toronto 1990s

The remote allure of Toronto streets in the 1990s

The 1990s doesn't seem so long ago, but after browsing through photos of Toronto from the period, the decade is sure to feel strangely remote. The clutter of the 1960s and the sleaze of the 1970s is absent, but with these sanitization efforts, the city feels rather empty.

Where are all the condos we have today?

Perhaps more than anything, Toronto appears like a city in transition during the 90s. The condos were coming, yes, but neighbourhoods like West Queen West, Liberty Village, and the Distillery District were entirely different than they are today.

To think, the city has transformed itself almost completely in the last two decades. It's remarkable and almost a bit scary.

There are other visual cues that makes the 90s seem like a distant memory. At the outset of the decade, PCC streetcars were still common on city streets, trolley buses ran up and down Bay St., and taxis were hulking American cars like Chevrolet Caprice Classics.

Throw in film processing shops, tons of newspaper boxes, Speakers Corner and MuchMusic on Queen West, gas stations that only sell gas, a lack of big brand stores on downtown streets, as well as the perpetual presence of squeegee kids, and you have a recipe for some potent nostalgia for those born in the 1980s.

For all the wistful glimpses at photos of the 60s, 70s, and even the 80s, the 90s is the decade that people my age remember best€” and, in our weaker moments, miss the most.

Behold, the remote allure of Toronto streets in the 1990s.

toronto 1990s

Trolley bus at the foot of Bay St. Photo by mightyleap.

toronto 1990s

Looking east on Queen at Spadina. Photo by David Wilson.

toronto 1990s

Looking east on King at Yonge St. Photo by mightyleap.

toronto 1990sDundas just west of Yonge. Photo by David Wilson.

toronto 1990s

Looking east on Queen from the junction of Roncesvalles and King. Photo by David Wilson.

toronto 1990s

299 Queen West. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

toronto 1990s

Abandoned Gooderham & Worts Distillery. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

toronto 1990s

Southeast corner of Avenue Road and Eglinton. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

toronto 1990s

Film lab at the corner of Britian and George. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

toronto 1990s

Roncesvalles just north of Queen (former Edgewater Hotel to the left). Photo by David Wilson.

toronto 1990s

Bay looking north beyond College. Photo by David Wilson.

toronto 1990s

Looking south on Bathurst from King. Photo by David Wilson.

toronto 1990sNorthwest corner of Queen and Bathurst. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

toronto 1990s

Parliament and Front. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

toronto 1990s

Lakeshore Boulevard at Superior. Photo by David Wilson.

toronto 1990s

Queens Quay looking towards Rees. Photo by David Wilson.

toronto 1990s

Queen West at Markham. Photo by Ivaan Kotulsky via the Toronto Archives.

toronto 1990s

King and Bay. Photo by David Wilson.

toronto 1990s

Yonge at Balmoral (wow). Photo via the Toronto Archives.

toronto 1990s

Queen and Connaught. Photo by David Wilson.

toronto 1990s

Southwest corner of Parliament and Front. Somehow still a Budget lot. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

toronto 1990s

Yonge just north of Millwood. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

toronto 1990s

Front and Princess. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

toronto 1990s

Union Station. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

toronto 1990s

Queen West and Walnut. Photo via the Toronto Archives.

toronto 1990s

Squeegee kid on Spadina north of Queen. Photo via the Toronto Public Library.

Lead photo by

Toronto Archives


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