toronto traffic jam

What traffic used to look like in Toronto

Almost as long as there have been cars, there have been traffic jams in Toronto. Add road space and, like the ocean into a harbour, cars and vehicles arrive to fill it. It's been called the "fundamental rule" of traffic: greater road capacity leads directly to more cars and longer journeys.

With that thought it mind it should come as no surprise that Toronto's downtown streets have been a congested mess since before the 1930s, when people were driving Buick Series 40s and Plymouth Model 30Us and horse-drawn carts were still a relatively common mode of transportation.

To celebrate tonight's overnight lane closures on the Gardiner and the weekend shutdown of the subway between Eglinton and Bloor, here are some classic photos of Toronto traffic.

toronto traffic jam

Traffic cop at King and Yonge streets, 1912.

toronto traffic jam

Heavy traffic on Queen following a snowstorm on Christmas Eve 1924.

toronto traffic jam

A congested Bay looking north from Adelaide, December 24, 1924.

toronto traffic jam

Yonge near Albert (close to today's Eaton Centre) in December 1924.

toronto traffic jam

Traffic jam, unknown location, circa. 1929.

toronto traffic jam

Pedestrians spilling off the sidewalks at Queen and Yonge, August 31, 1929.

toronto traffic jam

Street parking forces Yonge down to one lane north of Shuter February 17, 1930.

toronto traffic jam

Yonge St. looking south from Albert St., August 31, 1929.

toronto traffic jam

Crowds of people board Peter Witt streetcars at Queen and Yonge, August 31, 1929.

toronto traffic jam

Cars at a standstill on Queens Park Crescent in 1936.

toronto traffic jam

Cars squeeze under the rail underpass near Davenport Rd. in 1936.

toronto traffic jam

Bumper-to-bumper traffic in 1954.

toronto traffic jam

Cars cover the street at Bay and Temperance, 1954.

toronto traffic jam

Construction forces traffic into a single lane in 1954.

toronto traffic jam

Traffic cop looks on as a car fails to clear the intersection, 1954.

toronto traffic jam

Queen and Yonge in 1954.

toronto traffic jam

Rail underpass in 1954.

toronto traffic jam

St. Clair traffic, 1954.

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

Images: City of Toronto Archives (as labeled.)


Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in City

The history of Markham's massive Cathedral of the Transfiguration

The surprisingly radical history of that church they built the Toronto Eaton Centre around

Bluffer's Park is home to the only beach along the Scarborough Bluffs

This is what three of the biggest new subway stations will be like on the Ontario Line

The roof at the Rogers Centre is open and people have thoughts on what it could be used for

Shoppers are lining up outside Toronto retail stores and you should stop judging them

Toronto couple picked up 6,000 garbage masks and gloves and they're not happy about it

Toronto Police rescue dog found running along the Gardiner Expressway