Toronto of the 1960s was a city full of neon, so even as there were fewer people and things to do, main streets like Yonge and Bloor were hubs of energy dotted with ostentatious signs that set the streetscape ablaze. It was entirely messy and just a little sleazy.
Depending on how you looked at it, it was also beautiful. Streetcar lights pierced the night, movie theatre marquees could be found everywhere, and every sign was different from the next. It was like a completely different city than the one we know today.
Here's what Toronto looked like at night in the 1950s and 60s.
The corner of Yonge and Gerrard in the 1950s. Check out the marquee on the Savoy (far left).
The sparse Toronto skyline at the outset of the 1960s, prior to the rise of the TD Centre. The tallest building here is Canadian Bank of Commerce (now Commerce Court North).
Looking east on Bloor from Bathurst. The Midtown is now the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, though most of us still call it the Bloor. Photo by Robert D. McMann via John Bromley's archives.
Recognize the intersection? This is Yonge and Bloor before the birth of the Bloor-Danforth Line, when passengers would board east/west routes via these streetcar platforms. Photo by John Bromley.
Here we're looking south of Yonge St. from College with the Eaton's building on the right.
A view of the Wychwood Carhouse when it was still used to house streetcars.
Here we're looking east across Bloor from Bedford. Among the most remarkable things is the neon-adorned Swiss Chalet, the first location in the chain.
A TTC streetcar sweeper clears the road on Coxwell near Queen St.
Looking south on brightly lit Yonge St. from Gould. The Edison Hotel still had nightly entertainment and the Le Coq d'Or Tavern was a live music hot spot.
This is a reverse angle, now looking north from Dundas to Gould St. On the right is the Biltmore Theatre.
Aeroquay One was considered one of the nicest airport terminals in the world when it opened in 1964.
New City Hall looking just that in 1965.
Henry's Moore's The Archer when it was shiny, new, and patina-free.
The towering Odeon Theatre sign on Carlton near Yonge. Photo by Robert D. McMann via John Bromley's Archives.
Looking north up University across Richmond St. and beyond.
The Glendale Theatre on Avenue Rd. north of Lawrence in 1968.
Friar's Tavern just south of Yonge and Dundas (pre-Hard Rock Cafe).
This anonymous intersection is actually Bloor and Dundas back in the 1960s.
The Sutton Place Hotel was the lap of luxury when it opened in 1967.
A streetcar entering the Queensway from Queen/King/Roncesvalles. Love that CIBC sign. Photo by John Bromley.
The Roncesvalles Carhouse looking perfectly noir-esque. Photo by John Bromley.
The Regency Towers Hotel on Avenue Rd. (now a crappy Howard Johnson).
Looking west on Queen St. from Bay with Nathan Phillips Square decorated for the holidays. Photo by Robert D. McMann via John Bromley's Archives.
Correction: The lead image in this post was initially mis-attributed to Chuckman's Nostalgia, when in fact the photographer is John Bromley. Other instances of erroneous attribution have also been corrected. We thank John for bringing this to our attention.
Lead photo by
John Bromley (Bloor looking west from Bathurst)