What happens if we replace the Gardiner Expressway

05 Apr

I recently examined a newsletter issued by the office of MP Olivia Chow. In it were photos illustrating how other cities have tackled the problem of removing expressways that cut through their urban spaces. In Toronto, the controversy about whether or not to tear down the Gardiner is currently being debated. By July, the councillors must make a decision. No matter what they decide, it will be extremely costly and certain to be disruptive.

I personally hope that city council will look to the future. If we are to spend billions, would it not be better to create something that will not need to be replaced in the future? Our city can no longer handle the increased automobile traffic that occurs each year.

The following pictures show how other cities have handled the same problem that Toronto now faces.


These photographs from Waqcku “” (top) and,” (bottom) reveal how Seattle removed the Alaskan Way Viaduct, which was in such poor shape that many drivers refused to drive on it. Our Gardiner is nearly in the same condition. The Viaduct also cut Seattle off from its waterfront.  A  portion of the new route is above ground and the remainder in a tunnel. This is how our waterfront might appear if the Gardiner were removed. The Seattle solution might work well in Toronto. However, Seattle had the financial support of both the state and federal governments.


I have seen the results of the way San Francisco handled the problem of removing an elevated expressway. These photos by Eddie Baruela (left) and Scott David Burgess (right) reveal the spectacular differences.  However, the city only had to pay for the removal of the expressway, since other levels of government paid the remainder of the costs.


These photos from the Cheonggyecheong Museum (left) and Longzijun (flickr photostream) (right) show how Seoul removed an expressway and discovered a buried river. The photo on the left resembles our Gardiner Expressway and the Lakeshore Road.


In Madrid, the expressway disappeared into a tunnel (right-hand photo), and the riverbank was restored to its former glory. The expressway had cut off the river from the city. The left photo is from Espormadrid (Imageshack) and the right photo from

I am grateful to the newsletter distributed by Olivia Chow for the photos and information contained in this post. The newsletter had the title “Get Toronto Moving.” It added to my understanding of the possibilities open to us if the Gardiner is demolished.

To view the Home Page for this blog:

To view other posts about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

St. Stanislaus Koska RC Church on Denison Avenue, north of Queen West

The historical St. Mary’s Church at Adelaide and Bathurst Streets

The Bishop’s (St, Michael’s) Palace on Church Street, Toronto

The Union Building at Simcoe and King Street West

The Ed Mirvish (Pantages, Imperial, Canon) Theatre, a true architectural gem on Toronto’s Yonge Street

The Waverly Hotel on Spadina near College Street.

The Art Deco Bank of Commerce building on King Street West.

The Postal Delivery Building, now the Air Canada Centre (ACC)

The Bellevue Fire Station on College Street

The Bank of Nova Scotia at King and Bay Streets

Toronto’s old Sunnyside Beach

Toronto’s architectural gems—the Runnymede Library

Spadina Avenue – sinful, spicy and diverse

The Reading Building, a warehouse loft on Spadina Avenue

The Darling Building on Spadina Avenue

The amazing Fashion Building on Spadina Avenue

Toronto’s architectural gems – the Tower Building at Spadina and Adelaide Street

The Balfour Building at 119 Spadina Avenue

The Robertson Building at 215 Spadina that houses the Dark Horse Espresso Bar

An architectural gem – Grossman’s Tavern at Spadina and Cecil Streets

History of the house that contains the Paul Magder Fur Shop at 202 Spadina

An important historic building that disappeared from the northeast corner of Spadina and College

Historic bank building on northeast corner of Spadina and Queen West

History of the Backpackers’ Hotel at King and Spadina

Hamburger corner – Spadina and Queen Streets

Lord Lansdowne Public School on Spadina Crescent

The Victory Burlesque Theatre at Dundas and Spadina

The Dragon City Mall on the southwest corner of Dundas and Spadina

Buildings on the west side of Spadina a short distance north of Queen Street.

History of the site of the Mcdonalds on northwest corner of Queen and Spadina

A former mansion at 235 Spadina that is now almost hidden from view.


Military hero of the War of 1812 lived near corner of Spadina and Queen West.

To view other posts about Toronto’s past and its historic buildings:

The Art Deco bus terminal at Bay and Dundas Streets.

Photos of the surroundings of the CN Tower and and the St. Lawrence Market in 1977

The old Dominion Bank Building at King and Yonge Street

The Canada Life Building on University and Queen Street West.

Campbell House at the corner of Queen Street West and University Avenue

A study of Osgoode Hall

Toronto’s first City Hall, now a part of the St. Lawrence Market

Toronto’s Draper Street, a time-tunnel into the 19th century

The Black Bull Tavern at Queen and Soho Streets, established in 1822

History of the 1867 fence around Osgoode Hall on Queen Street West at York Street

Gathering around the radio as a child in the 1940s

The opening of the University Theatre on Bloor Street, west of Bay St.

122 persons perish in the Noronic Disaster on Toronto’s waterfront in 1949

Historic Victoria Memorial Square where Toronto’s first cemetery was located, now hidden amid the Entertainment District

Visiting one of Toronto’s best preserved 19th-century streets-Willcocks Avenue

The 1930s Water Maintenance Building on Brant Street, north of St. Andrew’s Park

Toronto’s architectural gems-photos of the Old City from a book published by the city in 1912

Toronto’s architectural gems in 1912

Toronto’s architectural gems – the bank on the northeast corner of Queen West and Spadina

Photos of the surroundings of the CN Tower and and the St. Lawrence Market in 1977

The St. Lawrence Hall on King Street

Toronto’s streetcars through the past decades

History of Trinity Bellwoods Park

A history of Toronto’s famous ferry boats to the Toronto Islands

Toronto’s Old City Hall at Bay and Queen Streets

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Posted by on April 5, 2013 in Toronto


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