Today’s Star contains an article beginning a series about the hidden corners of the TTC with a look at the ghost station at Queen and Yonge. This was built back in the 50s with the Yonge Subway, and passengers crossing between the northbound and southbound platforms walk through an underpass on the platform level of that station.
Back in 1968, a few years after the original Keele-Woodbine section of the Bloor-Danforth subway had opened, the TTC was thinking about the Queen Street subway. One proposal floated through the Commission for streetcar subway through downtown operation. The full report is interesting reading because clearly, in 1968, the TTC was still thinking of new ways to use its streetcars.
The proposal was for a subway from west of Sherbourne to east of Spadina. Schemes for streetcar subways had been around for a while, and I described an earlier one in a post last year.
The report throws cold water on this scheme saying that it would not materially improve the capacity of the streetcar line, and it is clear their sympathies lie with a full subway scheme. Things did not change much for decades thereafter. It is worth noting that in the late 1960s, there were more than 60 cars/hour on Queen Street east of Yonge. Today, the service is equivalent to 23 cars/hour allowing for the larger size of the ALRVs.
There were three options for a Queen subway all of which involved streetcar operation. I have scanned the map for the all-subway option, and the others are not much different. Note that this map dates from the early 1970s by which time the Queen Street subway scheme ran up into Don Mills. The initial phase for each version was:
- A full subway under Queen initially from Roncesvalles to nearly Leslie, turning north alongside Greenwood Yard , up Donlands to O’Connor [later proposed to go north across the Don Valley to Don Mills and Eglinton]. Streetcars would terminate at Sunnyside in the west, and near Leslie in the east.
- A full subway under Queen from University to Leslie, then turning north as described in the first option. Streetcars would continue on the surface over the entire Queen route.
- The same subway as described in (2), but with through “Queen” service running across the city via King Street.
In the second phase, the subway would be extended west roughly to Humber Loop. Why anyone would terminate a subway there is beyond me, but that was the plan. An isolated streetcar line would run from Humber west through Long Branch.
Each subway alignment had various options including:
- A route from Greenwood Yard to Queen via the CNR right-of-way.
- Widening Queen Street by demolition of buildings on the north side. This was long before Queen West became the destination it is today, but it is hard to imagine the city all new development from downtown to Sunnyside along Queen.
- Building the subway (except through the heart of downtown) behind the existing buildings on Queen much as the Bloor-Danforth line runs behind buildings for much of its length north of Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue.
The report contains a few other points of interest:
- There is reference to a proposed mall or promenade in the downtown area connecting with the Yonge station on the Queen line. This is the beginning of what we now call the PATH system. Old City Hall had not been saved yet, and there was to be a major development (the Eaton Centre) where it stands. This would have provided the jumping off point for the “mall”.
- The report states clearly that a “ghost station” does not exist at University Avenue, only piers to support the existing Osgoode Station if a new line were to pass under it.
Instead of the Queen Subway, we got the North Yonge line and other forays into the suburbs. Several regular correspondents here will disagree with me, but in the long run the city came out on top. We kept Queen Street intact, we still have our streetcars (although at only a shadow of their former service level), and finally we have a chance to expand an LRT network into the suburbs.