December 24, 1927 Railway Age Vol. 83 No. 26

Canadian roads open impressive union station at Toronto

Structure started in 1913 effectively combines architectural beauty with a layout designed to give maximum utility.

After years of delay in construction, the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railways have opened their new union station at Toronto, Ont., which in all respects surpasses similar structures in Canada, and which may well be said to rival the largest and finest passengers stations in the United States. For an entire block, with a frontage of 850 ft., this new station, which is of classic architecture, presents is impressive face to the city of Toronto, an architectural array of cut and tooled Bedford limestone, boldly set out by a central colonnade of 22 massive limestone columns which for a distance of 250 ft. forms the main entrance portico.

The new station lies in a direct east and west direction, just south of the main business center of the city and only a few hundred feet east of the old station facilities it replaces. The front of the building, which is 752 ft. long, faces northward on Front street between Bay and York streets, and has been designed architecturally to represent one large unified structure. In reality, however, the station is made up of three distinct units, the passenger station in the center section, seven stories high, supported on the east and west ends by large four-story wings approximately 250 ft. long by 170 ft. wide.

The entrance to the station presents an impressive appearance.

The east wing is occupied exclusively by the Dominion post office department, while the west wing, above the first floor, is used exclusively for railroad offices. Directly behind the central portion of the building is the other main unit of the union station, the train concourse, which eventually will extend approximately 250 ft. beyond the station proper as a subway waiting room and passageway to 12 elevated station platform tracks.

Station construction was started in 1914

The beginning of the Toronto union station project dates back to the fire of 1905 which wiped out a large area along the waterfront of Lake Ontario, deemed highly suitable for the site of a new passenger station. In 1906, the railroads submitted a proposal for a joint passenger station which was turned down by the Board of Railway Commissioners of Canada who brought into the project the idea of the complete separation of grades between the railroad tracks skirting the lake front and the many cross streets.

Thus was the beginning of a controversy between the governmental authorities, city officials and the railroads, which extended over a number of years. In the main, up until 1912, the principal controversy was between grade separation by means of overhead street bridges, and track elevation, the latter method being insisted upon by the civic authorities. With this controversy settled at about this time in favor of track elevation, which was to entail millions of additional expense to the railroads, track elevation work in connection with a new station was started in 1913.

Acting under an agreement imposed upon the roads by the Dominion government, construction of the new station building itself was started in 1914, under the jurisdiction of the Toronto Terminals Railway Company, an organization which had been incorporated in 1906 to consolidate the interests of the railways in the union station and grade separation projects. Shortly after work on the station was begun, the war broke out in Europe and construction was stopped abruptly. In August of the following year, however, work was resumed on the station, but hampered by war conditions and difficulties in financing, the exterior of the station was not completed until 1918. Owing to further difficulties the station was not used in any way until 1920 when the post office department occupied the east wing, and the various railroad departments occupied the offices in the west wing. So utilized, the new station at Toronto was not completed or used as a passenger terminal until August of this year. In fact, the station as a whole is not completed yet, and is being operated under temporary track conditions at the present time. Final plans for the completion of the work have been definitely decided upon, however, and no unusual delay is anticipated in carrying them out. These plans involve the final elevated track layout at the station, together with the construction of platforms and train sheds. and the completion of the subway train concourse.

Plan of station main floor and concourse

The new station relieves an old station building and train shed, located just west of York street and south of Front street, which was constructed by the Grand Trunk in 1872 and 1873. These old facilities served Toronto adequately until about 1890 when it was found necessary to erect a large office building, facing on Front street, to be used in connection with the original facilities completed in 1873. This unit was completed in 1896, and since that date the combined facilities have served the railroads entering Toronto as a union station. Until the recent opening of the new station.

Toronto has large passenger and baggage business

The need for new and enlarged station facilities at Toronto has long been felt. As early as 1913, when the present new station was first definitely contemplated, the old facilities were handling an average of 130 through trains daily, and during certain seasons of the year were accommodating as many as 75,000 passengers in 24 hours. This was in addition to a baggage movement of about 10,000 pieces a day, a traffic somewhat heavier than that handled at any of the larger passenger stations in New York City.

