Room to stretch out on the TTC subway system and rows and rows of downtown parking: it’s not a parallel universe — it’s Toronto in the 1970s.

The absence of mega developments is noticeable but so is the lack of crowding when looking at photos from past decades, including these 17 snapshots from the Toronto of the ‘70s.

Toronto Islands, 1970

Toronto Island - Cherry Beach & Island Airport.. - 1970-1970

Photo: City of Toronto Archives

Those aboard this ferry would have had to board from an aging terminal built in 1918 at the foot of Bay Street. The rebuilt structure, today known as Jack Layton Ferry Terminal, lies about 100 metres east of the previous terminal.

Cherry Beach 1970

Toronto Island - Cherry Beach & Island Airport.. - 1970-1970

Photo: City of Toronto Archives

More than a century ago, this summertime hotspot was linked to the Toronto Islands via a sandy peninsula that was washed away in the mid 19th-century. Above, a sand-strutting couple prove flares were acceptable beach attire, at least in 1970.

Island Airport, 1970

Toronto Island & Island Airport. - 1970-1970

Photo: City of Toronto Archives

Many make the trip to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport — bypassing the much busier Toronto Pearson International Airport for flights to New York, Boston, Montreal, and other destinations — but the City’s island airport was cash strapped in the ‘70s.

Spadina bridge, 1971

Photo: City of Toronto Archives

The monolithic TD Centre towers, the work of architect Ludwig Miles van der Rohe, stood out even more in the early 1970s with far fewer high rises encroaching.

Regent Park, Parliament and Dundas Streets, 1972

Creator: City of Toronto 1972 Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 16, Item 5 City of Toronto Archives www.toronto.ca/archives Copyright is held by the City of Toronto.

Photo: City of Toronto Archives

The site of a multi-phase revitalization from The Daniels Corporation and Toronto Community Housing that’s currently underway, Regent Park was among the first social housing communities in Canada. Check out this then-and-now photo tour to see how it is changing.

CN Tower under construction, November 1973

Photo: City of Toronto Archives

By November 1973, construction on the ambitious CN Tower project had been going on for the better part of a year. The iconic tower was still about three years away from opening to the public.

Ontario Place, 1973

Photo: City of Toronto Archives

Ontario Place, which still looks oddly futuristic today, appeared especially so in the early ’70s when it opened amid fanfare.

Northwest corner of Esplanade and Hahn, 1973-74

Photo: City of Toronto Archives

In the 1970s and ‘80s, parts of The Esplanade were redeveloped and a number of public-realm improvements were made, though the red-brick character of The Esplanade remains today.

St. Lawrence Market, as seen from the King Edward Hotel, July 1974

Photo: City of Toronto Archives

The St. Lawrence Market’s southern portion was given a reno throughout the early 1970s, avoiding the wrecking ball, unlike buildings to the north.

Queens Quay, 1974

Waterfront 8 - bridge path. - 1976

Photo: City of Toronto Archives

Dense residential development already existed along Queens Quay in the mid ’70s — but nothing like today.

Aerial view, 1973-1975

Photo: City of Toronto Archives

A much more low- and mid-rise concentrated Toronto.

Sunnyside, 1976

Waterfront 6 - bridge path. - 1976

Photo: City of Toronto Archives

Sunnyside Pool at a decidedly quiet moment in its nearly century-long history.

TTC Subway, 1976

Photo: City of Toronto Archives

Two key differences from contemporary commuting: the orange paneling indicates this photo was taken inside an H6 subway train — the last one was retired in 2014 — and riders aren’t crammed in elbow to elbow.

St. Lawrence Market, 1976

Photo: City of Toronto Archives

The Gooderham Building — the reddish brick flatiron in the centre — stands out in a sea of parking lots and washed out buildings.

Maple Leaf Gardens, 1977

Photo: City of Toronto Archives

From 1931 until the final face off in 1999, Maple Leaf Gardens was home to the Toronto Maple Leafs NHL franchise. It has since been declared a National Historic Site of Canada and is home to a Loblaws as well as Ryerson University’s Mattamy Athletic Centre.

Hard Rock Cafe, 1978-80

Job sites - Yonge St. project/Dundas Square.. - 1978-1980

Photo: City of Toronto Archives

The Hard Rock Cafe first opened its doors in Toronto in 1978. It was the international chain’s second location.

Dundas Square, 1978-80

Job sites - Yonge St. project/Dundas Square.. - 1978-1980

Photo: City of Toronto Archives

Yonge-Dundas Square opened in 2002, beginning a new chapter in the area’s history, as it was once the site of retailers, the likes of which still surround it.

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