toronto sign reimagination unit

Someone created a heritage sign for a Toronto newspaper box

Heritage signs are posted around the city marking historical sites or homes but most don't document recent history.

There are signs in the city that look so similar to the Heritage Toronto Plaques, you might be fooled. One commemorated Rose the wild turkey another exposed the city's racist history.

Heritage Toronto has walking routes where you can see signs highlighting topics such as Indigenous history or the story of city. Many sites are from the 1800s or early 1900s.

Not many signs describe events of the last 25 years but the Toronto Sign Reimagination Unit would like to change that.

They are behind a new sign that has appeared in Seaton Village commemorating a newspaper box that quietly disappeared a couple of years ago.

The plaque "commemorates Toronto Star newspaper boxes that were located at this corner for several decades."

It goes on to describe how the box was used — readers needed to have exact change and the etiquette was to leave the display copy in the window until all the other copies were taken. Useful information for people of the future who may not use coins or read news printed on paper.

George Thiemeyer Hemmeter invented the coin-operated newspaper box, also known as a newspaper vending machine in 1947, the Toronto Sign Reimagination Unit points out.

Newspaper boxes have been on the decline for many years. A 2015 Newsweek article chronicled the disappearing boxes from U.S. streets. As print newspapers have been on the decline for many years in Canada, newspaper boxes won't be far behind.

There were an estimated 15,000 newspaper boxes in Toronto in 2006 and by 2018, 3,624 remained. The Toronto Star called the once familiar blue boxes "an endangered species" in 2020.

Perhaps we will keep a few around, but if not the Toronto Sign Reimagination Unit will remind us of that time when all the world's news was found in a metal box just down the street.

Lead photo by

Jode Roberts

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