The St. Lawrence neighbourhood is as old as Toronto itself. In fact the Town of York - the forerunner to the City of Toronto - spanned 10 city blocks that now comprise part of the St. Lawrence neighbourhood. The architecturally significant 19th century Georgian style red and yellow brick buildings that line Front Street harken back to this earlier period. The newer part of the St. Lawrence neighbourhood situated around The Espanade was constructed in the 1970s. These residences contain a nice mix of low rent and subsidized rental accommodation together with co-ops, condominiums and privately owned homes.
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.
The apartment buildings and townhouses in the St. Lawrence neighbourhood were designed by some of Toronto's most accomplished architects. The one consistent feature in these designs is the use of red brick exteriors on all the homes.
Private and non-profit housing, market rental buildings, and luxury condominiums all co-exist here.
The Esplanade, which runs through the middle of the St. Lawrence neighbourhood, contains retail stores and services that meet the day-to-day needs of the St. Lawrence residents. The Esplanade's restaurants, bars, and specialty stores also appeal to tourists as well as Torontonians from other neighbourhoods.
St. Lawrence residents have the luxury of being able to walk to the famous St. Lawrence Market, a food emporium with over 200 vendors again attracting shoppers from near and far. Stroll through this Toronto landmark and be entertained by live performers, enjoy a vast variety of prepared foods, and purchase everything from fresh seafood to farm fresh eggs and organic chicken. Shopping at this market dubbed the best food market in the world by National Geographic is an experience not to be missed. The South Market is open all week long while the North Building, also known as the "Farmers' Market", is open only on Thursdays and Saturdays.
David Crombie Park is a multi-faceted linear park that runs through the centre of the St. Lawrence neighbourhood, along The Esplanade. This park includes pretty strolling and sitting gardens, a waterfall, a handball court, and a basketball court.
The St. Lawrence Community Recreation Centre is located on The Esplanade. This modern facility includes squash courts, a swimming pool, a gymnasium, a piano room, a weight room, and a games room.
Union Station is within walking distance of the St. Lawrence neighbourhood. TTC, Go Transit and Via Rail services operate out of Union station. The Gardiner Expressway, Lake Shore Boulevard and Don Valley Expressway are all conveniently accessed within minutes of the St. Lawrence neighbourhood.