Toronto History photos

This is what Toronto looked like from the 1860s to the 1990s

A decade-by-decade historical look at photos of Toronto offers a glimpse of the various developments and transformations of a city that's often been accused of having a troubled relationship with its past.

Looked at over a span of more than a century, the growth and development of Toronto over the years is breathtaking and reflects major changes in technology and transportation as well as major local and world events. 

In some decades, the city is unrecognizable compared to today. 

1850s

2011112-panorama1856.jpg

1856.

2011131-Toronto,-Canada-West-1854.jpg

Armstrong, Beere and Hime panorama, 1854.

2011131-House_of_Providence_Toronto.jpg

House of Providence (lost to the DVP's Richmond off-ramp)

1860s

2011125-Asylum_Right_Wing_Toronto.jpg

Provincial Lunatic Asylum (999 Queen West)

2011125-Looking_north_from_St_Lawrence_Market_in_1860s.jpg

The view from St. Lawrence Market

2011125-Toronto_City_Hall_1868.jpg

Toronto City Hall 1868

1870s

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Front and Wellington streets (Coffin Block)

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The Crystal Palace (lost to fire)

2011117-King_Street_at_Yonge_Street,_looking_east1870s.jpg

King and Yonge streets looking east

1880s

20111-Grand_Opera_House_on_Adelaide_Street1880s.jpg

Grand Opera House

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Toronto Harbour

201111-Horse_drawn_streetcar_Toronto_1885.jpg

Horse-drawn streetcar

201111-Yonge_Street_South_Arcase_Looking_East.jpg

The Yonge Street Arcade

1890s

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Old Union Station (a.k.a Union Station II)

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Queen's Park (provincial Legislature)

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Knox College

20110103-1892-Special_track_work_installation_for_electric_cars,_King_and_Yonge_Streets,_looking_north,_August_1892.jpg

Track work for electric streetcars

1900s

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Board of Trade Building (lost to demolition)

20101227-1900-Yonge_Street_crowd_celebrating_the_end_of_the_Boer_War.jpg

Celebrating the end of the Boer War (Yonge Street)

20101227-1904-FireToronto19042.jpg

The Fire of 1904

20101227-1907-The_diving_horse_at_Hanlan's_Point.jpg

Diving Horse at Hanlan's Point

20101227-1907-Old_City_Hall_and_Terauley_Street.jpg

City Hall and Terauley Street (now Bay Street)

20101227-1907-Flagpole_painter_with_view_looking_west_on_Front_Street_from_Yonge_Street.jpg

Looking West along Front Street (Old Union Station in the background)

1910s

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Arrival of Immigrants at (Old) Union Station

20101220-1912-Looking_southeast_from_Richmond_and_Bay_streets.jpg

Looking southeast from Richmond and Bay streets

20101220-1914-Crowds_as_soldiers_leave_Union_Station_1914.jpg

Soldiers leave for war at (Old) Union Station 1914

20101220-1915-Excavating_new_Union_Station_site_1915.jpg

Excavating the site for New Union Station (Queen's Hotel in the background)

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Bloor Viaduct nearing completion

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299 Queen Street West in 1919

1920s

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Muddy Mount Pleasant Road

20100822-1923_Toronto_QueenSt_and_Bay_NW.jpg

Queen and Bay streets

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Brand new Royal York Hotel 1929

20100822-TTC_Bus_in_1923.jpg

TTC Bus

20100822-YongeLawrence1922.jpg

Yonge and Lawrence

1930s

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Yonge Street Mission during the Great Depression

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South of City Hall

20101129-1930-CarltonViewofCollegeStreetStoreUnderConstruction.jpg

Carlton and Yonge (prior to re-routing)

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Air Ship and Canadian Bank of Commerce Building

20101129-Canada_Life_Building_and_Osgoode_Hall_1934.jpg

Canada Life Building and Osgoode Hall

20101129-Looking_north_down_Bay_Street_1930.jpg

Looking up Bay Street (City Hall in background)

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Maple Leaf Gardens 1934

1940s

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Christie's Wartime ad

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Imperial Bank of Canada Building

20101214-Street_railway_cars_in_front_of_Union_Station1943.jpg

Streetcars in front of Union Station

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Sunnyside Pool and Beach

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Wartime factory work

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Subway construction begins 1949

1950s

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Subways arrive at Toronto Harbour 1953

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Dundas Station

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Interior of a subway car

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Skyine in 1959

1960s

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Letros Building

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Bay and Wellington

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Nathan Phillips Square

Steinbergs

Steinbergs

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Skyline

1970s

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Approaching Yonge and Bloor

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CN Tower construction

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The Gooderham/Flatiron Building

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Carlton Line

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City Hall 1973

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Toronto Star Building 1976

1980s

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Skyline and bus

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The Manulife Centre

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The Monorail (Toronto Zoo)

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Ontario Place

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Bellair Street

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Exhibition Stadium

1990s

2011114-90s_dome.jpg

Skydome

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Skyline

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Yonge and Dundas

2011114-90sChinatown2.jpg

Chinatown

2011114-90sQueen.jpg

Queen West

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The Royal York

See additional photos from each decade here:

Photos by

Toronto Archives. Photos up to the 1980s were sourced from the Wikimedia Commons and the Toronto Archives, with the exception of the lead image, which was originally published in Time Magazine and the skyline shot from the early 1960, which appeared in National Geographic. Credits for photos from the 1990s are as follows: billcumminscliffordsteadOlga SCanadaGoodnothingtoseehere, and also nothingtoseehere.


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