Underpass Park is the original play space under the DVP
Toronto is a city that's all about its hidden gems: from the secret parks to the plethora of hidden patios and the exclusive beaches which dot its lakeshore, our favourite public spaces in the city tend to be the ones we happen upon by chance.
That element of surprise is what makes the award-winning Underpass Park such a valuable and one-of-a-kind addition to Toronto's quickly developing urban landscape.
Tucked beneath a trio of overpasses that connect to the DVP, this unique playground claims the space directly beneath the Richmond, Adelaide and Eastern Avenue overpasses with stunning street art, a basketball court, skate park, and creative recreational structures.
Jointly designed by PFS Studio and The Planning Partnership — two firms with extensive experience in re-imagining spaces in city cores — this ruggedly charming play area opened to the public in 2012 as part of the Waterfront Toronto revitalization initiatives.
Even for first time visitors, its clear to see how much this bold artistic wonder has transformed what was once a low traffic (derelict and unsafe, even) space into a real community gem that is for the people, by the people.
Using storey-high murals by revered street artists like Derek Mehaffey (a.k.a Troy Lovegates) and the elusive Labrona, along with a slew of other Indigenous and local talent, the Multiplicity program successfully uses street art to enliven more than 50 columns.
From the sports zone in the eastern-most section of the park to the ubiquitous art, the abundance of public seating and the jungle gym, there's something for everyone encompassed in three city blocks, regardless of age or ability.
Lovers of design will appreciate the eyeball-themed motif that runs through the jungle gym, along with an incredible installation called Mirage by Paul Raff, which has seen one section of the overpass decorated with 57 octagonal mirrors to create an illuminating effect.
The area that peaks out from the underpass is where you'll find the collection of child-friendly playthings like the swing set, teeter-totter, and spider-webbed climbing structure atop a softly padded floor: a more urban alternative to the next door Corktown Common.
Further west, the remainder of the park remains open with green spaces large enough for public events. The entirety of Underpass Park is intensely illuminated for further use at night, quelling the fears of hanging out under an overpass at night completely.
On any given day, you'll find ball players at Underpass Park playing a game of pickup on the pair of half courts, or skaters speeding down the quarter pipe.
Soon, it'll be mostly locals from the handful of condos being built nearby taking advantage of this beautiful playground.
But for any urbanites who want to stay grounded to this city, regardless of where you're from, this space is yours to claim as well.
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