Toronto History photos 1850s 1990s

Toronto in photos from the 1850s to the 1990s

Although anything but comprehensive, the point of the decade-by-decade historical Toronto photo posts we've run over the last few months was to offer a glimpse of the various developments and transformations of a city that's often accused of having a troubled relationship with its past.

As easy as it is to navigate from one decade to another, it thus seemed to make sense to gather some of the best images from the series into one big post that illustrates Toronto's growth over the time period in question. As far a selection criteria goes, I've been anything but scientific. Limited to photos that appeared in the original posts (with a few exceptions), I've selected three to six images from each decade that either mark the arrival of significant buildings/structures, establish what Toronto looked like in general at the time (survey style skyline shots), or that are particularly compelling on a visual level.

So that's it for these particular posts. But we'll continue to feature our Nostalgia Tripping articles and to examine Toronto's past via more specific offerings like visual histories of important intersections and buildings.

1850s

From the 1856

2011112-panorama1856.jpg

Armstrong, Beere and Hime panorama

The city in 1854

2011131-Toronto,-Canada-West-1854.jpg


House of Providence (lost to the DVP's Richmond off-ramp)

2011131-House_of_Providence_Toronto.jpg


1860s

Provincial Lunatic Asylum (999 Queen West)

2011125-Asylum_Right_Wing_Toronto.jpg


The view from St. Lawrence Market

2011125-Looking_north_from_St_Lawrence_Market_in_1860s.jpg


Toronto City Hall 1868

2011125-Toronto_City_Hall_1868.jpg


1870s

Front and Wellington streets (Coffin Block)

2011117-FrontandWellington.jpg


The Crystal Palace (lost to fire)

2011117-Crystal_Palace_1871.jpg


King and Yonge streets looking east

2011117-King_Street_at_Yonge_Street,_looking_east1870s.jpg


1880s

Grand Opera House

20111-Grand_Opera_House_on_Adelaide_Street1880s.jpg


Toronto Harbour

20111-Toronto_harbour.jpg


Horse-drawn streetcar

201111-Horse_drawn_streetcar_Toronto_1885.jpg


The Yonge Street Arcade

201111-Yonge_Street_South_Arcase_Looking_East.jpg


1890s

Old Union Station (a.k.a Union Station II)

2011128-DPC-old_union1890.jpg


Queen's Park (provincial Legislature)

2011128-DPC-QP-photo1890.jpg


Knox College

20110103-1890-Knox_College_by_Notman.jpg


Track work for electric streetcars

20110103-1892-Special_track_work_installation_for_electric_cars,_King_and_Yonge_Streets,_looking_north,_August_1892.jpg


1900s

Board of Trade Building (lost to demolition)

20101227-1900-Board_of_Trade_Building_Front_Street.jpg


Celebrating the end of the Boer War (Yonge Street)

20101227-1900-Yonge_Street_crowd_celebrating_the_end_of_the_Boer_War.jpg


The Fire of 1904

20101227-1904-FireToronto19042.jpg


Diving Horse at Hanlan's Point

20101227-1907-The_diving_horse_at_Hanlan's_Point.jpg


City Hall and Terauley Street (now Bay Street)

20101227-1907-Old_City_Hall_and_Terauley_Street.jpg


Looking West along Front Street (Old Union Station in the background)

20101227-1907-Flagpole_painter_with_view_looking_west_on_Front_Street_from_Yonge_Street.jpg


1910s

Arrival of Immigrants at (Old) Union Station

20101220-1910_Arrival_of_immigrants_at_Union_Station.jpg


Looking southeast from Richmond and Bay streets

20101220-1912-Looking_southeast_from_Richmond_and_Bay_streets.jpg


Soldiers leave for war at (Old) Union Station 1914

20101220-1914-Crowds_as_soldiers_leave_Union_Station_1914.jpg


Excavating the site for New Union Station (Queen's Hotel in the background)

