Toronto Street Corners: Then & Now

Street views at the intersection of time and place

Toronto street corners are the landmarks we use to navigate the city. But with modernization, urbanization and gentrification, they’re changing before our eyes. How about some perspective(s)?

Queen & Bathurst

A site of important Toronto architectural heritage, the southeast corner at Queen and Bathurst claims one of Old City Hall architect E.J. Lennox’s first buildings. What many remember today as the former site of the three-storey concert complex the Big Bop, the structure was originally built as the Occident Hall Masonic lodge between 1876 and 1878. It’s since gone the way of Queen Street West gentrification, now a destination for condo furniture.

Southeast corner, 1928


Photo courtesy Wiki Commons

Southeast corner, 2012

Photo by Skeezix1000 via Wiki Commons



Yonge & Dundas

Look back to 1920s Yonge and Dundas and you’ll see the seedlings of the dense concentration of billboards that defines the intersection today. Long before its frenzy of big advertising earned it comparison to New York’s Time Square, Yonge and Dundas was an intersection of entertainment and commerce. But a look back on pre-Yonge-Dundas Square Yonge and Dundas reveals one like most others.

Northwest corner, 1926

Photo via Wiki Commons

Facing northwest from Yonge-Dundas Square, 2010

Photo via Wiki Commons


Bathurst & Bloor

Since it opened in 1948, Toronto has known the southwest corner of Bloor and Bathurst as home to iconic discount department dealer Honest Ed’s, but it’s a landmark location that’s been here since York Township’s original boundaries were established in the 1790s and the advent of the Annex (1886). At the end of the year, Honest Ed’s will turn off the lights that still brighten the corner for the last time, but the future will tell exactly what will take their place.

Tracklaying, 1911

Honest Ed’s, 2007

Photo via Wiki Commons



College and Spadina still boasts many of the buildings that have stood there since the 1890s, and you’ll still glimpse businesses that have been around since the dawn of the century like the Hotel Waverly (opened in 1900) as you round the turn, but you’ll pass an onslaught of major banks, fast food chains and convenience stores, too.

Looking north up Spadina from southeast corner, 1890s

Photo courtesy Toronto Archives

Looking north up Spadina, 2016


It’s believed that in 1856, from atop the Rossin House Hotel (ca. 1909, the Prince George Hotel), a company self-described to encompass “Land Agents, Engineers and Photographists” captured a series of panoramic photographs it then used to pitch Toronto as the future capital of Canada to the British Colonial Office. Now an area densely populated with skyscrapers, today it would be impossible to achieve similar perspectives from the corner at King Street West and York Street.

Rossin House Hotel, southeast corner, 1856
Looking east on King, 2016


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