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Where's the Entertainment District in Toronto?

This is a question a lot of Torontonians are asking, just as much as the stars.

Unless your weekends regularly include trips downtown, it is understandable that many residents don’t know exactly where it is.

Have you ever been to Bell Lightbox? Well, that’s the centre of it and the base location for TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival). Not only is TIFF on the Oscar horizon, it is now considered to be one of the best film festivals in the world.

The entertainment district was originally the “garment district” until the 1970’s. This was the place were clothes were made. Gradually, the area become far too expensive to host manufacturing, and soon gave way to theatres, restaurants, cafes, and nightclubs. There’s still lots of room for growth. 

The boundaries are generally Richmond Street to the north, University Avenue to the east, the Gardiner Expressway to the south, and Spadina Avenue to the west. However, it’s somewhat irregular and includes the royal York Hotel but excludes most of the south side of Queen Street West. You might want to have a look at a map:

You will notice from the map that the Royal York Hotel is in, as is the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts at the southeast corner of Queen and University. The new Shangri-La Hotel on the east side of University is included, but the Hilton across the street and just south of the Four Seasons is not.

When drawing a map for the “entertainment district” both the Rogers Centre (formerly, the SkyDome) and the CN Tower were included. You will notice that the area was enlarged to accomodate the Air Canada Centre.

Central to the entertainment district are the Mirvish theatres on King Street, the Royal Alexandra and the Princess of Wales. In fact, the growth really started when Ed Mirvish built his restaurants for the theatre patrons on King Street. It was only then, that you could combine “dinner and theatre” in Toronto’s downtown.

Also included are the Metro Convention Centre, CBC, CTV and the Roy Thomson Hall.

Bell Lightbox is a 46 storey mixed use commercial and residential building at the northwest corner of John and King Streets. It houses the head offices of TIFF. So naturally, it is the hub and the centre of the universe when TIFF is underway.

While the action may have moved south to the entertainment district for the festival, it is evident that many of the stars who preferred Hazelton Lanes, the Four Seasons Hotel, and the Park Hyatt in the Yorkville area will still be seen shopping along the Bloor Street fashion mile (Canada’s Fifth Avenue).

So, who’s in town this year? You might come across Bruce Willis, Will Smith, Colin Firth, Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Ben Affleck, Kristen Stewart, Justin Bieber, Zac Efron, Gywneth Paltrow, Pierce Brosnan, Rachel McAdam, Jude Law, Hugh Grant, Colin Farrell, Ewan McGregor, Selena Gomez, Ryan Gosling, Christopher Walken, Tom Hanks, William H.Macy, Johnny Depp, Adam Sandler, Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Halle Berry, Dustin Hoffman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Susan Saradon, David Spade, John Goodman, Selma Hayek, Kirsten Dunst and Robert Redford.

They all have to eat, so good luck star-gazing at the local restaurants!

Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker is a Manager at RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage 416-745-2300.