Open Streets Toronto History

What open streets used to look like in Toronto

The second edition of Open Streets TO takes place today, so what better time than now to recall what Toronto's first pedestrian takeover looked like. We've already traced the history of the Yonge St. Mall, but these photos bring something new to the table. Can you believe how packed the streets are. Alas, this is a far cry from the diminished version of the event that's takes place today, limited as it is between the hours of 8am to 12pm before most businesses are open.

At its peak in 1972 and 1973, the Yonge St. Pedestrian Mall spanned 11 weeks. And the people took note. Far from a criticism of the hard work that Open Streets TO organizers have done to push through a pedestrian-focused event like this in a political climate that's unfriendly at best, I'd point to these photos as an example of just how popular a wider application of an open streets initiative can be.

There were problems with the first iteration of the Yonge St. Pedestrian Mall, but the consensus was that it was mostly successful. That's food for thought as our main streets are open once again, for however long it lasts.

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Photos from the Toronto Archives and the Vintage Toronto Facebook page


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