20101220-1915-Excavating_new_Union_Station_site_1915.jpg


Bloor Viaduct nearing completion

20101220-1916-Bloor_Street_Viaduct,_complete_view.jpg


299 Queen Street West in 1919

20101220-1919-299_Queen_Street_West_in_1919.jpg


1920s

Muddy Mount Pleasant Road

20100822-1920-Muddy_Mount_Pleasant_Road_Toronto.jpg


Queen and Bay streets

20100822-1923_Toronto_QueenSt_and_Bay_NW.jpg


Brand new Royal York Hotel 1929

20100822-1929-Front_of_Royal_York_Hotel.jpg


TTC Bus

20100822-TTC_Bus_in_1923.jpg


Yonge and Lawrence

20100822-YongeLawrence1922.jpg


1930s

Yonge Street Mission during the Great Depression

20101022-yonge-mission-1930s.jpg


South of City Hall

20101022-bay1930s.jpg


Carlton and Yonge (prior to re-routing)

20101129-1930-CarltonViewofCollegeStreetStoreUnderConstruction.jpg


Air Ship and Canadian Bank of Commerce Building

20101129-Airship_Toronto.jpg


Canada Life Building and Osgoode Hall

20101129-Canada_Life_Building_and_Osgoode_Hall_1934.jpg


Looking up Bay Street (City Hall in background)

20101129-Looking_north_down_Bay_Street_1930.jpg


Maple Leaf Gardens 1934

20101129-MapleLeafGardens1934.jpg


1940s

Christie's Wartime ad

20101214-christies1942.jpg


Imperial Bank of Canada Building

20101214-Imperial_Bank_of_Canada_Building1945.jpg


Streetcars in front of Union Station

20101214-Street_railway_cars_in_front_of_Union_Station1943.jpg


Sunnyside Pool and Beach

20101214-Sunnyside_Pool_and_Beach1940.jpg


Wartime factory work

20101214-VeronicaFoster-RonnieBrenGunGirl-smoke1941.jpg


Subway construction begins 1949

20101214-1949_Toronto_YongeSubwayConstruction3.jpg


1950s

Subways arrive at Toronto Harbour 1953

20101121-subwaycarship1953.jpg


Dundas Station

20101121-Dundasstation1954.jpg


Interior of a subway car

20101121-Interiorsubwaycar1952.jpg


Skyine in 1959

20101121-skyline1959.jpg


1960s

Letros Building

20101121-letros1965.jpg


Bay and Wellington

20100814-baywellington.jpg


Nathan Phillips Square

20100814-cityhall19662.jpg


Steinbergs

Steinbergs


Skyline

20100815-natgeo.jpg


1970s

Approching Yonge and Bloor

20100926-70sapproachingYB.jpg


CN Tower construction

20100926-70sCN.jpg


The Gooderham/Flatiron Building

20100926-70sflatiron.jpg


Carlton Line

20100225-Carlton-line-1970s.jpg


City Hall 1973

20100225-City-Hall 1973.jpg


Toronto Star Building 1976

20100225-water-torstar1976.jpg


1980s

Skyline and bus

20100225-skyline-bus1980.jpg


The Manulife Centre

20101011-80smanulife.jpg


The Monorail (Toronto Zoo)

20101011-80smonorail.jpg


Ontario Place

20101011-80sOP.jpg


Bellair Street

20101011-1980sbellair.jpg


Exhibition Stadium

20101011-exhibition-stadium1980s.jpg


1990s

Skydome

2011114-90s_dome.jpg


Skyline

2011114-90s_skyline.jpg


Yonge and Dundas

2011114-90s-Yonge-Dundas.jpg


Chinatown

2011114-90sChinatown2.jpg


Queen West

2011114-90sQueen.jpg


The Royal York

2011114-90sroyalyork.jpg


See additional photos from each decade here:

Images up to the 1980s were sourced from the Wikimedia Commons and the Toronto Archives, with the exception of the lead image, which was originally published in Time Magazine and the skyline shot from the early 1960, which appeared in National Geographic. Credits for photos from the 1990s are as follows: billcummins, cliffordstead, Olga S, CanadaGood, nothingtoseehere, and also nothingtoseehere.


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