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A friend told me that the stretch of Yonge Street from Gerrard to Queen was pedestrianized in the ’70s

A friend told me that the stretch of Yonge Street from Gerrard to Queen was pedestrianized in the ’70s. Is he right? —Adrian Ho, Yorkville

Former police chief William McCormack describes this strip in the ’60s as one lined with “hotels that rented rooms by the hour (no questions asked), flophouses that harboured homeless men, and crummy little shops that sold used office furniture, sex appliances, army surplus and cheesy designer knock-offs.” Perhaps in an effort to exile the sleaze from our main street, Yonge was converted into a mall for four bell-bottom-era summers, from 1971 to ’74. Potted trees were imported, temporary fountains bubbled, and beer flowed freely. After a couple of calm, festive years, the drunks and rowdies began to reassert their sovereignty. In 1974, there were over 1,200 arrests, for everything from indecent exposure to attempted murder, and the city shut down the mall. Today only neglected concrete tree planters on area side streets remain from the fest.

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