Bloor & Spadina Was Pretty Beautiful Back in 1933 by Adam Bunch

This is Bloor Street, just west of Spadina, in the summer of 1933. By then, it already been about 50 years since the Annex was annexed into the city of Toronto. But the growth hadn't stopped there, of course. By the time the 1920s rolled around, the city had begun to swallow up villages and neighbourhoods even further north, spreading up the escarpment into places like Moore Park and Forest Hill, and west too, through Parkdale. That's when we decided that our transportation system should be amalgamated as well: the TTC was officially born and a brand new fleet of streetcars hit the roads of Toronto.

You can see them here in the middle of the photo. They're called Peter Witt streetcars, named after the guy from Cleveland who designed them in the early 1900s. We had a few hundred of them, which apparently makes us one of their best-known homes, but they also appeared in cities all over North America and Europe: New York, Chicago, Detroit, Mexico City, Madrid, Naples, Milan... The TTC used them for about forty years, finally taking the last ones out of commission in the '60s, but in Milan, they are still about two hundred Peter Witt streetcars gliding through the streets, painted bright orange. A few of them have even made their way from Milan to the United States, where they grace the hills of San Francisco.

Here are a few more photos of the Peter Witts. (You can find even more here, read more about the streetcars on Transit Toronto here or in Agatha Barc's blogTO post here. You can also watch a little video of one of the streetcars in action here from the Halton County Radial Railway Museum, where they've got one you can ride.)

The Peter Witts ran on different tracks from the ones we had before
Posted by Adam Bunch, the Editor-in-Chief of the Little Red Umbrella and the creator of the Toronto Dreams Project. You can read his posts here, follow him on Twitter here, or email him at

This post originally appeared on the Toronto Dreams Project Historical Ephemera Blog, which tells stories about the history of Toronto. You can read more highlights from it here, or visit it yourself here.


Ben said...

I wish that Lansdowne still had streetcars; they look so beautiful cresting the hill south of Dundas, winding their way toward Queen.

Unfortunately we'll be stuck with those weak-assed buses until the end of time.

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