Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Video: Canada's First Subway Opens In 1954

The world's first subway—in London—had been running for about a hundred years before Toronto finally got ours. People had started suggesting one in the early days of the 1900s, but it took decades of lobbying, a rapidly growing population and fears that the downtown was going to be overwhelmed by cars before a referendum on the issue overwhelmingly passed in 1946. Three years later, construction started. It was, of course, a massive project: workmen spent the next six years ripping up Yonge Street pretty much all the way from Front to Eglinton. In 1954, it opened: an underground railroad that could take you from Union Station to Eglinton in just 20 minutes. To mark the occasion, the CBC produced this video, a seven-minute documentary about the new line. The sound is kind of crappy, but it's well worth  having to squint your ears a little.

The construction project also made for a lot of good photos. I'll post one of Front Street below (click to make it bigger), but there's another great one of Yonge Street near Queen here. You can also find some more, including a neat aerial shot of the trench, if you scroll down on  this article. There's a photo of the official opening ceremonies at Davisville Station here. And there's a YouTube video of one of those very first, very red subway trains rolling into Rosedale Station here.

Front Street outside Union Station, 1950

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