[colored_box color=”blue”]Comprised of more than 350 shops, restaurants, and services the Danforth is a destination neighbourhood for delicious food, entertaining theatre, lively pubs, distinctive retailers and cafés.[/colored_box]
Danforth Avenue was named after Asa Danforth, an American contractor who was commissioned in 1799 to cut the Danforth, but he actually didn’t build it. That task was completed by the Don and Danforth Plank Rd. Company in 1851. Danforth Ave is remembered as a dusty country road, a bi-way that ran through open fields, market gardens, brickyards, past houses, churches and the occasional hotel or roadhouse.
The single most important event in the Danforth’s history came in 1919 with the completion of the Bloor Viaduct Bridge over the Don Valley, connecting the Danforth area to the rest of the city via Bloor Street. This marked the beginning of a population surge, and greater access to Danforth Avenue businesses.
The Danforth’s rich history can be seen all around the area, with many local historic attractions. Here are a few of the notables:
Playter Farmhouse – 28 Playter Crescent.
The Playter family was among the earliest settlers in Toronto. Captain George Playter, a Loyalist officer, was granted several lots and built a farm on the river meadows on the west side of the Don in the mid 1870s. The decorative “white” brick patterns of the farmhouse can still be seen from the Danforth when you look north on Playter Crescent.
The Playter Society Building – 757 Broadview Ave.
This was the first commercial and social centre for the district. Stores occupied the bottom floor, dentist and doctors on the second, and the third was used for meetings of association, societies, parties, and of course bingo games. The Playter Society Building became the east end place to dance nightly to big name bands in the 1920s through to the 1940s.
Allen’s Danforth Theatre (Danforth Music Hall) – 147 Danforth Ave.
The Danforth Music Hall was one of ten playhouses constructed in Toronto following the First World War in 1919. It was designed to provide artistic and comfortable surroundings. The exterior architecture features of the building are still visible to date.
In the early 1970s, Canada welcomed thousands of Greek immigrants to her shores and many flocked to the Danforth area. As a tribute to the large Hellenic population in this area, the Business Improvement Area voted to change the name to Greektown on the Danforth, which also happens to be the largest Hellenic business community in North America.
Now, it would be ridiculous to talk about the Danforth and not mention the one event that has really put the it on the map; that is of course the Taste of the Danforth — the largest Greek festival in the world outside of Greece. This annual event is now in its 17th year and is considered Toronto’s most popular food and street festival, attracting over a million of visitors with snacks, wine, beer, and live entertainment. The event takes place August 6th – 8th, and is held in the Greektown area along Danforth Ave, from Broadview Ave to Jones Ave. This is an event that shouldn’t be missed, so come on out for a “taste of the Danforth” — how can millions of people be wrong?