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Toronto Neighbourhoods

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A little fluffy, but somewhat interesting. I found the map (linked below) most intriguing.


We define ourselves by our neighbourhoods

But even with the NIMBYism, no one would doubt they provide the organizational unit that has kept Toronto from spiralling out of control

Aug 30, 2009 04:30 AM

Christopher Hume

Toronto has always been a city of neighbourhoods, but who knew just how many neighbourhoods?

Until the Star set out to map all 239 of them, it was anybody's guess. Of course, everyone's heard of Cabbagetown, the Annex, Riverdale and Parkdale, Jane-Finch and Malvern. But where does one neighbourhood begin and the next begin?

Not that that's the most important thing; the fact is that it was the neighbourhoods that kept Toronto from the fate doled out in so many North American cities in the 1950s, '60s and '70s when suburban sprawl began in earnest.

In a city obsessed with real estate and the price of housing, the neighbourhood sits at the heart of what it means to be a Torontonian. It's not that neighbourhoods don't change; they do. Think of Cabbagetown, which until 35 or 40 years ago was not the kind of place that attracted nice middle-class families. Today, only the rich need apply. Even Riverdale, once a blue-collar bastion, is now too expensive for many. The same process is unfolding in Parkdale.

But for all the problems of the NIMBY hordes, no one would doubt that the neighbourhood provides the basic organizational unit that has kept Toronto from spiralling out of control. When urban theorist Jane Jacobs moved here in the 1960s from New York, where she had taken on and beaten uber-builder Robert Moses, she immediately found herself embroiled in the fight to stop the Spadina Expressway. It was the residents in her adopted neighbourhood, the Annex, and others who coalesced into the group that succeeded in killing the urban highway.

As Bill Davis, then premier of Ontario, so eloquently put it: "If we are building a transportation system to serve the automobile, the Spadina Expressway would be a good place to start. But if we are building a transportation system to serve people, the Spadina Expressway is a good place to stop."

Almost four decades later, however, we hear the residents of North Toronto complaining about a proposal to shut the fifth, reversible, lane on Jarvis St., which has become a convenient route into the downtown core for those in the area.

In the zero-sum game that is the city, one neighbourhood's loss is another's gain. Except, of course, that the city isn't a zero-sum game. In fact, though some might find themselves inconvenienced, we're all in the same urban boat.

If nothing else, the Star's neighbourhood map makes it clear that we are all connected; one neighbourhood leads into the next, as often as not seamlessly, even imperceptibly. The divisions, though sometimes hard and fast, can also be psychological and emotional.

Neighbourhoods can be established and stable and still be in a constant state of change. Like the city of which they are a part, neighbourhoods are always in transition.

Though we find change threatening, it cannot be stopped. Indeed, the names of so many Toronto neighbourhoods are little more than memories, all that remains of towns, villages, boroughs, train stops that long ago disappeared.

Yorkville, for example, was once a place apart from Toronto. So were Forest Hill, Swansea and Davisville. The list goes on.

If the names of some neighbourhoods are a record of history, others reflect changes that have occurred in modern times. Some neighbourhoods are defined by their physical boundaries, others by the communities that inhabit them. In a few cases – South Riverdale and Chinatown East come to mind – the two overlap.

But in the end the most important thing about any of these neighbourhoods is that they are part of something much larger – Toronto. Ultimately, it is the city that gives them life, meaning and relevance, and that makes them places we choose (or not) to live. It is the city that makes them possible.

Source

Map of Toronto neighbourhoods (zoomable)

http://www3.thestar.com/static/googlemaps/starmaps.html?xml=090120_shapetool_neigbourhoods.xml
 
Interesting. I always thought Willowdale specifically refers to the area bounded by Yonge, Bayview, Finch and Sheppard. The map extends it to the 401, and past Bathurst near Finch.

It's interesting to see names that I've never heard of, like Tarragon village and Regal Heights. I wonder how historic/made up some of these names are.
 
It's interesting to see names that I've never heard of, like Tarragon village and Regal Heights. I wonder how historic/made up some of these names are.

I noted the same thing which is why I thought it would be good to link the map in with the article.
 
One of my recent projects has been creating neighbourhood maps for all of the Wikipedia article on Toronto's neighbourhoods. You can see the ones I've done so far here. It is hard since the boundaries of many neighbourhoods are very fuzzy.
 
Interesting. I always thought Willowdale specifically refers to the area bounded by Yonge, Bayview, Finch and Sheppard. The map extends it to the 401, and past Bathurst near Finch.
I know Willowdale is a valid mailing address east to Leslie (and maybe right to the Scarborough border at V.P.), so don't take that map as gospel.
 
If we were to go by erstwhile "valid mailing addresses", then we'd have no more than 10-20 "neighbourhoods" in the former boroughs...
 
Canada Post does have a list of neighbourhoods that they recognize. You can see them all list on this page. Does anyone know if Canada Post has a map depicting these areas?
 
