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Mapping 11 of Toronto's Most Iconic Signs

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With the news that the much-missed Sam the Record Man sign will soon shine down on Yonge Street again, Curbed Toronto takes a look at some other iconic signs from around the city. Are there any we've missed? Feel free to weigh in with your own favourites.


· Curbed Map Archives [Curbed Toronto]

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1. Honest Ed's

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581 Bloor Street West, Toronto
ON M6G 1K3, Canada

Its 23,000 flashing lightbulbs have been cheesily illuminating the corner of Bloor and Bathurst for nearly thirty years, but maybe not for much longer. Last year, Vancouver developer Westbank bought the building and the block Honest Ed's sits on; no word yet on their plans for the site, but it's probably safe to say the sign's not going to stick around.

2. Club Zanzibar

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359 Yonge Street, Toronto
ON M5B 1S1, Canada

One of Toronto's few remaining peeler bars, the Zanzibar's hot-pink neon still lures in frat boys and stag-partygoers desperate to chug outrageously-priced beer while watching naked ladies.

3. El Mocambo

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464 Spadina Avenue, Toronto
ON M5T 2G8, Canada

The El Mocambo's neon palm tree was installed in 1946. The club itself has had a rocky time of it in the last couple of decades, changing hands like a bad penny, but it always manages to survive. It's on the market again, after the most recent sale fell through.

4. CHUM sign

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250 Richmond Street West, Toronto
ON M5V, Canada

CHUM's AM and FM radio stations broadcasted the latest hits to generations of Torontonians. When the parent company closed CHUM's Yonge Street studio in Midtown, the familiar neon sign was dismantled and eventually installed on the Bell Media building in the Entertainment District.

5. Square Boy

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875 Danforth Avenue, Toronto
ON M4J 1L8, Canada

Serving up souvlaki and square burgers since the 60s, the Square Boy sign perfectly captures their food-design esthetic (their slogan: "four more bites"). It gets consistently good reviews, too, which is always nice for a classic diner.

6. Filmore's

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212 Dundas Street East, Toronto
ON M5A 1Z7, Canada

Second in our strip-club offerings. Filmores (note the missing apostrophe) sits at the bend of Dundas Street East, close to Sherbourne, and its seediness is legendary. Interestingly, its hotel half has a five-star rating on Yelp.

7. Massey Hall

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178 Victoria Street, Toronto
ON M5B 1T7, Canada

Massey Hall's glowing red neon sign shines down on Shuter Street. It isn't the biggest on this list, but it hangs in front of the most historic concert venue in town. The sign's been in place since at least the 70s.

8. The Senator

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249 Victoria Street, Toronto
ON M5B 1V8, Canada

The Senator is the oldest continuously-operating restaurant in Toronto. Is it a diner? An elegant dining establishment? It's been both, plus a jazz club. Their neon sign is a cozy Victoria Street icon.

9. Fairmont Royal York

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100 Front Street West, Toronto
ON M5J, Canada

The "Fairmont Royal York" sign was added to the Royal York Hotel's rooftop back in 2003, replacing the original script-y "Royal York" neon. Its red glow is a familiar sight to travellers on the Gardiner, but there may be another name change in the works if rumours of the hotel being put up for sale are true.

10. Gio Rana's (The Nose)

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1220 Queen Street East, Toronto
ON M4M 1L7, Canada

The Nose! It's moved from the east end (the Beach) to midtown (Yonge Street) and now looks down itself at the corner of Queen and Leslie; Gio's was one of the restaurants that launched Leslieville's renewal.

11. Sam the Record Man

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347 Yonge Street, Toronto
ON M5B, Canada

No list of iconic Toronto signs is complete without mentioning the spinning neon discs of the late, lamented Sam the Record Man sign. When the store closed and Ryerson University took over the property, they promised to install the sign on their new building. That promise fell through, though, and the sign languished in storage. Word's now out that the discs will spin again; the sign's to be installed next year on top of a building near Yonge and Dundas streets.