Since 1913, every phase of Toronto's station problem has increased in large prortions, until at the present time the new station is handling an average of 180 trains and from 60,000 to 75,000 passengers each normal day throughout the year. During the Canadian National exhibition, which takes place at Toronto in the early fall each year, approximately 200 trains in many sections enter the station, and the normal passenger traffic is increased to approximately 100,000 passengers each day. In view of this traffic, and the consistent growth of Toronto, the new station has been constructed of such proportions that it is estimated conservatively that when the entire project is completed, including all track facilities, there will be little difficulty in handling 10,000 passengers an hour.

General layout of facilities

The new union station is a steel skeleton structure supported on massive concrete foundations which were carried down to rock in open caissons. All of the steelwork in the exterior walls is thoroughly encased in concrete, and the face stone of the building is backed with brick and hollow tile. The roof covering of the station is of two principal types, built-up tar and gravel, and sheet copper. the latter being used on all pitched surfaces. All of the main station floors, and the heavy traffic basement floors of the building are of reinforced concrete, faced with suitable wearing surfaces. All other floors, the partitions, and firewalls are constructed of hollow building tile.

A view through that portion of the train concourse already completed

In studying the layout of the new station it is essential to bear in mind that it is a through station rather than a stub terminal, that eventually all of the station tracks will be elevated and reached through a subway train concourse extending beneath them. and also, that the passenger station facilities are confined almost entirely within the main central unit of the unusually long passenger station building.

A portion of the main waiting room

This unit of the station, which covers an area approximately 260 ft. long by 86 ft. wide, towers above the four-story wings of the building, reaching a maximum height of about 125 ft. above the street level. The exterior face of this section has been made pretentious by a colonnade of 22 massive limestone columns of Grecian architecture, surmounted by a massive limestone facade bearing the inscription, "Union Station".

Entrance to the station, which sets back approximately 50 ft. from the property line of Front street, is through two large porticos at the east and west ends of the colonnade. These entrances lead direct to the main portion of the station known as the ticket lobby, the floor level of which is approximately one foot above the level of Front street. Within this lobby, which will be used primarily by passengers leaving Toronto or transferring at this point, are found the principal station facilities, supplemented by the waiting room and dining facilities afforded in the west wing on the same level. Centrally located along the south side of the ticket lobby is a high, arched exit passageway leading to a wide gently-sloping lamp, which connects the ticket lobby with the train concourse. In this concourse, the floor level of which is 6½ ft. below the level of the ticket lobby, there is complete separation of inbound and outbound passengers, with provision for the rapid handling of passengers transferring from one track platform to another.

The level directly below the ticket lobby is arranged for the exclusive use of passengers arriving at Toronto, and has been designated the exit concourse. This lower level, which provides facilities for passengers arriving at the station, is directly connected to the train concourse along the south side, through two low-level ramps. Exit from this level to the street is provided through a wide gently-sloping ramp, centrally located along the north or front side of the concourse. This ramp opens out on to a ramp loggia, with ramps extending upward in two directions parallel with the face of the building, to the entrance portico levels at each side of the ticket lobby.

The lunch room can serve 118 patrons at one time

For the convenience of passengers desiring to leave the station by taxicab, a low-level driveway extends along the full length of the entire building, so that passengers may reach cabs without coming to the street level. This driveway, which is of sufficient width to provide for two lanes of traffic without difficulty, extends around the sides of the building, where toward the rear it connects with York street on the west and Bay street on the east. Passengers in the exit concourse who desire to reach the main ticket lobby may use either of two wide stairways, one at each end of the exit concourse, which lead to the lobby level.

Floor plan of lower level

Ticket lobby affords large unobstructed floor area

Within the main room of the station, which is about 260 ft. long by 90 ft. wide, and covered by an arched ceiling 88 ft. above the floor, facilities have been arranged with the view of affording maximum convenience to patrons. These facilities line the side wall areas, leaving the main part of the floor unobstructed except for a circular information desk located centrally in the lobby, and the two stairwells leading to the sublevel exit concourse.

