I am super-excited to share Retro 1966, a new Toronto subway t-shirt family portraying the 36 stations of TTC’s original route map. Every design can be custom-made for adult, kids, and onesie infant styles.
For a brief few months in 1966, every route overlapped with another route, and each route’s colour was unique to that arrangement. At first glance, the Retro 1966 shirts look a lot like today’s subway shirts, but there are some obvious differences.
Each design has “1966” added below the station’s name, while all lettering is set in the vintage gold hue the TTC used back then. Also, each of the three routes in 1966 used bold, modernist colours not seen since: navy blue, avocado green, and tangerine (or blood orange).
Each design for Retro 1966 is strictly limited edition. After 100 shirts, they will be retired forever.
How was 1966 different?
Back before the TTC adopted the familiar subway routing we know today, there were a few months in 1966 when route names, line colours, and train destinations were very dramatically different.
When the Bloor-Danforth line opened from Keele to Woodbine, the TTC adopted a variable routing for each train, depending on where it originated and where it was going. So while Yonge trains today only show “Downsview” or “Finch” when arriving to the platform, a train arriving to the same platform in 1966 might have showed one of a few destinations, such as “Keele”, “Eglinton”, or “Woodbine”.
Station platforms had ceiling-mounted signs which every few minutes (in all their mechanical glory) rolled through panels until they showed the next train’s destination. These days, those signs are vestigial reminders of 1966, staying fixed permanently on either Finch, Downsview, Kipling, or Kennedy.
“Wye” not Bay Lower?
Westbound 1966 routes sent some trains heading either west or south at Bay-Yorkville station at what was called a “wye” junction. This is why the legendary “Bay Lower” station, now closed from the public, was designed as a regular platform. Trains arriving into Bay-Yorkville station would either head east (on the upper level), west, or south to Museum, depending on the route. At Museum, northbound trains could either travel east to Bay-Yorkville’s lower platform or west to St. George.
After nine months of this routing, the TTC chose to end the “wye” junction. The Bay Lower platform was closed, and the connection between Museum and Bay was no longer used for daily service. The familiar yellow and green lines were adopted.