As the city’s main thoroughfare, Yonge Street — arguably Toronto’s most famous street — is itself considered a major landmark. It was, after all, once known as the longest street in the world until provincial changes in the 1990s separated it from Highway 11 which continues north towards the Minnesota/Ontario border.

In the 1970s, Yonge Street went through a seedy phase as porn theatres and strip clubs lined the stretch between Bloor Street and Queen Street and the area was plagued by drugs and crime. The infamous murder of shoeshine boy Emanuel Jaques sparked the turnaround of the area and prompted efforts to clean up the street. Today, the Yonge Street corridor from Bloor Street to Queens Quay is lined with shops, restaurants, office buildings and row upon row of shiny new condo towers.

As we’ve done with other Toronto streets including King Street West, Queen Street East and Bathurst Street, we’ve compared archival photos from the City of Toronto, Toronto Public Library and Flickr users (as credited) with present day shots. Part one of this series covers Yonge Street from Bloor to Dundas, while Part two will feature the area between Queen Street and Queens Quay to the south.

Yonge Street and Bloor Street West, 1971

Looking towards the northeast corner of Yonge Street and Bloor Street West, 1971

Grosvenor Hotel, Yonge Street and Alexander Street, 1953

College Park, Yonge Street and College Street, 1950

Yonge Street at Gerrard Street, 1950

Yonge Street looking south from Walton Street, 1970s

Yonge Street and Gould Street, 1950

Yonge Street and Gould Street looking northeast, 2008

Historical photo: rfmcdonald/Flickr

Yonge Street looking north from south of Dundas Street, 1973

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