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Illuminated Toronto street signs


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Apr 23, 2007
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Hey UT forumers,

Am I dreaming this? Did Toronto not have, up until recently, small sign boxes with backlit plastic at some intersections for street signs? They were a yellow field with black lettering...even had the little vents on the sides to allow air-cooling...I remember some at Yonge and St Clair along with the much newer large blue metal ones.

I need to get a picture of one of these 1960s (or are they 70s?) relics.

Can anyone direct me to an intersection?


Dave LeBlanc
We are.

The intersection of Bloor and Markham as well as Queen and Bay. Here's pics I have on my Flickr.


The trouble with those illuminated street signs was that LED light bulbs were not available at the time. Incandescent bulbs were used. It also meant electrical connections had to be made and electricity used, the bulbs had to be replaced (if noticed), and were subject to weather (short circuits).
Thanks everyone!

If/when I mention these in an upcoming column, I'll thank for the help!

Love that those illuminated ones are from the 60s.....and Centennial year to boot.


Dave LeBlanc
it's the little things like these signs that add character to the city.
I remember them on Danforth too, but I'm pretty sure they have all been removed now from various BIA sign initiatives.

EDIT: Wait, looks like there's still some around.
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Yet Torontonians often don't notice these details. Do we even have a name for those distinctive street lights with the curved arms that shine white light? They're simple but elegant.

i can't remember right now the name of that style but i know the present style is cobra head.
i can't remember right now the name of that style but i know the present style is cobra head.

Actually, now I recall them being referred to as "acorn" lights, though they used look more like acorns back in the incandescent days before they were retrofitted with the rounder fixtures with metal halide bulbs. There are several versions of the cobra head, the most common of which in Toronto look somewhat cheap and inelegant with their extreme upward slope, bulky head, and grey arm. Among Modernist styles, I prefer the Gardiner's original cobra heads (though they'd probably look inappropriate in a non-expressway setting), the Financial District's black lights, and arc lights, though the latter are more common in Montreal and certain American cities where overhead wires are extensively buried.