Downtown Ottawa

Downtown Ottawa is the central area of Ottawa, Canada. Like other downtowns it is the commercial and economic centre of the city and unique to Ottawa the host to the engine of the Capital; the Federal Government. It is bordered by the Ottawa River to the north, the Rideau Canal to the east, Somerset Street to the south and Bronson Avenue to the west. The area east of the canal but west of Nicholas Street, which includes the Rideau Centre and the Byward Market, is also normally considered “downtown”. The neighbourhoods around the central business district are also generally referred to as being downtown. These include Centretown to the south and Sandy Hill and Lower Town to the east and the Golden Triangle in the centre.

Downtown Ottawa is dominated by government buildings, including the Parliament of Canada, and the Supreme Court. Most of the buildings are office towers containing the various government departments. While most of Ottawa’s high tech industry is based elsewhere, it also has a significant presence in the downtown core. The downtown area¬†also contains a number of apartments, condominiums, hotels, as well as single family and row houses along its edges. The towers of downtown Ottawa have tended to be low because, until the 1970s, they could not legally be taller than the Peace Tower, so as not to overshadow the Parliament Buildings. Today, several buildings are taller than the Peace Tower, with the tallest being the 29-storey Place de Ville (Tower C) at 112m/369ft.

Downtown Ottawa has a grid pattern of streets with a number of the streets being one way. In the east, Elgin Street is a ceremonial route and site of many prominent buildings, landmarks and National Monuments. West of it is Metcalfe Street and then O’Connor Street, both of which are one way. Next is the most important north/south: Bank Street. It runs through the heart of downtown and is an important commercial centre. West is Kent Street and Lyon, Bay and Percy, these one way streets are fairly minor collector or local roads. To the west Bronson a major avenue that forms the western edge of downtown.

The furthest north street that crosses downtown is Wellington Street home to the Parliament buildings, The Senate, and several other interesting buildings. South of it is Sparks Street, which has been closed to traffic and turned into a pedestrian mall beautiful in warmer months. South of this is Queen Street, and then Albert and Slater which carry the Transit way through downtown. Next is Laurier Avenue and then Gloucester, Nepean, Lisgar, Cooper, (those four are minor local roads) and then Somerset, the main arterial road on the southern end of downtown.

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