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The evolution of two lively Toronto neighbourhoods: Yorkville and Yonge-Dundas.

Shoppers in Toronto's upscale Yorkville district.


Now: Sleek Shopping Mecca

Over the years, Yorkville’s coffee houses and counterculture have segued into multimillion dollar condos, spas and designer boutiques. Yesterday’s bohemian scene is today’s shopping mecca, with Tiffany & Co., Burberry, Prada, Hermès and Calvin Klein outposts.

Woman walks in Yorkville in the nineteen-seventies.

Then: Bohemian Hot Spot

At Yorkville’s circa-1960s peak, poets and musicians flocked to the neighbourhood’s coffee houses. Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen and Gwendolyn MacEwan read poetry at places like the Purple Onion and Penny Farthing. At the Riverboat, you could rub shoulders with Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot, and even international stars like Simon & Garfunkel and John Lee Hooker.

Street performer on stilts at Yonge-Dundas Square.


Now: Town Square 2.0

Inspired by the similarly facelifted Times Square, post-millennium Yonge-Dundas Square is a vibrant, tourist-luring nexus that combines entertainment, shopping and dining. The square hosts City Cinema outdoor movie nights, cultural festivals such as Franco-Fête, and live concerts from various NXNE (June 15 to 19, 2016) performers.

Yonge Street in the seventies, including A&A Records sign and Sam The Record Man sign.

Then: Neon Market

A neon streetscape courtesy of Sam the Record Man and other brightly illuminated music stores, circa-1980s Yonge and Dundas broadcast the boisterous energy of its nearby pinball arcades and street buskers.