Ever wondered what used to sit on your street corner 50 years ago? How about 100 years ago? The old streetcars, the eloquent fashion? Horse-drawn carriages, wide streets and colourful neon signs? First Nations people still somehow unable to vote? Well, maybe you haven’t, but if you’re even the slightest bit curious, now you can find out.
Created by Sidewalk Labs, Old Toronto is an open-source, interactive map tool that allows users to browse through the City of Toronto Archives and view over 30,000 historic photographs. With photos dating back to 1856, Old Toronto’s goal is “to help Torontonians discover something new about their street or city.” While there are a variety of interesting shots of the city over the last hundred years, a common theme is the number of green spaces and subsequently, the lack of now-dominant high-rises. Personally, I love seeing the history of the city I live and go to school in. With a click of my mouse, I’m able to find out what the Toronto Harbourfront looked like in the 1930s and see Front Street in the 1950s.
While I’m easily distracted by the historic shots of the city, I was also interested in exploring the familiar name of the company that created this tool: Sidewalk Labs.Using a process known as “geocoding,” Sidewalk Labs were able to use the titles of archived photos to give them a latitude and longitude for mapping purposes. However, they weren’t the first to use this technology for mapping the city’s archives. OldNYC was created by two New York engineers who turned it into a mobile app for people to investigate as they move th rough the city.
This article was commissioned from Unaffilaited Press.- Written by Staff Columnist Jennifer Sidoriak. Check out their site here.
Old Toronto is an open-source, interactive map tool that allows users to browse through the City of Toronto Archives and view over 30,000 historic photographs. With photos dating back to 1856, Old Toronto’s goal is “to help Torontonians discover something new about their street or city.”
660-658 Bloor West east of Manning 1981-1985.
Gould looking west to Yonge 1977-1982
Honest Ed's on Bloor looking east from Markham 1984-1990
West side of Lassonde Building at King's College Road 1993
Yonge looking south to Gould 1977-1985
Gould Street looking west to Yonge, 1980s, featuring Sam the Tape Man, an additional Sam the Record Man property. Ryerson’s modern SLC library building now occupies the space.