toronto night 1960s

Dazzling colour photographs of 1950s and 60s Toronto at night

Toronto of the 1960s was a city full of neon, so even as there were fewer people and things to do, main streets like Yonge and Bloor were hubs of energy dotted with ostentatious signs that set the streetscape ablaze. It was entirely messy and just a little sleazy

Depending on how you looked at it, it was also beautiful. Streetcar lights pierced the night, movie theatre marquees could be found everywhere, and every sign was different from the next. It was like a completely different city than the one we know today.

Here's what Toronto looked like at night in the 1950s and 60s.

toronto 1950s

The corner of Yonge and Gerrard in the 1950s. Check out the marquee on the Savoy (far left).

toronto 1960sThe sparse Toronto skyline at the outset of the 1960s, prior to the rise of the TD Centre. The tallest building here is Canadian Bank of Commerce (now Commerce Court North).

toronto 1960s

Looking east on Bloor from Bathurst. The Midtown is now the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, though most of us still call it the Bloor. Photo by Robert D. McMann via John Bromley's archives.

toronto 1960s

Recognize the intersection? This is Yonge and Bloor before the birth of the Bloor-Danforth Line, when passengers would board east/west routes via these streetcar platforms. Photo by John Bromley.

toronto 1960s

Here we're looking south of Yonge St. from College with the Eaton's building on the right.

toronto 1960s

A view of the Wychwood Carhouse when it was still used to house streetcars.

toronto 1960s

Here we're looking east across Bloor from Bedford. Among the most remarkable things is the neon-adorned Swiss Chalet, the first location in the chain.

toronto 1960s

A TTC streetcar sweeper clears the road on Coxwell near Queen St.

toronto 1950s

Looking south on brightly lit Yonge St. from Gould. The Edison Hotel still had nightly entertainment and the Le Coq d'Or Tavern was a live music hot spot.

toronto 1960s

This is a reverse angle, now looking north from Dundas to Gould St. On the right is the Biltmore Theatre.

toronto 1960s

Aeroquay One was considered one of the nicest airport terminals in the world when it opened in 1964.

toronto 1960s

New City Hall looking just that in 1965.

toronto 1960s

Henry's Moore's The Archer when it was shiny, new, and patina-free.

toronto 1960s

The towering Odeon Theatre sign on Carlton near Yonge. Photo by  Robert D. McMann via John Bromley's Archives.

toronto 1960s

Looking north up University across Richmond St. and beyond. 

toronto 1960s

The Glendale Theatre on Avenue Rd. north of Lawrence in 1968.

toronto 1960s

Friar's Tavern just south of Yonge and Dundas (pre-Hard Rock Cafe).

toronto 1960s

This anonymous intersection is actually Bloor and Dundas back in the 1960s.

toronto 1960s

The Sutton Place Hotel was the lap of luxury when it opened in 1967.

toronto 1960s

A streetcar entering the Queensway from Queen/King/Roncesvalles. Love that CIBC sign. Photo by John Bromley.

toronto 1960s

The Roncesvalles Carhouse looking perfectly noir-esque. Photo by John Bromley.

The Regency Towers Hotel on Avenue Rd. (now a crappy Howard Johnson).

toronto 1960s

Looking west on Queen St. from Bay with Nathan Phillips Square decorated for the holidays. Photo by Robert D. McMann via John Bromley's Archives.

Correction: The lead image in this post was initially mis-attributed to Chuckman's Nostalgia, when in fact the photographer is John Bromley. Other instances of erroneous attribution have also been corrected. We thank John for bringing this to our attention.

Lead photo by

John Bromley (Bloor looking west from Bathurst)


Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in City

Toronto can't seem to agree on future of King St.

Condo of the week: 29 Queens Quay East

TTC could be losing $50 million a year from fare evasion

It could soon be cheaper for students to ride the TTC

Today is the coldest day in Toronto this year

Overcrowding turns nasty on the King streetcar line

Rental of the week: 930 Dundas Street West

Experts say Toronto home prices will just keep going up