Toronto’s Visual Legacy: Official City Photography From 1856 to Present

Lorimer (2009)

Twenty-five fascinating images that offer a 360º panorama of the Toronto's downtown in 1856-57 mark the beginning of the use of photographs to document Toronto's growth, its achievements, its great civic works, and its citizenry. Since 1856, the City of Toronto has been commissioning photographs to document and to promote it.

This book, published to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the city's incorporation, brings together more than 100 of these images, selected by city archivists from their collection of hundreds of thousands.

Waterworks, roads, and bridges, many of them familiar landmarks today, are seen as they are being built. The Bloor Street Viaduct, the R. C. Harris water filtration plant, and the old and new city halls are all celebrated in these images.

Toronto's citizens are also captured in these photographs, going about their affairs on the street, as proud workers, or as spectators at public events. At times, in an effort to raise public concern about poverty and poor housing conditions, city photographers have documented conditions for residents in low-income neighbourhoods. Some of these photographs are included here, in an impressive series of poignant images.

In the past fifty years, as Toronto has grown into the cosmopolitan metropolis it is now, city photographers have recorded the construction of key projects like the Yonge Street subway, the new City Hall and the CN Tower while documenting major public events and celebrations.

This book offers a visual overview of Toronto's history and at the same time documents attitudes and values expressed by City officials, from 1857 to the present.

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