Riding the TTC: Toronto’s Streetcars

Across the country there were once many streetcar systems, even in New York. Many of those have over the years been removed, in a few cases because the streetcars added to the difficult traffic conditions in the cities. Though Manhattan’s trains were moved underground, the streetcar systems in San Francisco and New Orleans have still survived. New Orleans’ system has been forever written into the public consciousness by Tennessee Williams’s play A Streetcar Named Desire, and is one of the two North American streetcar systems that has operated with little changes in route. The other is Toronto Transit Commission’s streetcar system, which is the largest in North America.

I’ve gotten the chance to ride on all three of the mentioned streetcar systems, though most recently Toronto’s system. The TTC operates 11 streetcar lines, and has an averages 285,600 riders daily. Although mostly operating above ground, there are several underground connections, like the one I photographed below, at Union Station.




I didn’t really travel very far on the streetcar. I pretty much wanted to be able to say I rode it, and get some photos :D

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Canadian Adventures: Toronto’s Union Station & Skywalk

While I was in Toronto I had the chance to visit the busiest train station in Canada, Union Station. It is a great example of the Beaux-arts style (like Grand Central) in Canada. Via Rail, Amtrak, Ontario Northland, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) all operate trains out of the station (and in the case of the TTC, Streetcars as well). Construction on Union Station was completed in 1920. It was designed by Ross and Macdonald, HG Jones and JM Lyle, and opened in 1927.

The central area of the station is called the Great Hall, and is quite beautiful. I must admit, though, I am biased… it pales in comparison to Grand Central. I would have loved to take more photos of the station, but with the G20 Summit approaching security was being heightened, and I was asked to not photograph any more. The first photo is the one that I got in trouble for. Though I think it turned out pretty nicely, so it was worth it. In hindsight, I was rather dense to start taking photos right in front of the security office.






Stretching above the streets from Union Station is a Skywalk, which extends to the convention center, and close to the CN Tower and Toronto Railway Heritage Center (which I’ll be posting pictures of soon). Other than being a pretty cool looking walk way, the Skywalk also extends over the railroad tracks, so it is a nice vantage point for photography. All in all I really enjoyed Toronto, and I’d highly recommend visiting Union Station and the Railway Heritage Center for anyone in the area. And once the Summit is over, I’m sure the cops will not be quite as strict regarding photography.

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