The West End of Toronto is bounded roughly by Bathurst Street to the east, St. Clair Avenue to the north, the Humber River to the west, and Lake Ontario to the south. The West End covers a vast swath of Toronto and includes ethnic enclaves and quiet, residential neighbourhoods inhabited largely by recent immigrants to Canada. In recent years, the West End has undergone explosive growth and gentrification, and is quickly becoming one of the hottest areas in the city in which to live.
The neighbourhoods of the West End are some of the most diverse in the city, owing largely to its significant immigrant population. Travelling west along the 506 College streetcar from the downtown core takes you through some of the city's most colourful and unique neighbourhoods. From the early 1900s, Italian immigrants who worked in railroad and road construction began buying up affordable Edwardian-style homes and opening up shops along College Street, in the area now known as Little Italy. Recently, the neighbourhood has become popular with young professionals because of its great restaurants and cafes, vibrant nightlife, and proximity to the downtown core. More recent Italian immigrants have chosen to settle a little farther north, along St. Clair Avenue, in an area known as Corso Italia. Further west along College from Little Italy is Little Portugal, which is the best place to find an authentic churrascaria in the city. Keep going west and, before long, you'll come across Roncesvalles Village, named after a valley in northern Spain, which, oddly enough, is the heart of the city's Polish community. After you've tired yourself out from all the culinary delights you've tasted along the way, you can take the streetcar to the end of the line — High Park — Toronto's very own Central Park.
The trip along the 501 Queen streetcar from the downtown core is a little different. It's almost a lesson in gentrification and urban renewal, as it travels through some of the city's formerly derelict neighbourhoods that have, in recent years, become its most trendy locales. Extending westward is the ultra-hip West Queen West neighbourhood, a derelict industrial area that has recently been revitalized and turned into lofts, home to many of Toronto's young artists and musicians. The area is home to many of the city's hottest bars, lounges and cafes, including the ever-popular Drake and Gladstone Hotels. As renters are being priced out, West Queen West is quickly merging into neighbouring Parkdale, a notoriously crime-ridden part of town that is becoming the new "it" neighbourhood, with its antique shops and quaint Victorian-style homes.
On the north end of High Park you'll find The Junction, so named because of the railroad lines that meet in this neighbourhood. To the west of the Junction lies Bloor West Village, a residential area that's popular with young professionals and new families.
The West End is served by the Bloor-Danforth subway line. Dundas West station is a major transit hub for the area, providing connections to streetcar lines, buses, and GO Transit commuter trains at the Bloor GO station.
The 504 King route runs along King Street, through Parkdale's southern edge, and north through Roncesvalles Village to the Dundas West subway station.
The 505 Dundas route serves Little Portugal / Little Brazil and connects to the Dundas West subway station.
The 501 Queen route runs along Queen Street, through Parkdale, and onward along the Queensway and Lakeshore Boulevard West to the villages of Mimico and Long Branch.
Go Transit operates a service primarily aimed at commuters, with all its train lines travelling radially out of Union Station in downtown Toronto. It is a good choice if you want to travel to Union station, or towards one of the outlying suburbs.
Go Transit runs commuter trains on three train lines through West Toronto: the Georgetown line has stops at Bloor (near Dundas West TTC), Weston, and Etobicoke North; the Milton line, which has service in one direction each during morning and evening commtes, stops at Kipling; and the Lakeshore West line stops at Exhibition, Mimico, and Long Branch.
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