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TTC to retrofit stations with "classic" wall panels

Posted by Chris Bateman / December 2, 2013

toronto st andrewPreservationists be happy - the TTC is looking to the past in its ongoing overhaul of several damaged and dust-covered subway interiors. Whether intentional or not, the new reflective galvanized metal wall panels at St. Andrew station, roughly a third of which are installed, hark back to a time when many of Toronto's stations were decorated in glassy coloured tile.

The TTC covered the original vitreous marble wall panels at St. Andrew and Osgoode stations when water damage caused the brittle tiles to warp and break. As photos show, the present vertical strips of plastic - also a feature of Kipling, Kennedy, Sheppard-Yonge, and Finch stations - simply cover the original pockmarked and dusty walls.

toronto st andrewThe original tiles at every station from Union to Davisville were either knocked out or covered over in the 70s and 80s. Eglinton, trivia lovers, is the only stop to retain some of its original glossy aesthetic at track level.

"The real challenge in dealing with subway stations is brake dust," says TTC spokesman Brad Ross.

"The wall panels, the slats, [at St. Andrew] had deteriorated. They were stained, they were damaged, very labour intensive to keep clean and maintain so they're being replaced with this new panel."

The $275,000 cost of the new wall treatment, which doesn't include the tile in the ticket hall or on the platform, came out of the TTC's annual maintenance budget. Osgoode, St. Patrick, Queen's Park, York Mills, Kipling, and Finch stations are also scheduled to get the same treatment in the next few years.

At St. Patrick and Queen's Park, water damage has damaged the current wall covers, which replaced the original 1960s tile, beyond repair and is negatively impacting the stations' appearance, the TTC says. An earlier test of new wall panels at St. Andrew was undertaken in 2009, but these metal panels are more resilient than the earlier version used.

What do you think of the new look at St. Andrew? Are you pleased to see the tired wall slats banished for good? Will you miss St. Patrick's current neon green interior?

toronto st patrickChris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Images: Derek Flack/blogTO, apta_2050/blogTO Flickr pool, City of Toronto Archives



Rob Ford / December 2, 2013 at 02:40 pm
And the gravy train continues................
Terri / December 2, 2013 at 02:46 pm
This is NOT a gravy train item ~ It is a necessity to the ongoing maintenance of our most important methods of transportation.
h / December 2, 2013 at 03:01 pm
It is about time the great RF starting posting comments!
beyond beyond replying to a comment from Rob Ford / December 2, 2013 at 03:29 pm
I think its time you step in front of that gravy train while it is going full speed.
cathy / December 2, 2013 at 03:33 pm
As long as it's serviceable and decent it's okay. After the Pape redesign I certainly wouldn't trust the TTC with picking out anything fancier than plain sheets of metal.
Goldielover / December 2, 2013 at 03:33 pm
Well, they definitely do need to do some work on some of these stations. I looked up at the ceiling at St. George yesterday (Bloor Danforth line, westbound) and saw a fair sized chunk had fallen, probably due to the vibration of the trains above. Actually, I will miss the green at St. Patrick. If I can't see the station sign, then I tend to use the wall colour to identify which station I'm at, as I can't always hear the announcements
Dan / December 2, 2013 at 03:38 pm
Each station should be a different colour
d replying to a comment from Goldielover / December 2, 2013 at 03:39 pm
Hadn't thought of that, Goldielover ... it's true, I used to know the station by the colour when you travel it everyday. Good point.
Nahid / December 2, 2013 at 04:06 pm
The real gravy train is the Scarborough Subway.
W. K. Lis replying to a comment from Rob Ford / December 2, 2013 at 04:41 pm
Its not gravy if the walls NEED repair, the roof leaks, the signals are rusting, and the wiring shorting out. I guess you still live a house with galvanized water pipes and knob & tube wiring.
Tingy / December 2, 2013 at 04:43 pm
Heard on CP24 that Ford will take legal action to stop all city expenses in order to stop the gravy train
Terry replying to a comment from Nahid / December 2, 2013 at 05:02 pm
Exactly - gravy train - $100 million in cancellation fees for changing to Scarborough Subway, with fewer stops than the LRT, and Toronto households are on the hook for all the costs. Rob Ford = gravy.
Gus / December 2, 2013 at 05:03 pm
Um, the article does ask if we'll "miss St. Patrick's neon green interior", but doesn't explicitly say it will be replaced with something else. In fact, the article's gist is that if anything, there's a return towards to original style afoot, and hasn't St Patrick always been green anyway? Can we get some clarification on this?
rob replying to a comment from Terry / December 2, 2013 at 05:07 pm
$100 million? You wish!

It will end up costing us over $3 billion extra with all of the cancellations, new assessments, station redesigns and changes.

Brent / December 2, 2013 at 05:32 pm
I believe it was only the tiles at Osgoode and St. Andrew that were replaced. The tiles at St. Patrick and Queen's Park are the originals -- the only difference is that the station names were originally painted directly on the tiles, but were then covered by separate panels. By the time they got to Museum and St. George, they had settled on the glazed ceramic tiles that then continued to be used on B/D and parts of North Yonge.
Christopher King / December 2, 2013 at 05:45 pm
oh dear gosh, do something with these fugly stations.
@Tingy: That news is old news. Ford's sought no legal action since he made those threats. Know why? BECAUSE he hasn't go a leg to stand on
Craig / December 2, 2013 at 06:00 pm
The new signs look great. The gravy is Rob Ford's salary which contributes nothing to this city. Do the right thing and resign.
Craig / December 2, 2013 at 06:00 pm
The new signs look great. The gravy is Rob Ford's salary which contributes nothing to this city. Do the right thing and resign.
Adam Sobolak / December 2, 2013 at 07:16 pm
Eglinton is not the only station where 1954-era Vitrolite remains extant: Queen retained the "friezes" after the wall tiles were trashed in the late 90s...
iSkyscraper / December 2, 2013 at 09:16 pm
I think this is great. It's not well known, but the TTC subway was a near-clone of what was called the IRT subway in New York. While those stations from the turn of the century looked backwards with mosaic tiles and decorative fixtures, the TTC at midcentury looked forward with their glassy, sleek tiles. Still boring as hell compared to the architecturally fantastic Montreal Metro of only a few years later, but better some charm than none at all.

So it's great to see that look returning. But I'm confused as to why they are using metal panels (presumably some form of alucobond or similar) rather than porcelain tiles. You can do anything in porcelain these days, the stuff is very strong and excellent for dealing with water and cleaning. There are several lines out there that simulate the look of vitreous marble tiles and, I think, would be far more durable.
Mic / December 2, 2013 at 10:04 pm
I really wish BlogTO could ban Rob Ford comments in posts that have nothing/virtually no connection to him.
Suzi / December 2, 2013 at 10:42 pm
Why are we throwing Robs name around on this? This would be more Karen Stintz approval NOT Ford.
Suzi / December 2, 2013 at 10:52 pm
Ford does not oversee every decision made by the TTC. Stintz does, she needs to resign. First the new station numbers, names and maps that were approved without a taxpayer vote and now this. Resign Stintz.

If you downtowners are serious about stopping the gravy and getting Rob out then theres only one answer. You have to start coming to the community meetings out here in the 'burbs' where Rob has support. Come out here, state your facts and battle us out hete in Ford Nation OR is that too inconvienient for you.
Why are people so proud to say "I never travel north of Bloor, I don't even know whats up there". Its like people who are so quick and proud to tell you they don't have a TV, as soon as one mentions anything about TV or movies. "I don't have a TV!"
Randy / December 3, 2013 at 12:36 am
Why do people care so much about this? Its a sign in a TTC stop. We all hate the TTC right. Whats next were going to ask Ryerson to preserve the sign for us?
Old timer / December 3, 2013 at 09:10 am
I don't understand. I thought the TTC was going to numbered stations in an effort to bury our heritage so new comers who neither know or care about our history will not be offended or confused by a "Saint Andrews" or "Bloor" station name.
the lemur replying to a comment from Old timer / December 3, 2013 at 09:50 am
No, the TTC is numbering the LINES, which it already does for internal use, so that in addition to the colours and names there will be less ambiguity about which lines go where. The line and station names will stay.

Good to see the slats go, since they were already randomly missing in places, and to see the TTC actually caring about its design heritage and physical environment. The supreme irony of the TTC under that prick Giambrone was that he was supposedly a trained archeologist and yet his approach to some of the better preserved original tile (e.g., Pape station) was 'Uhh, this stuff's old ... better knock it down in the name of revitalization'.
Old timer replying to a comment from the lemur / December 3, 2013 at 10:00 am
Oh,well then, never mind. :)
Steve / December 3, 2013 at 11:32 am
Much needed and it will slowly make our existing lines look half decent again.
Stephen Wickens / December 3, 2013 at 01:17 pm
I miss the original Yonge decor and its logical way-finding colour scheme. Unfortunately, the vitrolite was fragile (and I even bled for the big old glassy tiles one night in the mid-1970s after confronting a couple of steely-toed drunks who were kicking cracks into the walls at Dundas). But I'll bet a durable Vitrolite replica can be sourced, and it's something to consider when we get around to undoing the hideous 1980s renovation work, especially at King, Dundas and College. Hell, have they settled on final trims for the Union renovation? The Bloor-Danforth also has most of a good logical sequence of base and trim (5 and 4, instead of 3 and 4 on Yonge), though it got messed up at the outer terminals. Maybe I'm just being anal, but it seems a shame that Pape was redone with Bloor's colours and Bloor got Pape's.
Joe Clark / December 3, 2013 at 02:12 pm
This post is severely lacking in detail and correct terminology.

The St. Andrew wall experiment dates back to 2009 (I have photos from that time) and has gone through two if not three iterations, based on photographs and my occasionally dropping by to look at what’s happening. The first set of panels bowed and warped and were replaced.

What do you mean by “galvanized metal”? (Do you even know?) What is the actual material name and what is it composed of? Isn’t it enamel(led)?

What are you trying to say about the tape etc. visible on the aboriginal tiles at St. Andrew? Is the tape original equipment, or was it added when the slats were, or was it added when the slats were removed?

Do you not know that the tiles at Eglinton, which, like a small child, you deem merely “glossy,” are Vitrolite?

Didn’t you ask whose idea this all was? I have been going around crediting Ian Trites of the TTC with the whole thing (twice in the last month for tours for a type designer and a journo). This at least needs to be fact-checked.
skandhala replying to a comment from Goldielover / December 3, 2013 at 03:15 pm
True say!

And, St Patrick's tiles are definitely not neon green.
Mary / April 4, 2014 at 02:13 pm
The slats at Sheppard and Finch do not cover up old tiles. It was part of the style when opened in the 70's...

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