Port Lands Toronto History

What the Port Lands used to look like

Even if a Ferris wheel isn't in the cards, the Port Lands is transforming, and will continue to for the years to come. The plans may change around a bit in the coming years, but the remaining industrial character of the area will certainly erode as new developments proceed.

Even as the full-scale revitalization of the Port Lands remains a project in process, the neighbourhood—if it's fair to call it that—is one in transition. 

Back in the 1970s, the Port Lands were very much in use as an industrial hub. The Hearn Generating Station was still operational, oil tanks littered the landscape, and the sight of a ship coming and going was a regular occurrence. 

As was the case elsewhere, the 1980s witnessed a decline in industrial use—though not to the same degree as places like Liberty Village—and the transition toward a mixed-use identity got underway.

If you're yearning for a glimpse at the Port Lands' industrial past, here's a visual history. 

port lands history

Cherry Street looking south, 1898

port lands history

Cherry Street looking north, 1898

port lands history

Cherry Street Bridge, 1915

port lands history

Ship launching, around 1915

port lands history

Construction on Cherry Street Bridge

port lands history

Cherry Street Bridge, 1920

port lands history

Port Lands refineries, 1930

port lands history

Villiers Street looking east, 1932

port lands history

Cherry Bathing Station, 1932

port lands history

Cherry Beach, 1935

port lands history

Joy Oil Tanks, 1938

port lands history

Streetcar shipment, 1963

port lands history

Port Lands, 1970s

port lands history

Leslie Street Spit, 1970s

port lands history

Aerial view, 1970s

port lands history

Cherry Street, 1970s

port lands history

Looking across Woodbine Beach, 1975

port lands history

Fill/garbage on Leslie Street Spit, 1977

port lands history

Aerial of Port Lands, 1980s

port lands history

Aerial view of the harbour, 1980s

port lands history

Wrecked cars in the Port Lands, 1980s

port lands history

Hearn Generating Station, 1980s

port lands history

Cherry Street, 1988

port lands history

Keating Channel, 1988

Photos by

The Toronto Archives. Written by Derek Flack. 


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