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cityscape

Building Storeys: Rail Bridges

Moving (and preserving) Torontonians over and under busy train tracks.

Every year, Heritage Toronto works with local photographers to create Building Storeys, a visual documentation and anecdotal exhibit of our city’s heritage sites. This year’s exhibit—which is on view at the Steam Whistle Roundhouse throughout the month of May—is dedicated to rail and marine transportation. Over the course of the month, Torontoist and Heritage Toronto are exploring the context for Building Storeys; today we look at Toronto’s rail bridges.


Building Storeys
Steam Whistle Brewing (The Roundhouse, 255 Bremner Boulevard)
May 3–31
FREE

As train traffic grew in Toronto during the second half of the 19th century, the city needed to find ways to reduce the ever-growing number of accidents at level crossings, especially along main rail corridors. Two solutions emerged: having the road bridge over train tracks (primarily near the waterfront) and having trains bridge over the road (called “subways” in the parlance of the day), sometimes lowering the road to accomodate this. The rise in automobile use during the early 20th century and continued expansion of the city resulted in the refurbishing or replacement of many of the early rail bridges.

The images in the gallery trace the development of several of the city’s better known rail bridges, along with structures that vanished long ago.

Besides the sources indicated in the gallery, material in this article was also derived from Toronto’s Railway Heritage by Derek Boles (Chicago: Arcadia Publishing, 2009) and material prepared for Heritage Toronto by Derek Boles.

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