With all the hoopla about yet another new transit plan for Toronto, it’s time to remember that the 50th birthday of the Bloor-Danforth subway is coming up in a week’s time. Depending on which event you consider the “real” birthday, it will either be Thursday, February 25 (the anniversary of the ceremonial opening) or Friday, February 26 (the first day of revenue service).
Over the next week I will post some ephemera from that era when Toronto launched on a major subway building project.
The handout below was a publicity piece for the Bloor-Danforth-University subway project. Among items of interest are:
- The expected construction time was 9 years broken down as the University Line (3.5), Greenwood to University including Greenwood Yard (4), and the remaining pieces east from Greenwood to Woodbine, and West from St. George to Keele (2.5). Almost all of the line was built cut-and-cover , and the city expropriated a swath of houses along most of the route to the north of Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue. This strip is now home to parking lots, a few parks, subway entrances, and the occasional new building sitting right on top of the subway.
- The original completion date to the terminals at Woodbine and Keele was planned to be 1969, but work was accelerated thanks to additional funding from the Metropolitan Toronto government and Queen’s Park.
- The paintings showing what the new stations would look like date from 1956 and 1957, before the project had been approved by Metro Council.
- The map of the route includes the original names for most of the stations including Vincent, Walmer and Yorkville. By the time this was printed, “Willowvale” Station had already changed to “Christie”, but the park to the west retained its original name.
The station illustrations are by Sigmund Serafin whose work also shows up in samples of the original Yonge line station designs. Of the four stations shown here, none was built exactly as shown. You can see the full set on Transit Toronto. The eight water colours were rescued from a housecleaning binge at the TTC in the late 1960s when much material went into various private collections lest it simply disappear. These paintings are now back with the TTC who plan to issue them as posters later this year, and the originals will go to the City Archives.
Here is Bloor-Yonge Station in all its mid-50s glory, with Gloucester trains, no Hudson’s Bay building and a lot of Bloor-Yonge streetscape that has vanished over the years.
For a detailed history of the Bloor subway, visit Transit Toronto.