King Street Toronto history

What King Street used to look like in Toronto

Is there a thoroughfare as historically important as King Street in Toronto? It would face stiff competition from Yonge and Queen (formerly Lot) streets, to be sure, but it's not for nothing that it bears the name of King George III, who ruled during the time that the Town of York was founded. The economic heart of the city (and now the country) through its central portion between University and Church Street, King was the first street to feature a bonafide office block, in the form of the Chewett Building.

Once home to the mighty Massey Ferguson buildings (stretching west from Massey St.), the Otto Higel Building (at Bathurst), Upper Canada College (at John), the Rossin House Hotel (at York), and the Toronto Star Building (near Bay), the street has lost some remarkable structures over time. On the flip side, landmarks like the Royal Alex Theatre, Commerce Court North, The King Edward Hotel, and St. James Cathedral ensure that the it's not bereft of historical reference points, even its manufacturing legacy west of Bathurst has been lost.

In general, buildings knocked down through the central portion of King Street were at least replaced with grand structures of their own (i.e. Toronto Star Building for First Canadian Place), a tradition that would continue should the Mirvish-Gehry proposal ever get approved. King Street is about as marquee as you get in Toronto, and a rather fitting place for showpiece structures.

PHOTOS

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Chewett Building, King & York streets, 1834

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Former Upper Canada College grounds and King West via Goad's Atlas

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King & Yonge, 1896

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Looking east along King towards Church, 1856

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Looking west along King toward Yonge, 1856

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Looking west along King from York, 1856

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King St. East to Victoria, 1910

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King West subway, 1915

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Near King & Bay, 1930

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Yonge Subway construction at King St, 1950

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Yonge & King, late 1950s

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Royal Alex Theatre, 1955

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Sword Restaurant at Yonge & King, 1967

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King St., 1970s

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Junction of King & Queen streets, 1973

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Northwest corner of Bathurst & King, 1977

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King St. near St. Lawrence Hall, 1978

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Ditto, but 1980

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Northwest corner of King & Bathurst, 1981

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King West, 1980s

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King & Strachan, 1980s

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King West, 1980s

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King & Frederick, 1994

Photos from the Toronto Archives


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