Detail of illustration by Sasha Plotnikova/Torontoist.
Where’s the heart of Toronto?
For the bulk of the summer, we kept our eyes on Craigslist’s new home and apartment rental listings, regularly searching in descriptions and titles for places described by whoever was writing the listing as being in “the heart of Toronto” or “the heart of the city,” the kind of wishy-washy, mostly subjective real-estate phrase that’s easier to lay claim to than it is to refute—like “walking distance from shopping,” but a much bigger deal for civic pride. Two hundred listings later, here’s what we discovered.
Illustration by Sasha Plotnikova/Torontoist.
Congratulations to those of you living along the lake, near basically any downtown or Yonge Line subway station, or almost anywhere in the section of Toronto bordered by Spadina, Bloor, and Jarvis: according to those people hunting for renters on Craigslist, your areas are the ones in which the city’s heart is most frequently found. But that’s far from being it. The farthest west listing was at Weston Road and Eglinton Avenue West, the farthest north at Bayview Avenue and Sheppard Avenue East, and the farthest east at 313 Richmond Street East. Live at Dundas and Dufferin? That’s, apparently, the heart of the city. Parkside Drive? That, too. Mt. Pleasant Road and St. Clair Avenue East? Why not?
After culling location information from each listing, we used the data to build two maps.
The first map, by our Sasha Plotnikova (above), charts out the areas with the greatest number of “heart”s; the larger the drawn heart, the more listings from that area described an apartment or house there as being in the city’s heart. Arteries and veins trace streets, pushing the blood to the larger and smaller hearts elsewhere.
(Caveat emptor: even when the subject we’re trying to pin down is so, well, subjective, this is still all obviously very far from scientifically sound. Aside from the limitations of only looking at rental listings, and then only rental listings written by people using the “heart of the city” line as a selling point, few higher-end properties are rented by means of Craigslist listings, meaning more glitzy areas are likely underrepresented; we may have missed some listings that popped up and disappeared quickly; we’ve only looked during one season of one year, albeit the season in which apartment listings are particularly abundant; we didn’t look at properties for sale rather than rent; and, in spite of our best efforts to catch and weed out duplicate listings, some may have snuck through.)
The second map (just above) is surgical in a different way: it pinpoints the location of each and every one of the listings as specifically as possible. Many of those who wrote descriptions got no more precise than the nearest major intersection; in the area around Yonge and Bloor, for instance, some listings provided an exact address for one of the several dozen apartment buildings and tons of houses in the area, while others said only that the location was “Yonge and Bloor” and provided nothing else to go by. (We included properties with even vaguer locations as best we could, but excluded those properties we couldn’t identify, like one with no photos listed on “Yonge St.”) Blue markers on the Google Map mean that one listing with “heart of the city” or “heart of Toronto” was at that location, purple means two, aqua means three, yellow means four, and red means five or more listings.
So, where’s the heart of Toronto? Wherever you think it is—and that means you, too, Danforthers and Scarboroughnians and Etobicokeheads. You just might have to convince your landlord.