In the early days of North York Township, transportation options were limited. Yonge Street was the main thoroughfare through the township. The radial railway ran on Yonge Street, providing service to the various villages dotted along the route. Other communities in North York, such as Downsview, Oriole, and Fairbank, were served by either dirt or gravel roads.
Things began to change in the 1950s with the construction of arterial roads. Highway 400 opened in December 1951, and from 1952 to 1956, the 401 was completed from Weston Road to Bayview Avenue in stages. The Don Valley Parkway opened in segments from 1961 to 1966. Highway 404, the northern extension of the DVP, opened in 1977. These arterial roads, in conjunction with various railways traversing North York, made the township very attractive to industrial and commercial enterprises looking for space and accessibility.
The Spadina Expressway was another highway proposed in the 1950s to link downtown Toronto with the northwest part of North York. Part of the route was built, between Lawrence and Wilson avenues, but massive protest against the further southward continuation of the highway resulted in the cancellation of the project by Premier Bill Davis in June 1971. This did not sit well with Esther Shiner, who ran for election to the North York borough council in 1972 on a platform to complete the construction of the Spadina Expressway. Shiner’s election campaign was successful, and as an alderman, she was able to claim some victory when the road was extended south to Eglinton Avenue in 1975. The portion of the expressway that did get built was renamed the William R. Allen Expressway in 1969, and the name was further revised to the William R. Allen Road in 1980.
Automobiles and transport trucks benefitted greatly from new road construction, but public transit made significant gains in North York as well. By March 1973, the Yonge subway line had been extended northwards from Eglinton to York Mills Station. The work was completed in March 1974 with the opening of Sheppard and Finch stations. In the west, the Spadina subway between St. George and Wilson stations opened in January 1978, while in the east the Sheppard subway, between Sheppard-Yonge and Don Mills station was completed in 2002. Finally the Spadina line was extended beyond the Downsview station (opened in March 1996), all the way to the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre in December 2017.