While examining files in the Ontario Archives (#10005533), I discovered this photo, dated 1952. The camera is pointing north on Yonge Street, from south of Dundas Street.
During the 1950s, Yonge Street was the city’s entertainment district, with its bars, restaurants and theatres. It was the last decade that the street’s movie theatres were “the kings” of entertainment. By the 1960s, they were beginning to suffer from lower attendance due to television.
In the photo, the marquees of the Imperial Theatre (Ed Mirvish) and the Downtown Theatre (demolished) are prominently visible on the east (right-hand) side of the street. The site of the Downtown Theatre is now a part of Dundas Square.
If you know where to look, you will see the rounded facade of the Brown Derby Tavern at Yonge and Dundas and the red-brick Ryrie Building on the northeast corner of Yonge and Shuter Street. This is where the Silver Rail Tavern was located. The building still remains today, although the Silver rail is gone. The clock tower on the St. Charles Tavern is visible. The building was a fire station that became a tavern (bar, restaurant, night club) and is now a condo.
In the distance, Eaton’s College Street can be seen, as well as the Toronto Hydro Building at Yonge and Carlton. The dome on the roof of Maple Leaf Gardens is to the east of the Hydro Building.
In examining the photo, I found it remarkable that so many of the 19th-century building on Yonge Street have survived. In most instances, additions have been constructed across the front of them for commercial purposes. Many of the old buildings remain today, functioning as modern shops.
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Books by the Blog’s Author
“Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.
To place an order for this book, published by History Press:
Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)
Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.
For a link to the article published by Toronto Life Magazine: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-doug–taylor–toronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…
The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear
Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades.
Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:
For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com here or contact the publisher directly by the link below: