Liberty Village is a historic neighbourhood in Toronto that has progressed from an old British fort (Fort York), to an industrial and penal district, to an “artsy” residential neighbourhood, to become a neighbourhood undergoing exciting gentrification. Where there were once factories and prisons, today there are condominiums, restaurants, coffee shops, pubs, art galleries, gyms, and a multi-purpose sports stadium called Lamport Stadium. Employment opportunities today are mainly in fields such as marketing and design or art, film, and music. The numerous Liberty Village restaurants and bars also offer jobs in the food service industry, a plus for aspiring artists and actors. The plentiful Liberty Village lofts provide comfortable housing ideal for both struggling artists and established professionals.
Much of the character of Liberty Village comes from the old industrial buildings that have been converted to Liberty Village residential lofts and commercial office spaces. One such building is referred to as the Castle because of its Medieval Revival architecture. One post and beam style building that was once used to manufacture billiards equipment became home to the Academy of Spherical Arts, an upscale billiards and dining establishment.
Another notable landmark of Liberty Village is the aforementioned Lamport Stadium, built on the site of a former female prison (the Andrew Mercer Ontario Reformatory Facility for Women – try saying that 10 times in a row). This stadium caters to soccer, rugby, field hockey, and ultimate frisbee.
Liberty Village is known for art galleries as well as furniture and design shops but also features a shopping strip anchored by the Dominion supermarket. The shopping strip also includes such amenities as a pet supply store, a dry cleaner, a video store, a bank and more upscale furniture shops than one would ever need in this lifetime. Although Liberty Village does not offer public schools (the nearby public schools that serve the Village are excellent), there is an outstanding children’s art school (Liberty Village Kids ). In addition, Liberty Village is close to Toronto’s Entertainment District and the Air Canada Centre and the Rogers Centre sporting venues. Liberty Village residents have easy access to the nearby waterfront trail and can enjoy walking, jogging, cycling, and in-line skating. Streetcar lines provide easy access to both the entertainment district and the downtown financial district.
Liberty Village is almost exclusively comprised of scattered townhouses and newly constructed condos (the whole development was just a landfill 10 years ago). Restored industrial buildings also offer a handful of roomy lofts with high ceilings (the Toy Factory Lofts are very sought after by hard loft enthusiasts), and there are modern Liberty Village condo towers offering a contrast to the historic buildings. Entry level units are very affordable in Liberty and many first time buyers settle here, providing a young and hip demographic.
Liberty Village draws it name from the prisons that once were located there. The art-centered lifestyle that has come to characterize the Village seems well suited to the name. Many of the young professionals moving to the shiny new condos are only looking for affordable spaces with good square footage within easy commuting distance to the downtown business district. Others are excited by the idea of living in an area that offers a refuge from the business atmosphere of the financial district. All like to party.