Aerial Photos Historical Toronto

Aerial photographs of Toronto from the 1920s to 1980s

If the most fascinating thing about historical photos of Toronto is that they allow the viewer to track just how much the city has changed, then aerial shots would have to sit somewhere near the top of the archival heap. The macro-perspective they afford may not make for the most rewarding study of buildings that have survived the test of time, but there's probably no better way to get a sense for how Toronto's built environment has expanded over the years than by looking at the city from the air over the decades. What might be familiar geography today can look completely foreign in the absence of development or infrastructure that's now ingrained in our minds as part of the landscape.

Over and above the sweeping changes that these images reveal, discrete developments are also satisfying to note. If you've ever wondered where the old Maple Leaf Stadium was or what the Port Lands looked like when they were still an industrial hotbed, here's your chance. It's tough to pick favourites, but I'd be remiss not to point out just how eerie it is to see the R-101 Dirigible cruising across Toronto in the 1930s.

PHOTOS

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King West and what is now Liberty Village in 1920

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Toronto Islands 1920

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Toronto Islands and Hanlan's Point Stadium, where Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run

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The Distillery District was just a touch bigger in 1927

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Looking north across Toronto Ca. 1929 (thanks, Adam!)

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Downtown Toronto 1930

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Bayview and Lawrence in 1930

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Above what is now Pearson International in 1930

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Northern Secondary School 1930

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Queen's Park 1930

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Maple Leaf Stadium near Bathurst and Lake Shore 1930

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Toronto Islands 1930

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Mount Dennis and Kodak Plant 1930

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Looking southeast across Toronto 1930 (The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce Building was quite prominent back then)

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Chorley Park 1930 (the trace of which can still be seen from the air)

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Aerial with R101 Dirigible in view 1930s

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Downtown Toronto 1932

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Maple Leaf Gardens and the now demolished Normal School (Ryerson campus today)

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Bathurst north of Eglinton had yet to be developed much in the 1930s

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Above Forest Hill 1935

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Different Angle, same year

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The current site of the Island Airport 1937

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Above Toronto in the 1940s

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East York Aerial 1942

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St. James Town Aerial 1942

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The Garden District 1942

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High Park Aerial 1942

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Rosedale north to St. Clair Aerial 1942 (notice the Rosehill Reservoir was yet to be covered)

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Summerhil CPR Station 1950

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Damage from Hurricane Hazel north of Toronto 1954

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Looking southwest from around Jane and Lawrence 1950s

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A freshly demolished Maple Leaf Stadium 1960s

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The TD Centre has arrived late 1960s

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Hello CN Tower mid-1970s

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The Port Lands in the 1970s

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Exhibition Stadium and the CNE grounds 1980s

For context:

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Looking straight up the city, 2008

Photos from the Toronto Archives (with the exception of the last, which is by the author)


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