If there's a decade that calls to mind the pure glory of urban night photography, it's the 1970s. For its part, Toronto brimmed with just enough sleaze during this period to get the heart racing when walking down Yonge St. after hours.
By the time the 1980s rolled around, things were starting to clean up, but the proliferation of cameras and high speed colour film meant that more and more people were able to capture the city at night.
When Toronto made good on the description "bright lights, big city," photographers were creeping all over our streets capturing the mood of a messy city that finally liked to stay up late.
Here's what Toronto looked like at night during the 1970s and 80s.
Queen and Spadina before the McDonald's took residence on the northwest corner. Photo by Leroy W. Demery Jr.
Recently built Ontario Place looking good at dusk.
Looking west on the 401 towards Weston Rd. Note the distance is marked in imperial units on the sign to the right. Photo via The King's Highway.
The Eaton Centre under construction.
Eaton Centre construction further south.
Biltmore's Theatre looking absolutely majestic in the late 1970s.
The Rio and Sam the Chinese Food Man on a much seedy Yonge St. strip.
A&A Records and Peter Dunn's Vinyl Museum in 1982 (the year Dire Straits released "Love over Gold."
The Wintergarden Theatre and Diana Sweets further south on Yonge St.
Elm St. just west of Yonge. You can bet the interior of Barberian's Steakhouse (left side) looked pretty much the same back then.
A wide shot of Yonge St. looking south to Gould in the early 1980s.
A lost Toronto tradition. Chess games outside Sam the Record Man on Gould St.
Looking down on Yonge and Dundas from the roof of the Eaton Centre. Note the Howard Johnson to the far right of the photo.
King St. looking west from Simcoe across Ed Mirvish's empire.
The marquee at the Royal Alex Theatre.
A perfectly moody looking Dundas West between Beverley and Spadina in the early 1980s.
Now looking the other way, still on Dundas West.
A jumbled group of signs on Yonge St. near Gerrard.
The quintessential, hand-held 1980s skyline shot from the CN Tower.
Now zooming out and looking at the skyline from Broadview Ave.
Quiet King St. looking east towards St. Lawrence Hall.
Record shops, strip clubs, and fast food: Yonge St. in the 1980s.Typical Junction scene in 1984. Photo by Avard Woolaver.
Kicking it at Vesuvio's in when it was still clad with neon. Photo by Avard Woolaver.
Dundas and Mavety in 1984. Photo by Avard Woolaver.
Looking up Yonge St. from Gould after the first of Sam's spinning discs went up. Photo by Avard Woolaver.
That, folks, is what "South Core" looked like in the mid 1980s. The prominent building you see to the centre-left is the Canada Post Delivery Building, which is where the Air Canada Centre is located now.
The Bellair Cafe lighting up Yorkville in the late 1980s.
The Toronto skyline in 1987. Photo by Robert Naylor.