A Look at Yonge-Dundas Square, Before it was a Square

Yonge Street has been changing and evolving for years, and we’d like to think we’re next in line to make a statement on this iconic street. Everything from the construction of the Yonge subway line, the development at Yonge and Eglinton, Aura rising to be the tallest residential building in Canada, and of course the creation of Yonge-Dundas Square, have all played a part in making our street a popular place to be.

As much of a staple that Yonge-Dundas Square is in this city, you’d be surprised to know that it hasn’t been around for that long. The square only officially opened in 2003, making it just 12 years old. So, what was there before? A number of private businesses were expropriated by the Toronto City Council to make way for the new public space, which would require the buildings on the site to be demolished.

As you can imagine, before the demolition things looked pretty different down at Yonge and Dundas. We dug deep into the City of Toronto Archives to give you an idea.

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Dundas Station under construction in 1953.

 

Yonge Street, Dundas Street to Queen Street. - June 23, 1970-July 25, 1984
Yonge and Dundas intersection in 1971.

Yonge Street, Dundas Street to Queen Street. - June 23, 1970-July 25, 1984
Looking north on Yonge Street in 1971.

Eaton Centre north side and interior construction. - May 11, 1977-September 29, 1984
View of Yonge Street from inside the Eaton Centre in 1977.

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

The old “Dundas Square” and Hard Rock Cafe in the late 1970s.

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

The Hard Rock Cafe in the late 1970s.

Job sites - Yonge St. project/Dundas Square.. - 1978-1980
Dundas Square in the late 1970s.


Job sites - Yonge St. project/Dundas Square.. - 1978-1980
Dundas Square in the late 1970s.

Now, Yonge-Dundas Square sees over 50 million people pass through it every single year and is host to some of our city’s biggest events like Pride Week, NXNE, and Luminato. Next time you’re in the square, remember these photos and try to picture what it looked like before!

All photos via City of Toronto Archives

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