spadina ttc walkway sidewalk

TTC wipes away rich history of subway pedestrian tunnel with renovation

There's an odd history behind that long pedestrian tunnel connecting the Line 1 and Line 2 platforms at Spadina Subway Station — a story that has just had a new chapter added, or removed, depending on your outlook.

Initially intended as two separate stations, the planned Lowther station on Line 1 was folded into Spadina on Line 2 when the Spadina Subway Extension opened in 1978, requiring an over 150-metre-long pedestrian tunnel to connect the two sets of platforms into one single station.

And if you're of an older generation, you might remember the moving walkway (or movator) installed to make that long walk through the tunnel go by quicker.

Though the moving walkway was eventually removed in 2004 due to exorbitant upkeep costs (and, apparently, dead subway rats getting stuck in the mechanism), vestiges of the moving walkway remain in 2023, almost two decades later. Just not as many remnants as before.

For years after the walkway's demise, mismatched tiling was among the most visible signs of the tunnel's more convenient past.

But an ongoing TTC construction project has recently scrubbed away most of the remaining clues of the former walkway, leaving only a tiny easter egg of a trace for the most dedicated history buffs to notice.

spadina ttc walkway sidewalk

A TTC representative explains to blogTO that "as part of improvements to the station, the walkway is being retiled."

"This has started and is approximately 75 per cent complete. The expectation is that the retiling will be completed in the spring."

Retiling means that the wide strip of mismatched tiles demarcating the former path of the moving walkway is no more, erasing a clunky-looking but still meaningful vestige of Toronto transit history.

spadina ttc walkway sidewalk

Aside from a strip of surviving wall tiles, the pedestrian passage still bears one holdout sign — quite literally a sign — in a long-pointless warning etched into the wall tiles cautioning commuters to "please hold" a now-nonexistent "handrail" as they lumber through the almost infinite corridor connecting the two platforms.

spadina ttc walkway sidewalk

And there are even more changes on the way as part of the Easier Access project improving accessibility at Spadina. According to the TTC, "the station is also scheduled to receive new public art in accordance with TTC's Public Art Policy, which is expected to be installed at the pedestrian walkway close to Line 1."

"The public art for Spadina Station has not yet been selected, and will likely be installed after construction, which is estimated to be by the end of 2024."

Photos by

Fareen Karim

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