The ticket counters occupy the entire space between the entrance porticos on the north side of the lobby, and are divided into two equal units, the counter on the west side being used by the Canadian National while that on the east side is used by the Canadian Pacific. Where these two counters join in the center of the lobby, a portion of each is used by each company for special travel information service.

The ticket counters provided are of the low, unenclosed type, and have marble fronts surmounted by low bronze plates, about 12 in. high, to give some privacy to the clerks and to their working space. Openings in this plate, forming the ticket windows, are covered by bronze grillages, and intermediate between these openings, special ornamental lighting fixtures have been placed to enhance the appearance of the counters and to assist in illuminating them.

On the opposite or south side of the ticket lobby is the ramp chamber leading to the train concourse, with a parcel checking room to the east and a baggage checking room to the west. Both of these latter facilities are fitted with bronze top, marble front counters facing the ticket lobby. Between these units and the end walls of the lobby, the south wall area is occupied by concessions, as is also a small area centrally located along the east wall. At the west end of the lobby, the wall space is occupied by two large entranceways leading to the station waiting room and dining room facilities, and between these a small doorway opens on to a stairway which leads down to a taxicab and custom's department lobby on the exit concourse level.

Of special significance is the architectural effect which has been embodied in the ticket lobby. Throughout, the interiors walls are faced with rough-sawn Zumbro Travertine, the floor is of pink and gray Tennessee marble, while three-color panel work in Gustavino tile is employed in the long-span, high-vaulted ceiling and the archways which surmount the entrance vestibules. The plainness of the north and south walls is broken by five large sectional windows, while frosted glass, set in heavy ornamental iron grillings is used liberally in the entire upper two-thirds of the east and west end walls.

Harmonizing with this general treatment of the interior, pink Tennessee marble facing is used on the ticket counters, the information booth, the baggage and parcel checking counters, and the balustrades around the stairwells leading to the exit concourse, all of this marble work being set out by heavy bronze trim.

The interior of the spacious and attractive ticket lobby

Waiting room offers many conveniences

The waiting room as already mentioned, is located on the main floor level in the west wing, directly accessible from the ticket lobby through two wide entranceways. This room is 108 ft. long by 64 ft. wide, and like the ticket lobby is finished throughout with Zumbro Travertine walls, and with a pink and clear Tennessee marble floor. The ceiling of the waiting room is entirely of glass, forming the base of the light well which extends through the center of the west wing. The fittings of the waiting room consist entirely of rows of back-to-back quartered-oak settees occupying the center of the floor, supplemented by single settees of similar material, which line the wall areas.

The facilities auxiliary to the waiting room for the special convenience of men and women patrons lie along the south side of the west wing, immediately adjacent to the waiting room. For men, these consist of a small smoking room, a six-chair barber shop, a shower bath room, a wash room and a lavatory; while for women they include a large rest room, a lavatory, a bath and dressing room, and a manicuring and hair-dressing shop. Other auxiliary facilities in this area include a hospital room and quarters for a matron. The barber shop, baths and lavatories have tile walls and floors, while the women's rest room is provided with a parquet hardwood floor with wall panels of fumed oak.

Dining and lunch room facilities are adequate

The dining facilities of the new station are unusually attractive. The main dining room, which adjoins the west end of the general waiting room, occupies a clear area, 64 ft. long by 54 ft. wide, interrupted only by a row of columns along the north and south sides of the room to support the ceiling structure. The floor of the dining room is of oak parquetry, the ceiling is formed by a skylight similar to that in the waiting room, and the walls are faced with quartered white oak paneling surmounted by a wide frieze of carved oak which extends completely around the room. Adding to the restful effect of the interior decorations of this room, are ornamental side wall lamps provided along the recesses at the sides of the room, and indirect illumination around the edges of the ceiling. The dining room has space for 45 table, seating from two to six persons each, and, harmonizing with the interior decorations of the room, all tables, as well as other furniture, are of oak.

A special small dining- room has also been provided to accommodate private dinner parties. This room, which is 50 ft. long by 16 ft. wide, is finished throughout with hardwood floors and plastered walls, and through a special arrangement of folding partitions which fit into recesses; in the side walls, can be divided into four small private dining rooms approximately 12 ft. by 16 ft. each.

