Back when Danforth was a frontier town
Three photos show how the now booming commercial trip first opened up to Toronto
Back about 1908, the west end of what was to become the Danforth Avenue strip known as Greektown resembled nothing more than an isolated frontier town — with its sparse building and a long, muddy main street traversed by horse-drawn carriages.
And it was isolated, cut off from the burgeoning metropolis of Toronto across the Don Valley. The viaduct that spanned the valley was still a decade from being built. The old photo shows the western border of the town on the east side of the valley, with the foreground showing the muddy trail that wound down into the valley from there.
The only recognizable building is the beginning of Playter’s Society Hall, the rounded building occupying the southeast corner of Danforth and Broadview in the right of the photograph.
By about 1916 when the second photo was taken, just two years before the opening of the viaduct, the trail into the valley has grown over with bushes and weeds. But a new landmark building has arrived: the pillared bank building, now a CIBC branch, on the northeast corner at the left of the photo. And the street beyond Broadview is now paved and tracked for trolleys.
Today, of course, the viaduct provides a steady stream of traffic entering and leaving East York and Riverdale via Danforth and Bloor Street. And of course, starting with those two “cornerstone” buildings from the earlier era, the Danforth strip is a bustling commercial concern.
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