The downtown is the area north of the Queensway, between the Rideau Canal and Preston Street. It is a mixed office-residential-retail area. Parliament Hill is the focal point, and the major offices are within a few block of Wellington. The area's focal point is Dow's Lake and the Rideau Canal.
This area includes a number of interesting older neighbourhoods, many with larger homes built between the turn of the century and the
1940s. The Centretown area is mostly high rises, while Somerset has smaller multi-unit homes with an Asian feel. Preston St is the heart of the city's Italian community. The Glebe is an older community between Bronson and the Canal and south of the Queensway, and is filled with row houses, duplexes, renovated townhouses, and even Tudor-style mansions.
The area is served by two high schools, 5 public schools, 3 separate schools, and an Adult Continuing Education facility. The community is close to both Carleton U and Ottawa U, with Algonquin College's Rideau (Lees Ave) campus, and St Paul's university close-by. The area is also home to the main branch of the public library, downtown on Metcalfe.
The area has a number of great shopping possibilities including Bank Street, with more unique shopping on Elgin Street, and Somerset Street, and the closest full-size mall at Rideau Centre.
This community offers a number of year-round recreational possibilities. There are movie theatres in the
World Exchange Centre and at nearby Rideau Centre, for live performances, there's the national Arts Centre plus a number of more intimate venues. There are several museums in and close by the area, offering a taste of heritage and history. Along the northern, eastern, and southern perimeters are parkways and recreational pathways that follow the city's waterways to offer cycling, walking, and boating in the summer and skating & cross-country skiing in the winter.