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1. Honest Ed's

581 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON M6G 1K3, Canada

Its 23,000 flashing lightbulbs have been cheesily illuminating the corner of Bloor and Bathurst for nearly thirty years, but maybe not for much longer. Last year, Vancouver developer Westbank bought the building and the block Honest Ed's sits on; no word yet on their plans for the site, but it's probably safe to say the sign's not going to stick around.

581 Bloor Street West, Toronto
ON M6G 1K3, Canada

2. Club Zanzibar

359 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M5B 1S1, Canada

One of Toronto's few remaining peeler bars, the Zanzibar's hot-pink neon still lures in frat boys and stag-partygoers desperate to chug outrageously-priced beer while watching naked ladies.

359 Yonge Street, Toronto
ON M5B 1S1, Canada

3. El Mocambo

464 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, ON M5T 2G8, Canada

The El Mocambo's neon palm tree was installed in 1946. The club itself has had a rocky time of it in the last couple of decades, changing hands like a bad penny, but it always manages to survive. It's on the market again, after the most recent sale fell through.

464 Spadina Avenue, Toronto
ON M5T 2G8, Canada

4. CHUM sign

250 Richmond Street West, Toronto, ON M5V, Canada

CHUM's AM and FM radio stations broadcasted the latest hits to generations of Torontonians. When the parent company closed CHUM's Yonge Street studio in Midtown, the familiar neon sign was dismantled and eventually installed on the Bell Media building in the Entertainment District.

250 Richmond Street West, Toronto
ON M5V, Canada

5. Square Boy

875 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, ON M4J 1L8, Canada

Serving up souvlaki and square burgers since the 60s, the Square Boy sign perfectly captures their food-design esthetic (their slogan: "four more bites"). It gets consistently good reviews, too, which is always nice for a classic diner.

875 Danforth Avenue, Toronto
ON M4J 1L8, Canada

6. Filmore's

212 Dundas Street East, Toronto, ON M5A 1Z7, Canada

Second in our strip-club offerings. Filmores (note the missing apostrophe) sits at the bend of Dundas Street East, close to Sherbourne, and its seediness is legendary. Interestingly, its hotel half has a five-star rating on Yelp.

212 Dundas Street East, Toronto
ON M5A 1Z7, Canada

7. Massey Hall

178 Victoria Street, Toronto, ON M5B 1T7, Canada

Massey Hall's glowing red neon sign shines down on Shuter Street. It isn't the biggest on this list, but it hangs in front of the most historic concert venue in town. The sign's been in place since at least the 70s.

178 Victoria Street, Toronto
ON M5B 1T7, Canada

8. The Senator

249 Victoria Street, Toronto, ON M5B 1V8, Canada

The Senator is the oldest continuously-operating restaurant in Toronto. Is it a diner? An elegant dining establishment? It's been both, plus a jazz club. Their neon sign is a cozy Victoria Street icon.

249 Victoria Street, Toronto
ON M5B 1V8, Canada

9. Fairmont Royal York

100 Front Street West, Toronto, ON M5J, Canada

The "Fairmont Royal York" sign was added to the Royal York Hotel's rooftop back in 2003, replacing the original script-y "Royal York" neon. Its red glow is a familiar sight to travellers on the Gardiner, but there may be another name change in the works if rumours of the hotel being put up for sale are true.

100 Front Street West, Toronto
ON M5J, Canada

10. Gio Rana's (The Nose)

1220 Queen Street East, Toronto, ON M4M 1L7, Canada

The Nose! It's moved from the east end (the Beach) to midtown (Yonge Street) and now looks down itself at the corner of Queen and Leslie; Gio's was one of the restaurants that launched Leslieville's renewal.

1220 Queen Street East, Toronto
ON M4M 1L7, Canada

11. Sam the Record Man

347 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M5B, Canada

No list of iconic Toronto signs is complete without mentioning the spinning neon discs of the late, lamented Sam the Record Man sign. When the store closed and Ryerson University took over the property, they promised to install the sign on their new building. That promise fell through, though, and the sign languished in storage. Word's now out that the discs will spin again; the sign's to be installed next year on top of a building near Yonge and Dundas streets.

347 Yonge Street, Toronto
ON M5B, Canada