toronto financial 1970s

What the Financial District was like in the 1970s & '80s

The Toronto financial district is constantly in flux. Office towers go up, less fortunate buildings come down. Low-rise brick gives way to high-rise glass and steel. Never was that truer than in the decade (ish) from the late 70s to the early 1990s, when Scotia Plaza and BCE Place, two major office projects, arrived side-by-side, almost simultaneously.

The Red Napoleon granite Scotia Plaza tower was subject to bitter opposition from neighbouring TD Centre before its developers eventually won approval, while BCE Place had an easier ride, but ended up foundering in a poor leasing market. Both required the demolition of numerous landmarks.

Amateur street photographer Ellis Wiley, who extensively documented Toronto buildings and streets from the 1950s to 1990s, recorded the years leading up to construction of both projects, capturing one last time buildings buildings that were doomed to face the wrecking ball.

Here's what downtown Toronto looked like through Wiley's lens in the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

toronto adelaide jordan

The lost intersection of Adelaide and Jordan prior to construction of Scotia Plaza.

toronto financial 1970s

The Confederation Life Building undergoing renovations in the early 1980s.

toronto financial 1970s

Looking north on Bay to Old City Hall.

toronto financial 1970s

The BCE Place office tower rises.

toronto financial 1970s

A former S. S. Kresge outlet awaiting demolition at the southwest corner of Yonge and Richmond.

toronto financial 1970s

Northeast corner of Queen and Yonge before the office addition to the Bank of Montreal building.

toronto financial 1970s

Looking west on Richmond at Yonge.

toronto financial 1970s

The historic Wood Gundy building facade propped up at the Scotia Plaza work site.

toronto financial 1970s

The Wood Gundy building at King and Bay before excavations for Scotia Plaza.

toronto financial 1970s

The Silver Crown tavern--a haunt popular in the Toronto goth scene--at 25 Richmond St. W., now the Cloud Gardens.

toronto financial 1970s

The Lord Simcoe Hotel at King and University before its demolition.

toronto financial 1970s

The structural core of the Eaton Centre Tower near Queen and Bay.

toronto financial 1970s

Canadian Tire on the southwest corner of Yonge and Temperance.

toronto financial 1970s

Teperman Wrecking prepares to claim another building at the northwest corner of Adelaide and Victoria (thanks to Torontonian in the comments for identifying the location.)

toronto financial 1970s

Yonge and Wellington looking southwest.

toronto financial 1970s

Looking south on Yonge past Temperance.

The original version of this story confused BCE Place with the original Bay-Adelaide Centre. A regrettable and egregious error, which has now been corrected.

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Images: City of Toronto Archives


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