The East End used to be the most easterly portion of old city of Toronto before it amalgamated with its immediate suburbs in 1998. (Scarborough is now the most easterly portion of today’s Toronto.)
The East End is made up of various districts or neighbourhoods such as Greektown, Leslieville, Riverside District Gerard Indian Bazaar & The Beach. It’s a varied, vibrant part of town. Although largely residential, the East End is defined by commercial districts with an interesting mix of small shops, restaurants and bars along its major thoroughfares (Queen St. East, Gerrard St. East, Danforth Ave.), where the majority of the attractions are located, and the residential streets where most of the neighbourhood’s residents live. These residential streets are quiet and shaded by old oaks and maples, and contain old homes and townhouses of an astonishing variety of architectural styles.
Embedded within these residential streets are a number of large parks, including Riverdale Park, with its breathtaking view of the skyline, Withrow Park, Greenwood Park, Jimmie Simpson Park, Kew Gardens, Beaches Park, and countless smaller neighbourhood parks.
The main throughfare of the East End is Danforth Ave (locally called The Danforth) of which the most lively stretch lies between Broadview Ave. and Jones Ave. Between those two streets, there are two retail business areas. The area west of Chester Ave (and Chester Subway Station) has been branded “The Danforth” by the local merchants while the area east of Chester Ave is the more lively Greektown. However, from a visitor point of view, it is one continuous district, full of restaurants, bars, cafes, and shops with a greater concentration of Greek businesses in Greektown, which has the largest Greek community in North America. The combined area attracts residents and non-residents alike creating a busy, bustling, vibrant place, especially on summer weekends. In August, the 2-day Taste of the Danforth festival brings over one million participants to the neighbourhood to fill The Danforth, which is closed off to traffic.
Along Queen Street East in the East End there are 3 other districts all having a mix of small shops, restaurants and bars. They are, from west to east, Riverside District (at Broadview Ave.), Leslieville (between Logan Ave. and Leslie Street) and the very popular Beach district (between Woodbine Ave. and Neville Park Boulevard).
Riverside District is a small shopping/restaurant district with some attractive old buildings such as the Queen/Saulter library building. The Broadview Hotel, an 1891 landmark in the district, is being renovated and converted into a boutique hotel which will open in 2017. This district was once used as a movie set for the film Cinderella Man.
In Leslieville, an enormous revitalization effort has been under way, transforming an area once known for its booze-cans, cheap diners, and tacky furniture shops into one of the hippest up-and-coming areas in the city. A plethora of new restaurants, eateries, bars, bakeries and shops have made this a real gastronomic destination, and since it has been the centre of Toronto’s film industry for years, the Queen East has finally reached a tipping point, drawing in hip, young, upwardly mobile people from all over the GTA, transforming the area from a low-rent backwater into a trendsetter reminiscent of Queen West in the early 90’s.
Further east on Queen Street, past Woodbine Ave., the long-established Beach neighbourhood (a.k.a The Beaches) attracts thousands of visitors during the summer, who dine and drink in its restaurants and bars, walk the boardwalk by the lake, sunbathe on the sand beach, bring the kids to the park at Kew Gardens, or walk around the residential streets with their unique homes and laid-back atmosphere.
These are not the only attractions the East End has to offer: there’s also Chinatown East radiating from the intersection of Gerrard Street and Broadview Avenue , a smaller, quieter version of Spadina’s Chinatown with many fresh food markets and restaurants; Gerrard India Bazaar (a.k.a. Little India) on Gerrard between Greenwood and Woodbine is especially lively in the summertime when South Asians from all over the GTA descend on the neighbourhood to catch a Bollywood flick at one of the only Bollywood movie theatres in the city, enjoy barbecued corn on the street, chew paan purchased from one of the specialized vendors, browse the many shops, jewelry stores, and sari boutiques, or eat in one of a number of South Asian restaurants.
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