A 1930s Toronto photo extravaganza
The Toronto of the 1930s was a city mired in the Great Depression. Though high-profile construction projects like Commerce Court and Canada Life Building were brought to fruition, numerous others were nixed or heavily revised. There were plans to extensively alter the downtown street grid, adding multiple grand avenues between Spadina, Dundas, and Sherbourne, and a proposal by the Eaton's department store for what would have been the largest retail and office complex in the world, but the economy didn't co-operate.
The 1930s also brought unrest in the form of the Christie Pits riot, the opening of Maple Leaf Gardens and the Island airport, the first visit by a reigning monarch and a manned dirigible balloon, and the city's centennial celebration.
Here's a look back at 1930s Toronto in photos.
The R100 dirigible glides past Commerce Court in 1930. The British-built hydrogen balloon crossed the Atlantic to Canada that year as part of the country's fledgling Imperial Airship Scheme. The R100's sister ship, the R101, crashed in France en route to British India in 1930, killing 48 and ending the scheme.
Inside of Bedford Park Lunch and Ice Cream Parlour on Yonge St. 1930.
A near-finished Canada Life Building from the Osgoode Hall grounds.
One of the last bricks is maneuvered into position atop the Canada Life Building in 1930.
The Cherry Street Strauss Trunnion Bascule Bridge, which opened in 1930.
Looking toward the site of present day City Hall from the roof of the Canada Life Building, in 1930.
A view of downtown, also from the Canada Life Building.
Exiting a downtown streetcar in 1930.
Boarding a TTC streetcar.
Streetcar #1774 being wrecked on George St. Note the Christie's Biscuits factory in the background.
Streetcars in storage.
An open-topped TTC bus.
John David Eaton and Lady Eaton, his mother, arrive at the opening ceremony for the company's College St. store.
What the Eaton's College St. was supposed to look like.
And how it was built.
Bathers enjoy a dip in the High Park mineral baths in 1931.
The opening ceremony at Maple Leaf Gardens, November 1931.
The view from College and Yonge to Maple Leaf Gardens shortly after the hockey stadium was completed.
Commerce Court, the tallest building in the British Empire, shortly before it was completed in 1931.
The only known photo of the Christie Pits riot in August 1933. Acts of aggression and intimidation against the city's Jewish population were on the rise in the Depression years of the early 1930s, and the riot at Christie Pits represented the depressing nadir.
Beaches residents in swastika shirts.
Display celebrating Toronto's centennial in 1934 outside City Hall.
Sunnyside amusement park looking northwest from the waterfront.
Bathers at Leslie Beach in 1935. The area is now home to the Leslie St. Spit.
Tip Top Tailors Building.
Inside the Toronto Stock Exchange, 1935.
Aerial view of the Queen and Bay area.
View south from Fort York toward Maple Leaf Stadium (baseball) and Tip Top Tailors on Lake Shore.
Looking west on Front St. past Union Station and the Royal York Hotel.
In this staged photo, two women in shorts cause a car accident.
The Toronto Harbour Commission Building in the 1930s. Infilling of the Toronto Harbour effectively shifted the waterfront building inland.
Malton Airport when it was still the Toronto Flying Club.
Malton Airport (now Pearson) in 1939.
The island airport from waterfront grain elevators shortly after its opening in 1939.
The Midway at the CNE in 1939.
Simpson's department store at Queen and Yonge decorated for the visit of George VI in May 1939.
George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, in the royal carriage at Woodbine (later Greenwood) racetrack, 1939. The visit was the first by a reigning British monarch to Canada. The Queen Elizabeth Way, Ontario's first highway, was named in honour of the visit.
"Join the Canadian Army Active Force" poster, 1939.
"Somebody talked" war poster, 1939.
Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.
Images: City of Toronto Archives (as marked) all others Toronto Public Library
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