What Toronto traffic looked liked in 1960s and 70s
Traffic in Toronto is a major drag, but this wasn't always the case. There was a period in the 1960s and 70s when the city built plenty of new infrastructure and the burgeoning population had yet to max it out.
The first phase of Highway 401 opened in 1947, which was followed by massive expansions until 1968. Meanwhile, far more sleepy versions of the Gardiner Expressway and DVP witnessed their first vehicles in 1955 and 1961, respectively.
Back in the early days, these major expressways looked dramatically different, with huge spaces between fast-moving cars. Sure, there were still delays and traffic jams thanks to accidents and occasional roadwork, but it was nothing like today.
After all, much of the same infrastructure deals with hundreds of thousands more people each day. And the TTC hasn't gotten a whole lot better, either.
It wasn't just Toronto's highways that looked deserted during this period. As we've seen before, prior to the the massive development boom we're still experiencing today, the city's downtown was often sparsely populated, whether you're talking about cars or people.
Exercises like this one are always a bit dishonest, I must confess. The photos have been chosen to convey a sense of emptiness that isn't necessarily present in all images from the era.
Still, the point isn't to claim that the city was perpetually traffic-free during this time, so much as to underscore just how profoundly different our roads looked. Toward that end, it's a useful nostalgia trip.
Behold, what Toronto traffic looked like in the 1960s and 70s.
Islander800 / Shorpy and the Toronto Archives. With files from Derek Flack.
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