One of my recent projects has been creating neighbourhood maps for all of the Wikipedia article on Toronto's neighbourhoods. You can see the ones I've done so far here. It is hard since the boundaries of many neighbourhoods are very fuzzy.

Interesting that you should say that, since my own neighbourhood is undergoing a "naming process" right now. The group leading this is called Fuzzy Boundaries.
 
For TOBuilt, I needed to develop a map that included the entire area of Toronto divided into neighbourhoods, not just those that were primarily residential, but something encompassing the entire breadth of the city. It wasn't easy and there is no "official" source that does anything like that.

The Toronto Star's effort is interesting and laudable - but they really also had no interest or reason to say "no" to very many neighbourhood requests, so I find the may a trifle overburdened with neighbourhoods that none of us have ever heard of.

Even having said this, though, there are several big gaps in residential areas on the map, which I don't understand. What I call Fisherville (and the city does, too), and what on Google seems to be Rockford Park, is nothing on the Toronto map. Why would that be? It would have been easy enough to call it something. Similarly, if you live in the Financial District, on one of the condos on upper Bay, in the Entertainment District or in Maple Leaf Square, you also don't live anywhere, according to the Star. Some of these would rather have been easy to add to the map, but others are difficult - "Entertainment District" is well known, though what to call the neighbourhood along upper Bay is quite vexing. Still, I wonder why they wouldn't have tackled these more difficult areas - it's a lot of residents left hanging.

I don't understand why North York Centre is not there - who, standing outside North York Civic Centre feels that they are in Willowdale? Historically, it may have been, but currently, there's a mostly easily demarcated area called North York Centre - why not use this?

There's also a very large chunk of residential spread up near Jane & Finch that is mysteriously absent from their map.

Finally, East York under the river is just "East York", a name that is confusing because it doesn't really demarcate it from the former city. There are several potential ways to break that into bits, like "Pape Village" etc.

But I know how hard it is to do this and so I don't really fault them for it. I'd rather the city develop something "official" that includes the entire area of the city, but if the Star wants to play, well, it's all in fun.
 
My driver's license lists "Islington". I recently had to get it renewed and the lady asked me if I wanted my new one to say Etobicoke or Toronto instead. Seeing how Etobicoke no longer exists as a political entity and the fact that I'm not at all enamored to be a resident of it, I gladly chose Toronto.
 
...
The Toronto Star's effort is interesting and laudable - but they really also had no interest or reason to say "no" to very many neighbourhood requests, so I find the may a trifle overburdened with neighbourhoods that none of us have ever heard of.
...

But they do say no. Back around March of this year, I was exchanging e-mails with someone named Ken K. who was working on this neighbourhood map project and I had argued that it was inconsistent that Little Italy around College/Clinton is a listed neighbourhood while Chinatown around Spadina/Dundas is absent. Instead, this Chinatown area is called Grange Park with overlap to into Kensington. Ken argued that Chinatown is not a neighbourhood because it's primarily commercial and Little Italy is residential. I responded there were lots of Chinese immigrants, including people I know, who lived or once lived in Chinatown so what he said was not true.

And I also mention, then, what about Kensington or St. Lawrence (Market)? People know these areas as being largely commercial. But then he said that "people in the Star newsroom will tell you they live in St. Lawrence or Kensington." So apparently their decision as to what is a neighbourhood is based as least partly on where people in the newsroom lived and it would seem none of them lived in Chinatown.

I agree that it's laudable that Torstar is doing this, but when a neighbourhood such as Chinatown that people lived, played in and visited for decades (not unlike Little Italy) and is known by everyone I know of as Chinatown is written off as a neighbourhood, then it becomes less laudable, IMHO.
 
Just be aware the neighbourhoods are defined very differently by the city.

The City has never "defined" its neighbourhoods. The city website does contain a neighbourhood map, but it's not official, and the text that accompanies makes clear that it is not intended to be definitive and was created for discrete purposes related to social services.

So, just like the Toronto Star map, it's one interpretation of neighbourhood boundaries.
 
I couldn't find any neighbourhood maps that I like, so I decided to create my own using google maps. I find that the Toronto Star map has too many names that either nobody has ever heard of or are no longer used, while as the same time leaving large swaths of the city unlabelled. Meanwhile the city's list of neighbourhoods has its own issues. I mean, who the heck says I live in "Dovercourt-Wallace Emerson-Junction", "Downsview-Roding-CFB" or "Englemount-Lawrence", and since when was Yorkville part of the Annex?

Anyways, here's my best attempt at it. I relied mostly on google maps and a bit of help from wikipedia to determine the names and boundaries. In some cases there was some ambiguity or overlapping of boundaries, so I had to apply my own judgement on where to draw the line. For places like Koreatown, Bloor West Village, Greektown, Pape Village, etc, these are not actually neighbourhoods but are shopping districts that are part of a neighbourhood, however I included them anyway.

Lemme know what you guys think.

Link: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=z_jWlQ3EOA2c.kWtESZtJRgWk&usp=sharing

Screen shot 2015-06-30 at 12.59.04 AM.png
 

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