Liberty Village is a smaller neighbourhood in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is bounded at the north by King Street West, the west by Dufferin Street, the south by the Gardiner Expressway, the east by Strachan Avenue, and the northeast by the CP railway tracks. The Liberty Village name was introduced as a positive 'brand' by the property owners and developers in the area in conjunction with the City of Toronto. The neighbourhood aims to distinguish itself from Parkdale, which now begins west of Dufferin Street. Its location is considered one of its finest assets, being a 15 minute walk to the Lakeshore, 20 minute streetcar ride to the financial core and a 20 minute walk from the entertainment/fashion/gallery districts of King St. West.
Partly because of this, Liberty Village has experienced phenomenal growth from 2004 to the present in terms of new condos/lofts, office space, a new park, and a multitude of new shops and restaurants. It has been dubbed by many as the "hottest" neighbourhood in Toronto.
The ongoing gentrification of downtown Toronto has been pushing farther outwards from downtown (see Queen Street West, Niagara,Distillery District), encouraging rapid development. It has become a trendy neighbourhood for young professionals and artists pushing farther west for less established areas, while still remaining a short walk or streetcar ride from the core. Many old factories have been repurposed as lofts while others have become restaurants, gyms, furniture stores and galleries, as this area was primarily a former heavy industrial area. The preservation of the old factory buildings, gives Liberty Village a distince historical feeling of old meets new.
Once dotcom central, Liberty Village has parlayed its tech cred and industrial roots into a hot spot for burgeoning Web 2.0 start-ups, film and television production companies and a growing residential community settling into former factories turned lofts. Soccer and ultimate Frisbee teams come to play at Lamport Stadium while avid rock climbers tackle the walls at Joe Rockheads. The revitalized Liberty Market Building is quickly becoming a local landmark, home to a growing mix of restaurants and shops.
The industrial building that used to house a paper company and up until 2003, the Irwin Toy Factory, was converted into industrial residential lofts and mixed commercial use spaces. The Toronto Carpet Factory Building on Mowat Avenue and its surrounding campus of industrial structures is an example of 1900s' turn of the century industrial architecture and currently houses a mixture of design, technology, media and marketing companies. Old storage and factory spaces at Liberty Street and Hanna Avenue were converted into commercial spaces in the 1980s and 1990s, and they comprise Liberty Market. The Market houses design firms and collectives, media, technology and marketing firms, and an eclectic mix of retail stores. Structures from the old Inglis Factory and the former Massey Ferguson Head Office surround the heart of Liberty Village, further testifying to the industrial history of the neighbourhood.
Artscape, a non-profit urban development organization that revitalizes buildings, neighbourhoods, and cities through the arts has a strong presence in Liberty Village, providing mixed live/work spaces for local artists. Its influence can be seen throughout the neighbourhood and maintains the valued tradition of a neighbourhood that was once dominated by artists searching for affordable living and studio spaces.
Liberty Village is known for its successful Art and Design studios, but media and technology companies also have a strong presence in the Toronto community. Many Canadian and US design and technology firms have located to Liberty Village, creating many jobs for the increasing number of citizens that have moved into the growing neighbourhood.
Liberty Village's name comes from its central street, Liberty St. named in honour of a historic prison reform, the initiative of then Provincial Secretary William John Hanna who forced the closure of Toronto's Central Prison located north of the CNE and west of Strachan Avenue in 1915. Before it closed, the Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women used to be on the site where Lamport Stadium currently stands. The street where the prisoners, when released, would directly walk on to became known as -- "Liberty Street".