Toronto 1960s

The cluttered beauty of Toronto streets in the 1960s

Toronto's main streets looked remarkably different in the 1960s. Even as the city is more populated and vibrant today, the aesthetic of the urban landscape was at its busiest during this decade. Streets like Yonge and Bloor were a cluttered mess of irregularly shaped signs, flags and awning, but there was an undeniable beauty in the chaos.

This, no doubt, is why photos from the decade inspire such deep nostalgia these days. Toronto has grown up, but its lost much of its messy character along the way. Neon signs had burst onto the scene in the 1940s, and in the span of about 20 years, they completely changed the North American streetscape.

Toronto 1960s

Postcard view of Yonge St. near Gerrard in the 1960s.

From movie marquees to towering restaurant markers to steel-framed rooftop ads for beer and cigarette companies, streets were packed with a dizzying array of visual stimuli that seemed to announce Toronto's arrival as a big city in a blaze of red light.

Business owners could get away with far more outlandish signage during this period, and they took advantage with ostentatious self-promotion that protruded onto the street and hovered atop many buildings.

No one would endorse this type of urban planning today, but despite the overt commercialism, there was an energy that this bright hodgepodge lent to the city. The hulking signs of today deliver a homogeneity to the city that slowly erases our unique sense of place.

Behold, the cluttered beauty of Toronto streets in the 1960s.

Toronto 1960s

Postcard view Looking up Yonge towards Queen St.

Toronto 1960s

Similar view during the holidays. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

Toronto 1960s

Postcard view of Yonge and Dundas when the Brown Derby held court on the northeast corner.

Toronto 1960s

Postcard view of Yonge and Gould streets.

Toronto 1960s

Opposite view.

toronto 1960s

Looking west on Bloor from Bathurst. Photo by John Bromley.

Toronto 1960s

Looking east on Bloor from Lansdowne. Photo via John Bromley's Archives.

Toronto 1960s

Looking north on Lansdowne from Bloor. Photo via John Bromley's archives.

Toronto 1960s

Bloor near St. Clarens. Photo via John Bromley's archives.

Toronto 1960s

Bloor near Havelock. Photo via John Bromley's archives.

Toronto 1960s

Looking east on Bloor at Dovercourt. Photo via John Bromley's archives.

Toronto 1960s

Looking north up Bathurst at Dundas. Photo via John Bromley's archives.

Toronto 1960s

Bloor and Islington. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

20161122-queen-parliament.jpg

Queen and Parliament. Photo via John Bromley's Archives.

Toronto 1960s

Danforth and Coxwell. Photo via John Bromley's Archives.

Lead photo by

Toronto Telegram Archives


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