Wednesday, February 15, 2017

bonus features: opening the eaton centre

This post offers supplementary material for an article I recently wrote for Torontoist, which you should read before diving into this post.

gm 1974-06-21 timetable race begins for eaton centre
Globe and Mail, June 21, 1974. Click on image for larger version.
Based on the following description published in the Star in late 1972, the Eaton Centre replaced what was then a barren stretch of Dundas Street.

The south side of Dundas between Bay and Yonge at present offers one of the more dismal views downtown. Two Italian restaurants are the only bright spots on a block made up chiefly of parking lots and a rent-a-car lot and garage. The vista through the parking lots is of Eaton's drab box-like warehouses. 

The same article mentioned an interesting land trade that didn't happen, which some people might interpret as an early 1970s example of "the war on the car" and definitely indicates the regular tension between the city and Metro levels of government. Parkland that was set aside near Trinity Square could have been somewhere else on the property...

The developers had originally offered the city a strip of land along Dundas, but the city rejected the proposal because this land would simply have been acquired by Metro Toronto (which controls Dundas St.) to widen Dundas to six lanes. Metro planners had called for the street widening to support the increased traffic Eaton Centre might be expected to generate; but the city objected, because a widened Dundas on the other side of Bay would have wiped out Chinatown.

(Chinatown moved west along Dundas to Spadina over the next few years, but that's another story.)

In a victory for the city, Metro reversed itself and Dundas will only be widened 14 feet along the Eaton Centre stretch, to provide one extra turning lane for cars entering the development's parking garage. On the insistence of Alderman John Sewell, the city also required Fairview to set its buildings back 10 feet from the street, so that the sidewalk can be widened.

gm 1977-01-08 eatons ad
Globe and Mail, January 8, 1977.
gm 1977-01-11 eatons ad
Globe and Mail, January 11, 1977.
gm 1977-01-13 eatons ad
Globe and Mail, January 13, 1977. Click on image for larger version.

A sampling of the ads Eaton's published in the weeks leading up to the opening of their new flagship store. 

gm 1977-01-15 eaton store preview ad
Globe and Mail, January 15, 1977. Click on image for larger version.

A guide to the new Eaton's store, floor by floor. There would be some tinkering; the "Annex 7" floor opened in October 1977 to clear out items a la the old bargain store behind Old City Hall.  The space, which had been buying offices, was converted, as a store executive put it, into "an adventure area for bargain hunters" that included opportunity buys and scratch-and-dent items.

I'm not sure at what point 3 Below (which was located where the food court currently sits) closed. I don't recall ever going into it as a kid in the late 1970s/early 1980s (eager-beaver me would have wanted to visit every floor), and dimly recall signs indicating it was an employee-only area. 

gm 1977-02-09 photo
Globe and Mail, February 9, 1977. Click on image for larger version.

A shot inside the mall published on the eve of its opening.

sun 1977-02-09 eatons opening ad
Toronto Sun, February 9, 1977. Click on image for larger version.

The next series of images are a 12-page advertising supplement published in the Star two days before the grand opening. For ease of reading, I've merged the diagrams which were pages 6 and 7 of the original version.

star 1977-02-08 opening supplement p1

star 1977-02-08 opening supplement p2 credits for who built the store

star 1977-02-08 opening supplement p3

star 1977-02-08 opening supplement p4

star 1977-02-08 opening supplement p5

star 1977-02-08 opening supplement p6-7

star 1977-02-08 opening supplement p8 great pic headline

star 1977-02-08 opening supplement p9

star 1977-02-08 opening supplement p10

star 1977-02-08 opening supplement p11

star 1977-02-08 opening supplement p12
Toronto Star, February 8, 1977. Click on images for larger versions.
I compared the opening day store listing with a current directory, and found seven retail/service brands that are still in the mall, though not all of them have been present at all times since 1977. They are A&W, Birks, Brown’s, Le Chateau, Shoppers Drug Mart, TD, and Town Shoes.

Additional material from the October 14, 1977 edition of the Globe and Mail, and the November 24, 1972 edition of the Toronto Star.

No comments: