Bloor Viaduct History Photos

The birth of the Bloor Viaduct

It wouldn't be a stretch to put the Bloor Viaduct — or, more officially the Prince Edward viaduct — on a top 10 list of Toronto landmarks. Opened in fall of 1918, the bridge system is actually composed of two structures: the one that spans the Don Valley and the smaller western section that runs above the Rosedale Valley (and a third if you consider that the stretch of current day Bloor between Sherbourne and Parliament was built on fill). We've already written a bit about the history of the bridge, but given the wealth of photos of its construction in the Toronto Archives, I thought it'd be a good candidate for a revisit and photographic expansion.

Immortalized by Michael Ondaatje in his novel In the Skin of a Lion, Torontonians seem to have a collective affection for the Bloor Viaduct that not many landmarks enjoy. Perhaps that's because it's the city's most important bridge, linking the eastern and western sections of Toronto over a valley that at one point left them very much divided. Or maybe it's because it stands as an example of how forward planning can pay dividends. The foresight shown by then Commissioner of Public Works R.C. Harris that a subway platform be installed under its roadway wouldn't be rewarded for roughly 50 years, but was a major factor in the birth of the Bloor-Danforth subway line (before it opened, the east/west subway line was almost built along Queen Street).

In addition to these practical features, I've always been drawn to the viaduct's design, those black steel arches towering above the valley below. Interestingly, it wasn't always destined to look this way. Along with a (failed) proposal to build a much longer bridge between Broadview and Sherbourne, where Bloor terminated at that time, there were also numerous other designs tabled for the viaduct. Perhaps it's impossible to evaluate these alternatives without bias, but I'm quite happy with how it worked out.

PHOTOS

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Alternative proposal by L.G. Mouchel and Partners Ltd., 1914

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Alternative proposal by L.G. Mouchel and Partners Ltd., 1914

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Detail of the Louchel plan, 1914

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Hedrick and Cochrane design, 1914

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Unspecified alternative proposal, 1914

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Rendering of adopted proposal

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Getting started, 1915

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View of construction in the valley, 1915

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Laying the foundation in the Don Valley, 1915

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Construction, July 1916

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Construction July 1916

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Progress by winter 1916

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Taking shape, 1917

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Rosedale side, 1917

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Rosedale side surface, 1917

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Paving, 1918

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Laying track, 1918

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Laying track,1918

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The new extension to Bloor Street, 1918

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Just opened, 1918

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Just opened, 1918

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Final route of Prince Edward Viaduct

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The Viaduct in 1920

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1920

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The Viaduct in 1933

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What it looks like today, with the addition of the Luminous Veil

Photos from the Toronto Archives, with the exception of the last, which is by the author


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