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Yonge Street Revitalization (Downtown Yonge BIA/City of Toronto)

Lenser

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In some ways yes... were you even in Toronto 30 years ago? Toronto is slicker and more global today, no question, but in terms of music, comedy and the arts scene I'm not so sure the output today is as rich and organic as it was then. Rose coloured glasses, you say? Not sure, but it's certainly not as self-evident as you imply.

The only thing I can reasonably assured of is that one day our good friend ksun will find himself pining inexplicably for "the good old days."
 

Thanos

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In some ways yes... were you even in Toronto 30 years ago? Toronto is slicker and more global today, no question, but in terms of music, comedy and the arts scene I'm not so sure the output today is as rich and organic as it was then. Rose coloured glasses, you say? Not sure, but it's certainly not as self-evident as you imply.

As someone who visited Toronto quite a bit in the 80s and 90s, for me, it was far more dull back then. All my friends from Montreal always say how boring it was back then and how now it is far more entertaining. Then again that is just my opinion and I'm sure some of the old timers here will say i'm crazy.
 

ceaz40

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I hope someone can answer this question that has been in my mind for a while now. When I was in my teens, early 20's...so 1979 to early 80's....I remember being with friends driving up and down Yonge Street on a Friday or Saturday night along with the masses. It was everyone cruising north and south in cars, music blaring, car horns honking, etc. it would seem very immature and small town to me now but, back then to a young person it was very exciting. Does anyone know when that ended and what may have led to its demise?
 

renvel

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Drabinsky

As someone who visited Toronto quite a bit in the 80s and 90s, for me, it was far more dull back then. All my friends from Montreal always say how boring it was back then and how now it is far more entertaining. Then again that is just my opinion and I'm sure some of the old timers here will say i'm crazy.

I still regret the demise of Garth Drabinsky ...
 

DSC

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As someone who visited Toronto quite a bit in the 80s and 90s, for me, it was far more dull back then. All my friends from Montreal always say how boring it was back then and how now it is far more entertaining. Then again that is just my opinion and I'm sure some of the old timers here will say i'm crazy.

Your friends are right - I lived in Montreal between 1970 and 2000 and when I first visited Toronto in about 1973 it was like returning to the 1950s. No street life, bars where waiters had to carry beer for you from table to table (really!) and everyone looking 'drab". Things started to change in the early 1980s and now (though I still like Montreal, at least in summer!) Toronto is a far more visibly vibrant city.
 

JasonParis

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I hope someone can answer this question that has been in my mind for a while now. When I was in my teens, early 20's...so 1979 to early 80's....I remember being with friends driving up and down Yonge Street on a Friday or Saturday night along with the masses. It was everyone cruising north and south in cars, music blaring, car horns honking, etc. it would seem very immature and small town to me now but, back then to a young person it was very exciting. Does anyone know when that ended and what may have led to its demise?
I remember this very well until the mid-late 1990s. I actually have no idea what ended this, but don't feel it was anything official. Probably more of a cultural shift as Gen X'ers and following generations didn't have the same connection to Yonge Street, a waning fondness for cars and started migrating around the Entertainment District and eventually West Queen West instead. Both of which were probably less conducive to "cruising."
 

Ex-Montreal Girl

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I remember this very well until the mid-late 1990s. I actually have no idea what ended this, but don't feel it was anything official. Probably more of a cultural shift as Gen X'ers and following generations didn't have the same connection to Yonge Street, a waning fondness for cars and started migrating around the Entertainment District and eventually West Queen West instead. Both of which were probably less conducive to "cruising."

Good points plus the price of gas, and sprawl which meant that kids with cars, who probably mostly lived in the inner and outer burbs, had further to drive to get to drive.

Besides, cruising is so small town 1950s and 60s.
 

Tewder

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As someone who visited Toronto quite a bit in the 80s and 90s, for me, it was far more dull back then. All my friends from Montreal always say how boring it was back then and how now it is far more entertaining. Then again that is just my opinion and I'm sure some of the old timers here will say i'm crazy.

