In the City of Toronto, we're in the midst of a new era. A dawn, an awakening of sorts, as we watch our once small city become all grown up. The City's landscapes are ever-changing, as gentrification causes it to constantly reinvent itself.
Take Roncesvalles, or "Roncey" as it's affectionately called today. Once known as the Polish cultural centre of Toronto's universe, today its grown into much more than that . Though you still see " Mówimy Po Polsku" (We Speak Polish) signs in the delis and shops north of the corner where King meets Queen, it's now a place where 30 something couples seek out grand Victorian homes to start their families. Where a few young hipsters seek out cool eclectic converted lofts to rent. Where you can step into a café and find yourself entranced by a group of elderly men speaking what sounds like Polish, but could easily be another one of the Slavic languages spoken in our linguistically diverse city. It's where you realize that you're surrounded by a fused version of a neighbourhood where old meets new.
Walk south of Roncey and note the large Victorian mansions that line the southern streets of Parkdale. Once lived in by the City's politicians and prominent families many have been converted into multi-residential apartments providing affordable housing for singles and families. A few blocks north and you've landed on the west side of what is arguably Toronto's coolest neighbourhood, where you're willing to line up around the block for a taco at a the new neighbourhood favourite Grand Electric, or a night out with old faithful at Stone's Place. Not more than 5 years back parents would warn their kids to stay away from Parkdale, a dangerous place as they knew it. But the downtowners of today, having a new acquaintance with the neighbourhood find it simply irresistible.
Head further north east and pass through the tiny strip on Harbord Street on a Saturday night and you'll find yourself gazing into swanky restaurant windows, observing 40 something cultured sophisticates, harmoniously clinking glasses of fine Syrah, discussing the latest refuge of exemplary art. Across the street at The Roxton, a laid back crowd sips on a pint of Mill Street Organic whilst singing to the backtrack of Bob Dylan tunes wailing from the speakers.
Much in the same way that real estate contributes to the birth of new neighbourhoods, so too does it lead to the ushering out of others. The onset of the construction of several different high rise condo projects along the once popular Richmond Street club strip is upon us, taking with it the slew of nightclubs that once lined it. Just how the residences that shall replace this space will define the new neighbourhood has yet to be seen.
Toronto. The City you thought you knew. An urban cosmopolitan hearth with neighbourhoods that will satiate any palate no matter which way you turn, or which generation you’re from. With landscapes that are ever-changing, the City is constantly reinventing itself. Where the glass condos of the 90s have become the boutique midrise modern loft spaces of today, to work, live and play. Where property developers sit on the sidelines studying the city's population before making their next move, noting the ways in which each neighbourhood is colourfully painted with its own unique flair. This is Toronto, the ever-evolutionary city.