Looking through a section of the postal area on the lower level

The lunch room lies immediately north of the waiting room and extends for a distance of 130 ft. along the front face of the west wing. This room, which is 35 ft. wide, has been fitted with gray Missisquoi marble walls and flooring, and has a white plaster ceiling. Owing to tile shape of the room, it has been fitted with one unusualIy long U-shaped lunch counter which is capable of serving 118 patrons at one time. Supplementing this facility, tables have been placed along the north side of the room.

The kitchen facilities in connection with the lunch and dining rooms occupy practically the entire space on the main floor across the extreme west end of the west wing. In this location, which is within easy reach of the dining and lunch rooms, provision has been made for a pantry, a china wash room, a linen laundry, a bakery, a cold storage room. and a butcher room. The entire area devoted to the kitchen facilities on the main floor, while irregular in shape, is approximately 130 ft. long by 70 ft. wide. This is supplemented by additional space allotted to the commissary department in the basement level just below the kitchen facilities, this space being occupied primarily by a refrigeration plant. an employees' lunch room, locker and wash room facilities for kitchen employees, and special segregated areas for the storage of foodstuffs. One of the most interesting features in connection with the kitchen facilities is the large amount of modern equipment installed to facilitate the serving of a large number of patrons with a relatively small number of employees.

Separate exit concourse precludes congestion

The exit concourse, which lies in the low level directly beneath the ticket lobby, is one large room with a comparatively low ceiling occupied by a number of facilities of widely varying character. Practically all of these facilities are located along the wall area, so that maximum unobstructed floor space is afforded in the center of the room to facilitate the movement of outgoing passengers, the only obstruction within the main floor area being an enclosed rectangular information booth, centrally located, so that it can be seen readily from all parts of the concourse.· From this concourse passengers have several means of exit; straight ahead up the ramp at the front of the station leading to the entrance porticos; to the right or left to broad stairways leading to the ticket lobby ; or toward the left to the taxicab stands and arcade.

The special facilities on this level, aside from concessions, shop areas, telephones, etc., consist principally of a parcel room, a baggage room, an immigration room, and taxicab office facilities. Both the parcel checking and baggage checking rooms on this level lie immediately beneath the similar facilities on the ticket lobby level, the parcel room lying to the east of the approach to the exit lobby, while the baggage room lies to the west. Both of these facilities have counter fronts facing the concourse, and are connected with the similar facilities directly above by means of mechanical conveyors of various types, which make possible the ready transfer of parcels or baggage between floors. This equipment is of special value in the case of the baggage rooms where there is constant need for such transfers.

Immigration room

The immigration room, which lies along the east side of the exit concourse, is in reality a large area divided into a number of rooms set aside for offices of the immigration department, and also to accommodate large numbers of immigrants who may arrive at the station and be detained while awaiting some connection.

Looking west along the massive limestone front of the station

The interior finish of the exit concourse is in keeping with the rest of the station, except that owing to the lowness of the ceiling, little attempt has been made to incorporate special architectural features. The walls of this unit are faced throughout with Missisquoi green marble. as are also the massive columns on this level, . supporting the ticket lobby floor. The ceiling is plastered and ornamented with special lighting fixtures, and the flooring is or terrazzo tile, the plainness of which is broken up by wide dark tile borders.

Train concourse provides separate outlets for incoming passengers

One of the most interesting features of the new station from the standpoint of its ability to handle large crowds effectively, is the layout of the subway train· concourse. which when completed will serve 12 station tracks and provide for the complete separation of inbound and 'lutbound passengers. At the present time the train concourse extends only 160 ft. from the rear of the station building, or sufficient to carry six tracks, the space immediately beyond the unfinished end being occupied by low-level through tracks which now serve the station. On both sides of the train concourse structure, a reinforced concrete deck structure extends to York street on the west and to Bay street on the east, this structure forming the base for the future elevated tracks at the rear of the station, and affording a clear working space beneath them.

