Yorkville then and now: University Theatre

August 16th, 2012

Today, Yorkville is known for its upscale boutiques including Louis Vuitton, Prada and Gucci as well as for its luxury hotels such as the Four Seasons and the Park Hyatt. In addition, Yorkville is also home to Exhibit and Crystal Blu condominiums.

Back in the 1970’s however, the area was once home to a number of cinemas including University theatre.

The University Theatre was once the largest movie house in Canada and was also a centre for the Toronto International Film Festival. It was located on Bloor Street just west of Yonge Street and was one of Toronto’s premier cinemas.

Opened in 1949, the University Theatre was a single screen theatre that housed 1300 people and was a popular venue for cinema fans throughout the 1950’s all the way through to the 1970’s. However, as the 1980’s rolled around, multiplexes became more popular and single screen cinemas became less economic.

In 1981, Famous Players made the decision to demolish the theatre and in response,  film enthusiasts and heritage groups waged a campaign to keep the cinema open. This delayed its closing for several years but it was eventually torn down in 1986. Today a Pottery Barn stands where the University theatre used to be.