I’ve yet to hear a glowing review of Toronto’s new street signs which have been slowly rolled out across the city since 2008. These new versions have been replacing all of the distinctive pre-amalgamation signs of North York, Etobicoke, Scarborough, East York, York and the old city of Toronto. The new signs are much better at displaying their moniker and the one-off design is much easier for the City to manage and afford. But the nostalgic side of me wishes this wasn’t so.
Since any battle to preserve the old street signs is a lost cause, I’ve tried to imagine a few ways to enhance the new designs. The top plate of the sign — one of three separate pieces that make up the modular design — is primarily used to display the City’s logo, a BIA logo or neighbourhood name. Its also the lone area of the sign where creativity can be applied.
The image at the top of this post, and the three designs below, use Toronto Archives’ photos captured along Bathurst Street. The top image is looking east from Bathurst along College Street (you can see the spire from a building at Spadina on the left side as well and the clock tower of the fire station in the middle). Using images from the city’s past can help highlight a neighbourhood’s historical significance or long forgotten past. The street signs around places like St. Lawrence Market, City Hall, the Financial District, or the Archives itself would be good candidates for this kind of treatment.
A family-owned meat shop in Kensington Market in the early 1900s.
A fruit and vegetable store in Kensington Market in the early 1970s.
Bathurst Station entrance and bus platform in the early 1970s.
Another potential use is to display icons that help identify nearby use of the area such as a schoolyard (above) or a bike lane (below).
And another potential way to use the sign: add the bike lane icon to the end of the street name, which is exactly what Vancouver does.
Now, I throw it back at Spacing readers: what other ways can the City build on their current street sign design? What are other ways to use the top plate of the sign?