A visual history of Spadina Avenue in Toronto
Although Spadina may not compare to Yonge in terms of importance and length or Jarvis in terms of (former) beauty, Spadina is one of those crucial thoroughfares around which the city developed as it pushed west from the area around the St. Lawrence Market.
Whether on account of its proximity to Casa Loma, the dominant presence of Knox College, the public lavatory at Queen St., or just the wide expanse it cuts through the heart of the city, Spadina is one of those streets for which we have lots of archival photos.
It's also a place that exists as something of a microcosm of the city's history, from the rise of streetcar transportation, to the diversification of Toronto's ethnic population, to the battle to prevent the street from being turned into an expressway in the 1960s, our local heritage can be spotted everywhere along here.
And despite the significant changes that these photos document, Spadina's character has somehow stayed intact over the last century or so.
Don't believe me? Compare the view at Queen and Spadina in the 1920s with what you see at the intersection today; you might just get a tinge of excitement over just how close the past seems.
Other sections, like the area around U of T, aren't so easily recognizable. As was the case with so many streets in the late 1940s, widening efforts eliminated the tree-lined character of the avenue between College and Bloor streets (north of Bloor, the street name changes to Spadina Road).
And the construction of the streetcar right of way (ROW) in the 1990s did away with the diagonal parking that was once a recognizable feature of Spadina's make-up.
Still, with so many other historical treasures left to be found, there's little point in bemoaning changes that have accompanied development over the years. If they ever tear down Casa Loma, on the other hand, I'll take up arms.
It should be noted that the majority of the images feature Spadina Avenue, but for the sake of comprehensiveness, I've also included plenty that depict areas north of Bloor Street, a.k.a. Spadina Road.
And, this post wouldn't be complete without... The Spadina Bus.
the Toronto Archives unless otherwise noted
Join the conversation Load comments