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On This Spot: Yonge and Dundas


The intersection of Yonge and Dundas is now tagged "The Heart of the City." Under its barrage of flashing lights and neon signs, beside its music stores, shopping malls and trendy clothing shops sits an area that has gone through a great deal of change in Toronto's history.

The recent history of Yonge and Dundas can be looked at as renewal. In the early part of this century the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area was formed, which eventually lead to the creation of Yonge-Dundas Square. Numerous buildings (mostly discount stores) were torn down in order to create the square. Metropolis - now Toronto Life Square - is finally near completion, about to flood the square with even more lights, even more advertising, and even more business.

But this is far from the only change in the intersection's history.

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Image: Toronto Archives

In 1929 the intersection was still filled with life, as it is today. It had not yet become the seedy line of discount stores that were later destroyed to make way for the new square. There was a sporting goods and fishing tackle store, a Laura Secord, and a dentist on the east side of Yonge. The west side housed numerous shops, including a United Cigar Store, another dentist, a shoe store, and a delicatessen. There was even a giant billboard at the northwest corner, a sign of things to come. Streetcar tracks ran north and south on Yonge, not yet replaced by the subway. It appears that all buildings on this corner have been demolished. Toronto Life Square, Dundas Square, and the Eaton Centre have all moved into this famed corner. There's a chance that some of the buildings on the northwest corner are the same, but it's tough to tell.

Yonge and Dundas has been one of the city's most vibrant intersections for years. Well before it was a cheesy marketing slogan this area truly was the Heart of the City.


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