As TORONTO neighbourhoods go, YORKVILLE has a long history – dating back to 1830 when it began as a residential suburb. The little village was annexed by the city on February 1, 1883. Its character has remained steadfast to the present day, with a break in the 1960’s when Yorkville became Canada’s bohemian cultural centre.
Some of this country’s top talents – Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Murray Mclauchlan, and Neil Young among others – played in Yorkville Avenue coffee houses, including the Penny Farthing, Mynah Bird and the Riverboat.
This “festering sore in the middle of the city”, according to a provincial MPP, saw more than its share of late-night rowdiness, police raids, misspent youth, long hair, drug dealing, hosteling, and rockin’ good times.
Some vestiges of old Yorkville remain on Bishop, Scollard and New Streets, but many of the old structures have been thoroughly gentrified and sell in the millions. The village is surrounded on all sides by expensive condos, with several more on the way.
You can do Yorkville on the cheap by window shopping, exploring the lanes and parks, visiting galleries, drinking superb coffee, and people watching and dining on a patio. As a neighbourhood, it’s rich – but welcoming. On-street parking is at a premium.
<PHOTO ABOVE – Yorkville Avenue on a spring afternoon in 1970>