The cluttered beauty of Toronto streets in the 1960s
Toronto's main streets looked remarkably different in the 1960s. Even as the city is much denser and more vibrant today, the aesthetic of the urban landscape was at its busiest during this decade and the one that followed. 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 it completely changed the North American streetscape.
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.
Behold, the cluttered beauty of Toronto streets in the 1960s.
Looking up Yonge towards Queen St.
Similar view during the holidays
Yonge and Dundas
Yonge and Gould streets
Looking west on Bloor from Bathurst
Looking east on Bloor from Lansdowne
Looking north on Lansdowne from Bloor
Bloor near St. Clarens
Bloor near Havelock
Looking east on Bloor at Dovercourt
Looking north up Bathurst at Dundas
Bloor and Islington
Queen and Parliament
Danforth and Coxwell
Photos from Chuckman's Toronto Nostalgia series.
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