mid 1900’s.
Today, Queen West is a shopping hub frequented by style-conscious shoppers for its multitude of large chain stores, as well as upscale and trendy boutiques. One such shopping haven is the Eaton Centre on Yonge and Queen. Considered to be Canada’s premier shopping destination for both locals and out-of-towners, the mall is comprised of over 230 retailers including Eddie Bauer, Aldo, The Gap, Swarovski, Banana Republic for men and women, Bentley, Le Chateau and many more.
Across the street on the other side of Queen is The Bay, a chain of department stores that offer an extensive selection of brand name items from fashion and beauty to household products.
The area knows no shortage of cafes, bakeries, deli shops, restaurants, pubs, clubs, movie theatres, hair salons and spas, art galleries and more. Queen West is teaming with life and serves as a hangout for artists and musicians.
Over the last few decades as Queen West’s popularity began to grow tremendously, low-rise condo structures began to emerge in the area. Many of the old manufacturing buildings were converted into authentic loft condominiums adding even more charm to the neighbourhood. Such conversions include the Candy Factory Lofts on 993 Queen Street West and the Chocolate Factory Lofts just a few steps over on 955 Queen Street West. There are also soaring, modern residential towers such the Bohemian Embassy, on 1169 Queen Street West, which stands 19 stories high.
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