Danforth Toronto history

What Danforth Avenue used to look like in Toronto

It'd be fair to say that there's been something of a west-side bias to the collection of historical posts we've published over the years, so by way of increasing the breadth of our history series I'll be taking a look at some important east-side street and neighbourhoods over the next little bit. Up first, perhaps naturally, is Danforth Avenue. First built in the 1850s, the street is named after the man originally commissioned to build a route that headed east from Scarborough towards Trenton. Danforth's Road, as it was called after Asa Danforth Jr., would eventually fall into disuse when Kingston Road became the more popular passage between Toronto and destinations to the east of the city.

Danforth Avenue was built in the 1850s as a connection between the city and these east-heading routes, though to look at photos from the early 1900s there's nothing particularly urban about the the street. Aside from an area of density around Broadview and the presence of Toronto Civic Railway cars from 1913 onward, the Danforth was a mostly lazy stretch of road that wouldn't see major development until the 1920s, following the completion of the Bloor Viaduct in 1918.

It's difficult to overstate the importance of the Viaduct as a connection between the east and west ends of the city. Although there were bridges across the Don River to the south, as the city to the west was expanding northward, there was no easy way to cross the Don Valley north of Gerrard Street. With the bridge came regular streetcar service and a wave of construction ensued.

The street's Greek presence dates back to the late 1950s as the city experienced a surge of immigrants from Italy and Greece during this period through the 1960s. Although Greektown has lost some of its identity in recent years as this stretch of the Danforth is steadily commercialized and diversified, core businesses — many of them restaurants — ensure that this bit of the street's history remains vibrant.

PHOTOS

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Not the Danforth, but what Bloor Street looked like before the ravine was filled in for the Viaduct, 1908

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Danforth approaching Broadview, 1910s

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Danforth, 1912

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Danforth & Broadview, 1912

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Western terminus of the Danforth (pre-Bloor Viaduct), 1912

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250 Danforth Ave, 1912

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Danforth looking east from Pape, 1913

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Danforth & Don Mills (what we'd refer to as the northwest corner of Danforth & Broadview today — thanks Steve Munro), 1913

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Danforth Car Barns, 1912

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Interior of Danforth Car Barns, 1915

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Danforth looking west from Woodbine, 1915

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Laying track on Danforth, 1918 (any guesses as to the location?) — this is just east of Broadview

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425 Danforth Avenue, 1919

Pape and Danforth

Pape & Danforth, 1919

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Broadview & Danforth looking south, 1920

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Danforth public lavatory, 1920s (55 Danforth, just west of Broadview -- the building is now the École Napoléon)

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Danforth Fruit Store, 1930

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Danforth east from Bowden, 1932

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Carlaw & Danforth, 1934

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Dramatic accident in 1935 (location unspecified — as a commenter points out, this is near Glebemount)

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Danforth east from Coxwell, 1935

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Danforth & Coxwell, TTC waiting room 1936

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Danforth looking east from Ladysmith, 1936

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Danforth looking west from Monarch Park, 1936

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Linsmore Hotel, 1945 (now the Linsmore Tavern -- near Greenwood)

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Hotel Quigley, 1945 (near Oak Park Avenue)

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Danforth & Greenwood, 1947

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Danforth & Jones, 1952

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Power Supermarket (near Danforth & Woodbine), 1953

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Danforth & Woodbine, 1954

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Danforth looking east from Luttrell, 1959

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Danforth looking west from Woodington, 1960

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Danforth at Birchmount, 1960s

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Danforth looking west from Westlake, 1960

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Danforth looking east from East Lynn, 1960

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Danforth Autobody, 1965

Photos from the Toronto Archives


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