The Danforth / Playter Estates
source: Danforth BIA
Danforth Avenue in Toronto, Ontario, Canada was named after Asa Danforth, an American contractor who was commissioned in 1799 to cut the Danforth but didn’t actually build it. The Don and Danforth Plank Road Company built Danforth Ave in 1851, connecting it to Broadview Ave and creating a viable route to the more populous surrounding communities down near Queen St East and Kingston Road. With the barriers of the Don Valley and Don River, the Danforth started out as a remote area. It was remembered as “a dusty country road – a sleepy byway that ran through open fields, market gardens, brickyards, scattered houses, the odd church, and occasional hotel or roadhouse, where Torontonians would go for weekend revels.” In the early 1790s just north of the Danforth, industries began settling along the east bank of the Don Valley to take advantage of the water power potential of the Don, and later to exploit the valley’s rich clay deposits for brick-making purposes.
In the late 1800s, as the City of Toronto grew because of an increasing immigrant population, the City decided in 1884 to annex the previously un-serviced lands south of the Danforth, north of Queen St East and east of the Don to Greenwood. The lands north of the Danforth and east of Donlands Ave, and Chester Village were later annexed to the City of Toronto in 1909.
The Danforth area began to prosper as a result of major transportation improvements that created more access to the area.
In 1888 the Toronto Street Railway established a streetcar line along Broadview Ave from Queen St East to the corner of Danforth Ave and in 1913 the Danforth line of the municipally-owned Toronto Civic Railways began service east of Broadview Ave.
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, finally connecting the Danforth to the City via Bloor Street.
Initially the bridge was called the Bloor Street Viaduct, but on September 11, 1919 Toronto’s City Council unanimously agreed to rename it the Prince Edward Viaduct to honour Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) who had received an enthusiastic welcome a few weeks before on his first visit to Toronto. First inhabitants to the new lower middle class suburb of Toronto were mainly immigrants from England, Ireland, and Scotland. In the 1950s an influx of Italians came to the area, followed by Greeks and other immigrants in the 1960s. In the mid-1970s second generation Greeks and Italians moved to the outer suburbs, while children of Anglo-Saxon suburbanites, attracted by low real estate prices and closeness to downtown Toronto (the Bloor-Danforth subway line opened in 1966), returned and launched a major wave of home renovations and restoration in the area.
Playter Estates is an area in the east end of Toronto, Canada bounded by Jackman Avenue to the east, the Don River Valley to the west, Danforth Avenue in the south, and Fulton Avenue in the north. The neighbourhood is built on land once owned by the Playter family for whom two streets in the area are named. The old farmhouse of the Playter household at 28 Playter Crescent is now the Playter Mansion, which is often used for various films, television shows, and commercials.
The neighbourhood is historically Greek, but is increasingly popular among artists and business professionals. The advent of Taste of the Danforth, a weekend long celebration of Danforth Avenue cuisine and culture, has made the area far more popular in recent years.
Although the increasing home prices in the community cater to the upper-middle class, the neighbourhood still tends to lean to the left of the political spectrum, mainly supporting New Democratic Party candidates in provincial and federal elections.