A section of the dining room, showing the elaborate interior finishing

The main portion of the train concourse, which is used as a passageway and waiting room for outbound passengers, is approximately 75 ft. wide, and is flanked on each side by stairways which will lead eventually to the intermediate platforms of the completed station track layout. The east and west sides of this main concourse, between the stairways, are lined by retail store areas, 28 ft. deep. Outside of these stores are exit passageways, about 16 ft. wide, which in turn have separate sets of stairways leading down to them from the track level. These passageways extend to the station end of tl1e concourse and are then joined together at the level of the exit concourse beneath the ticket lobby, through inclined ramps which slope to a common level directly beneath the inclined ramp which connects the ticket lobby with the main outbound area of the train concourse. With this arrangement, all outbound passengers will use the main central concourse area and the stairways leading from it, while passengers entering,

the station from the track level will be required to use the stairways on either side leading to the exit passageways and ultimately to the exit concourse. For the convenience of transfer passengers changing trains at the station, special transfer corridors, regulated by doors. connect the exit passageway on each side with the main part of the train concourse.

The interior finish of the train concourse, like the rest of the station, is both attractive and practical, the walls and columns being faced with Lombardic mosaic tile, rising to a plastered ceiling, the floor being finished with terrazzo tile. while all of the benches and the woodwork about the train gates are of fumed oak.

Baggage, mail and office facilities

The baggage-handling facilities at the station occupy practically the entire basement level of the west wing of the station building and extend beneath the full area of the elevated track deck west of the train concourse. This gives the baggage department over 85,000 sq. ft. of working space on the level beneath the tracks. Within this area, which is floored with asphalt mastic over a concrete base, outbound baggage is handled toward the front of the building, while inbound baggage is handled in the space immediately beneath the elevated track structure. When the track work is finally completed, freight elevators will connect each station platform with the baggage space beneath, thereby precluding all trucking over the tracks.

The three floors in the west wing of the new station building above the ground floor are occupied entirely by railroad offices, which are finished with plastered walls and ceilings, oak trim, and composition covered floors. The east wing of the station, from the sub-level to the top floor, is occupied by the Dominion post office department, and has been laid out and equipped with the most modern type of conveyors and mail handling facilities. The entire station project at Toronto has involved the expenditure of approximately $6.000,000, and is related to harbor development, municipal, and other railroad projects which will cost approximately $100,000,000 when completed.

Incomplete track elevation work necessitates temporary facilities

Until the grade separation work at Toronto, which involves several million yards of fill over a distance of approximately 18,000 ft., and the construction of 13 street subways. is completed, the new station must be operated with its tracks at grade, south of the incomplete train concourse. As it is expected that this condition will exist for about two more years, a relatively elaborate arrangement of temporary facilities has been resorted to in order to afford convenience to passengers in passing to and from trains. This consists of an entirely enclosed frame platform passageway extending in a north and south direction, above, and just west of the train concourse, and connected to the concourse exit stairways at the north end by enclosed passageways, and to the temporary track platforms at the south end by enclosed stairways.

The temporary track layout consists of seven station tracks served by three intermediate covered platforms, so that passengers are at no time unprotected in passing from the train concourse through the elevated passageway to the proper track platform. A special stairway at the north end of the temporary overhead passageway makes it possible for passengers leaving trains to use the exit facilities at the station in the same manner as they will be used permanently when the station is completed, that is, incoming passengers are directed to this stairway which leads to the exit passage along the west side of the train concourse. Thus it is evident that through this arrangement of temporary facilities, many of the advantages of the finished station will be in effect. until the station is completed.

The building of the new union station at Toronto has been handled since its inception by the Toronto Terminals Railway Company, a company formed by, and acting in the interest of the Canadian roads involved in the new station project. As chief engineer of this company throughout its existence, J R. VV. Ambrose has had· full charge of all engineering and construction features in connection with the new station. Mr. Ambrose has been assisted by the engineering staffs of both the Canadian National and the Canadian Pacific, and during the past two years more particularly. by P. B. Motley, engineer of bridges of the Canadian Pacific who has had general supervision over the design and construction of the train concourse and the elevated track structure at the rear of the station.

Ref: Toronto