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cityscape

Goin’ Down the Gardiner Expressway

In light of the latest study on the Gardiner, a look at how the expressway developed.

Frederick G. Gardiner was proud of the expressway named in his honour. “You know,” he noted in a 1964 interview, “I used to lie in bed dreaming in Technicolor, thinking it was too big. Now I know it isn’t. Maybe in 20 years time, they’ll be cursing me for making it too small. But I won’t be around to worry then. Right now, I’ve come up smelling of Chanel No. 5.”

When Gardiner died in 1983, few liked the scent of his expressway. They cursed him for pushing a crumbling roadway increasingly seen as a barrier between downtown and the waterfront. This week’s report favouring demolition of the eastern section of the Gardiner Expressway joins a long line of studies recommending a teardown.

But there was a time when regional officials believed the Gardiner Expressway would solve bottlenecks plaguing a growing city in the early 1950s. Had it been built to its full extent via the Scarborough Expressway, drivers might have enjoyed views of Humber Bay, the downtown skyline, and the Scarborough Bluffs.

Step into our gallery to observe the development of the Gardiner Expressway.

Additional material from Regeneration: Toronto’s Waterfront and the Sustainable City (Toronto: Royal Commission on the Future of the Toronto Waterfront, 1992); Toronto ’59 (Toronto: City of Toronto, 1959); the May 4, 1954. May 17, 1956, March 23, 1957, July 30, 1957, August 8, 1958, August 11, 1958, December 3, 1959, February 6, 1962, and May 12, 1999 editions of the Globe and Mail; the September 14, 1949, July 8, 1953, January 2, 1954, May 3, 1954, July 2, 1957. May 18, 1999, and May 6, 2000 editions of the Toronto Star; and the September 1993 edition of Toronto Life.


CORRECTION: February 9, 2014, 10:11 AM An image originally identified as the construction of the Gardiner Expressway over the Don River in 1964 actually depicts the building of the nearby Eastern Avenue flyover and the Richmond Street ramp from the Don Valley Parkway that same year. We regret the error.

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