Toronto Tourist Attractions
Toronto (Indian for "meeting place"), capital of the Canadian province of Ontario and the country's leading industrial metropolis, stands on the north-west shore of Lake Ontario.
For quite some time now the city has found itself being swept along by a tidal wave of dynamic development, evidenced by the construction of not only numerous hyper-modern skyscrapers but also the highest television tower in the world and the huge sports arena known as the Rogers Centre. In the last two decades the already highly industrialized conurbation has expanded deeper and deeper into what was once its hinterland. The original relatively small city center is today ringed by a succession of interconnecting fast roads and highways, and one after another new communities spring up along the big main roads leading from the town.HistoryIn 1793 the then Governor of Ontario John Graves Simcoe selected the north side of Toronto Bay for the site of a new settlement, to be laid out on the model of a European city. Christened York and made the capital of Upper Canada, the town was subjected to military attack on a number of occasions in the decades which followed.One such occasion was in the spring of 1813 when a fleet belonging to the now independent United States of America bombarded the town. A number of important buildings were destroyed by fire. In retaliation the British burned down part of the U.S. federal capital Washington.By 1834 the population had risen to almost 10,000 and the burgeoning community on the shores of Lake Ontario was granted civic status. At the same time its name was changed from the English "York" to the Indian "Toronto".The combination of a good road system and its status as provincial capital soon led to a further rapid increase in the city's population and, in particular, economic growth. The harbor was enlarged and numerous industries established. A second wave of industrialization starting at the end of the 19th c. gave a particularly strong boost to the economy. By the turn of the century the population had passed the 200,000 mark.The two World Wars were a further stimulus to Toronto's prosperity. Statistics from the end of the 1950s show as many as 3000 companies with in excess of 120,000 employees. By then the port was handling more than 3500 ships annually, with freight totaling 4 million tonnes/tons.This present century has also seen Toronto develop into a major cultural center. The city has two universities, some excellent colleges and a number of leading theatre companies and orchestras. It is justifiably proud of its fine museums and galleries.EconomyToronto's continuing development has already transformed it economically speaking into by far the most important city in Canada, wielding immense financial influence through its concentration of banks and insurance companies and its stock exchange (the fourth largest in North America). Modern industrial plants and factory units representing a wide range of industries (construction, machine and vehicle manufacture, electronics, chemicals, food processing, textiles, paper manufacture and printing) can be seen all over the city, but especially around the harbor and the airport. The Toronto trade fairs attracts several million visitors every year.Both Toronto's airport and its seaport are of major economic significance, the latter benefiting from its position on the St Lawrence Seaway, the former from being located at an important junction of routes.CityscapeThe old city center, relatively small and rectangular in shape, is laid out on a "grid-iron" pattern. Now known as the "Central Business District" it is bounded by Yonge St. or Church St. (east), Spadina St. (west), Front St. (south) and Bloor St. (north). Two large thoroughfares - Yonge St. and University Ave. (beneath which the city's subway runs) - bisect the CBD from north to south. These are crossed at right angles by several streets and lead to Toronto's main railway station and the harbor. With street by street redevelopment being carried out apace, very few old buildings now remain. The original two-story stone and timber houses, dating from the settlement's earliest days, have almost entirely disappeared. Even the first generation of skyscrapers are today being replaced by taller, more up-to-date blocks. The only old buildings to have survived this apparently insatiable urge for modernization are some of the larger, more splendid and historic edifices such as the railway station, the old City Hall, parts of the old University, one or two venerable buildings housing the provincial government, and a few palatial dynastic family mansions. Many of these lovely old buildings are of course almost submerged in the sea of glass and reinforced concrete, as are numerous aging churches the survival of which is becoming a major cause for concern.
Toronto's Distillery District is a restored historic area that has been turned into a trendy entertainment and shopping district. Visitors will find unique boutiques, galleries, artists studios and restaurants here. The Distillery District also hosts a variety of entertainment events and is home to the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, Soulpepper Theatre Company, George Brown's Theatre School, Dancemakers, Nightwood Theatre and Tapestry Opera.
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