Well Montrealers were never really all that objective about Toronto to start with, viewing it as a cultural upstart in those days...

I'm curious though, what you or others feel does make Toronto so much more exciting today than in the 80s? The music scene? The arts? The street vibe? The Queer scene? I don't know, things might be more superficially exciting these days (more celebrity chef restaurants, bottle-service bars, U.S. retail chains, 5 star hotels and hipster haunts etc.) but the cultural scene has become way more corporate and way more homogenized (global), for all its greater ethnic diversity. Yonge and Queen streets are a snore now (and is Ossington really all that much better or different?), and people these days seem to get more jazzed about a new iPhone release or a new gluten-free cupcake bakery than they do a hot music venue or ground-breaking new band. I mean, is there any contemporary cultural phenomenon that would spark the equivalent of a Teenage Head riot? Any contemporary cultural moments that would compare to the Kids In the Hall at the Rivoli or Komrads during the bath-house raids era? And although fabulous are the Gladstone/Drake truly appreciably more culturally vibrant than the Bam Boo was say, or RPM? In other words, Ontario was indeed overwhelmingly vanilla then but it produced a counter culture in the city that wanted change. I'm not sure I get the same vibe here today.

*Also, let us agree to dismiss city size and scope as barometers. We all know that Toronto is bigger now, according to practically any and every metric. It's all relative anyway!
 

junctionist

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Your friends are right - I lived in Montreal between 1970 and 2000 and when I first visited Toronto in about 1973 it was like returning to the 1950s. No street life, bars where waiters had to carry beer for you from table to table (really!) and everyone looking 'drab". Things started to change in the early 1980s and now (though I still like Montreal, at least in summer!) Toronto is a far more visibly vibrant city.

Montreal probably was more vibrant overall back then, but Toronto had its areas. Yorkville in the 1960s and 70s looks damn vibrant in archival photos--filled with people day and night. What a scene for anglophone music in general that was with the likes of Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot and Joni Mitchell playing on its small stages.
 

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... or what about the Queen West music scene in the 80's? Is there something going on now that is a cultural equivalent that i am unaware of?
 

Jonny5

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I remember this very well until the mid-late 1990s. I actually have no idea what ended this, but don't feel it was anything official. Probably more of a cultural shift as Gen X'ers and following generations didn't have the same connection to Yonge Street, a waning fondness for cars and started migrating around the Entertainment District and eventually West Queen West instead. Both of which were probably less conducive to "cruising."

Perhaps the early 90's recession caused change? Jobs were scarce and I'm sure youth unemployment was much higher than the official rate. People in their 20's had much less discretionary income. This would coincide with the rise of Grunge culture in Canada, which was less interested on cruising streets in cars and more about opposing or challenging existing values.
 

freshcutgrass

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Well Montrealers were never really all that objective about Toronto to start with

Montreal could be a nothing more than a smouldering post-apocalyptical ruin, and it would still say it is better than TO.

A Montrealers opinion of Toronto is worth less than Rob Ford's opinion of streetcars.
 

ksun

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The only thing I can reasonably assured of is that one day our good friend ksun will find himself pining inexplicably for "the good old days."

haha, I doubt it.
I love larger and busier cities. I think Toronto will only get better.
30 years ago I was barely walking but what I heard is even 20 years ago, Toronto was a much smaller city, where Spadina av and Jarvis st will would called west and east end. I doubt such a tiny city can be that fun.
 

Lenser

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Oh, you'd be surprised. But see, I was talking more about what will happen to you personally in 20 years' time. Never mind - let's revisit it in 2034, shall we?
 

Jonny5

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I was talking more about what will happen to you personally in 20 years' time. Never mind - let's revisit it in 2034, shall we?

I picture ksun on the GO train riding to his house in Stoufville getting a text from his wife asking him to pick up a tray of baked ziti and a box of wine for dinner.
 

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