The Toronto of the 1970s was, in the words of Anthony Astrachan, “a city that works.”
Unlike a number of major urban areas in the U.S., Toronto’s downtown core was not rendered a ghost town by suburban emigration, and with the rise of the Parti Quebecois in Quebec, the city experienced such an influx of English-speaking Montrealers and Montreal-based companies that it became the fastest growing in North America.
And just as Toronto experienced a building boom—most notably in the rise of concrete apartment structures, downtown office towers, and the construction of the CN Tower—urban planners held little regard for historic structures, knocking down such iconic buildings as the Temple Building, the original Toronto Star Building, the Mercer Reformatory and many more.
Here’s how Toronto looked in the 1970s.
Gone but not forgotten, 1970s record shops at Yonge and Gould. Photo by cthompsonx.
Maple Leaf Gardens with the Odeon Theatre in the background, 1970. Photo by cgfletcher.
Pre-CN Tower skyline and Pier 6. Photo by mcwidi_2.
Here it comes! The CN Tower at the beginning of construction. Photo by Photoscream.
Flatiron building and skyline. Photo by Photoscream.
Joy Oil gas station from above (ca. 1970-73). Photo by steveartist.
City Hall (ca. 1970). Photo from Toronto History.
University Theatre in the background of a street scene. Photo from Toronto History.
Approaching Yonge and Bloor (ca. 1971). Photo from Toronto History.
Nathan Phillips Square in 1973. Photo by Robert Taylor.
The CN Tower under construction. Originally published in Time Magazine.
The infamous red subway trains, 1971. Photo by Robert Taylor.
A 1970s scene on a postcard of Toronto. Image from the Toronto Archives.
Another postcard, this one of Yonge Street. Image from the Toronto Archives.
A skyline view from the Islands, 1970s. Image from the Toronto Archives.
Woodbine beach looking west. Image from the Toronto Archives.
Crowds in front of Old City Hall. Note the old streetcar. Image from the Toronto Archives.