The King Street West Railway Subway Underpass is between Atlantic Ave and Sudbury St on the busy King West thoroughfare in Toronto.
The Development of Toronto’s Rail & Road System
In the 1850s, railway lines began being constructed through the area. This joined the region with the upper Great Lakes and destinations in-between. During the next three decades, numerous tracks were built to move passengers and freight to London, Detroit and Chicago and, in time, to cities on the West Coast.
Rail traffic in the King Street West area was quite busy. It was dangerous for pedestrians and horse-drawn vehicles trying to cross between the City of Toronto and what was then the Town of Parkdale. To solve the traffic issues, City of Toronto Engineer Charles Sproatt designed the railway underpass. The King Street West Railway Subway Underpass was completed in 1888 and was essential to Toronto’s rail and road system growth. A year later, Parkdale was annexed by the City.
In 1975, the structure’s wooden deck was replaced with concrete. The underpass in both Liberty Village and King West Village neighbourhoods was added to Toronto’s Heritage Register in 2006.
A Couple of Interesting Facts
If the name Sproatt sounds familiar when it comes to Toronto’s architecture, that’s because renowned architect Henry Sproatt was the son of Charles. Henry designed some of the City’s beautiful landmarks, including the Canada Life Building (University Ave & Queen St W) and the Manufacturer’s Life Insurance Building (Bloor St E & St Paul’s Sq).
King St was one of the first roads in the Town of York (Toronto). The street is named after King George III (1738-1820), the reigning monarch when the street was laid out.