A Brief History of Toronto

In 1793, the city of Toronto was born. It was not nearly as large as it is today, but it was a very exciting and wonderful place to be! Toronto was just a little town by the harbour and it was called Fort York. It got this name in honour of the Duke of York. Not long after Fort York was established it became the capital of what was then Upper Canada. Three years later in 1796, Yonge Street was built. Today, Yonge Street is the longest street in the world and continues for 1,900 kilometers. The name was changed from Fort York to Toronto in 1834 and at the time had 9,000 inhabitants. It was then that the city began to come alive!

Yonge Street in 1903

Yonge street in 1903

Since the mid-nineteenth century, Toronto has been a growing business metropolitan area. In the 1840s and 1850s, there was a rapid increase in its urbanization with steamboat port activity and railway building. In 1867, Toronto was named the capital of Ontario. Less than 30 years later in 1891 the population of the city rose to over 150,000 people. Toronto became a hub for industrialization during the late nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century, which was due to the railroads, steamboats, mines, and forests.

After World War II, the the city saw significant growth.  By 1951, the population of the city reached over one million. Following this, the metropolitan government and subway system was created, and suburbs were established.

In 1976, after 40 months of construction, the CN Tower became open to the public. Today, the CN Tower is the world’s tallest building at 553.33 meters (1,815 feet and 5 inches). By 1998, Toronto was officially known as a “megacity”. At a population of 2.4 million, it was known as the fifth largest city in North America.

In 2012, Toronto laid claim to being the fourth largest city in North America, pushing Chicago out of the way. According to Statistics Canada, there are 2,791,140 people that now live here.  Many of the things that made Toronto such a great city then are the same things that make Toronto a great city today!

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