toronto aerial map

Amazing map shows how much Toronto has changed since 1954

It's common to talk about how much Toronto has changed over the last half century, but it's doubtful many of us truly appreciate the sheer scale of this transformation. Now, you can get a sense of it thanks to an amazing new interactive map.

Created by Yuriy Czoli, the aerial view overlays present day Toronto with a map of the city from 1954, the year the subway opened. The historical images come from the Map and Data Library at U of T, which has aerial photos covering much of southern Ontario.

"I was really curious to see what the data looked like once compiled into a stitched map," explains Czoli. "Ask yourself what Toronto looked like in the 1950s or the 1980s, or any decade, and it's really hard to get a sense of the city from a single photo."

It's amazing to see how parts of the city we now take for granted are missing on the 1954 map. For one, the entire 905 region is farmland, but so too are neighbourhoods like Don Mills, north Etobicoke and huge swaths of Scarborough.

There's no Leslie Street Spit, Humber Bay Shores or Ontario Place. Ditto for the Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner. You can see the 401 taking shape, but it's still under construction.

The Railway Lands look absolutely huge, and lost relics like Maple Leaf Stadium and the original Trinity College can be discerned if you know where to look (the foot of Bathurst Street and Trinity Bellwoods Park).

It's not really a huge surprise that the aerial images date back to 1954. It was a seminal year for Toronto development. With the addition of a subway line and major highways on the way, the path was paved for the modern city we have today.

I could get lost zooming in and sliding around on this map for hours.


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