The Beaches (also known as "The Beach") is a neighbourhood and popular tourist destination located in Toronto. It is located on the east side of the "Old" City of Toronto. The boundaries of the neighbourhood are from Victoria Park to the east to Kingston Road on the north, Eastern Avenue to Leslie on the west, south to the lakeshore of Lake Ontario. The Beaches is part of the east-central district of Toronto.
The neighbourhood is located to the East of Toronto's downtown, from Coxwell east to Victoria Park. The lakefront is divided into four sections; Woodbine Beach to the west, Kew Beach and Scarboro Beach in the centre, and Balmy Beach to the east. It is four beaches which give the neighbourhood its name and defining principal characteristic. Until Lake Shore Boulevard was extended to Woodbine Avenue in the 1950s, Woodbine Beach was not a bathing beach, but rather a desolate wooded area known as The Cut. And Woodbine Avenue was the western boundary of the neighbourhood. While the official City northern boundary ends at Kingston Road, the area to the north has become known as the 'Upper Beaches'. The area bounded by Queen Street, Woodbine and Kingston Road is nicknamed the 'Beach Triangle'.
The commercial district of Queen Street East lies at the heart of The Beaches community. It is characterized by a large number of independent speciality stores. The side streets are mostly lined with semis and large-scale Victorian, Edwardian and new-style houses, such as in the development on the site of the former Greenwood Racetrack bounded by Queen Street East, Lakeshore Blvd. to the north and south respectively, and Kingston Road and Woodbine Ave. to the West and East respectively. There are also low-rise apartment buildings and a few row-houses. There are several parks in the area, as well as the the beach itself.
The beach itself is a single uninterrupted stretch of sandy shoreline bounded by theR. C. Harris Water Treatment Plant (locally known as the Water Works) to the east and Woodbine Park (a small peninsula in Lake Ontario) and Ashbridge's Bay to the west. A long boardwalk runs along most of its length. Although it is continuous, there are four names which correspond each to approximately one quarter of the length of the beach (from east to west): Balmy Beach, Scarboro Beach, Kew Beach and Woodbine Beach. Woodbine Beach and Kew-Balmy Beach are Blue Flag certified for cleanliness and are suitable for swimming.
Leuty Lifeguard Station on Kew Beach
The Beaches contains a number of historic buildings that are either designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, or listed in the City of Toronto's inventory of heritage buildings, including:
18–36 Wineva Avenue, built in 1929 (west side and even numbers only);
the Bank of Toronto building, 1958 Queen Street East, now the "Lion on the Beach" bar, built in 1950;
the Beach Hebrew Institute, 109 Kenilworth Avenue, built in 1920;
Beaches Branch of the Toronto Public Library, one of four original Carnegie Libraries and identical to two others (one in Northern Toronto at Wychwood, one in Western Toronto at High Park), 2161 Queen Street East, originally built in 1916, revamped in 1980 and 2005;
the Dominion Bank building, at Queen and Lee streets, built in 1911;