The Prince Edward Viaduct, more commonly known as the Bloor Viaduct, connects Bloor St E with Danforth Ave in Toronto. The bridge was named after Prince Edward, who later became King Edward VIII.
An Architectural Wonder
The building of this architectural marvel began in 1915, and while it officially opened in October 1918, it didn’t open fully to traffic until 1919. The hinged double-decker truss arch bridge prompted the area’s rapid growth east of the Don River and had a significant impact on the history of the city. The cost estimate was $759,000; however, the final cost of the Prince Edward Viaduct was triple.
Edmund Burke designed the architectural features, Thomas Taylor was the construction engineer, and RC Harris was the Commissioner of Public Works.
The massive concrete and steel bridge consists of three sections:
- The Bloor St E section is on an embankment of the Rosedale Ravine, running from Sherbourne to Parliament Sts.
- The Rosedale section is 177 m or 580 ft long with one main steel arch and runs between the north end of Parliament St and the west end of the Don Valley section.
- The Don Valley section is 494 m or 1620 ft long, with five main steel arches over the Don River and Parkway.
The Rosedale and Don Valley sections have concrete piers and approaches with cantilevered sidewalks and red aggregate hand railings. Did you know that a viaduct is a long bridge or a series of bridges linked to each other by arches and piers supporting a road or rail track over a valley or ravine?
The Vision of R.C. Harris
Thanks to the insistence of Roland Caldwell Harris, the bridges were built with a lower-level deck to one day be used for mass transit. Adding the lower deck was controversial due to the cost. Nearly 50 years later, the lower deck on the Don Valley section saved millions of dollars when it was used for the Bloor-Danforth subway.
In 1986, the structure was awarded a National Historic Civil Engineering Site by the Canadian Society of Civil Engineering. In 2018, the City of Toronto commemorated the viaduct’s history with a heritage plaque.
Another major project Mr Harris oversaw was the construction of the R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant.
The Luminous Veil at the Prince Edward Viaduct
In the late 1990s, architect Dereck Revington designed a barrier to prevent people from taking their lives. It’s called the Luminous Veil. Completed in 2003, over 9,000 steel rods were fastened to the sides of the bridge, from bank to bank and in 2015, colour-shifting LED lights were added.
Prince Edward Viaduct Photos
- City of Toronto: Bridging the Don: the Prince Edward Viaduct
- History of Bridges: Viaduct – Meaning and Difference between Viaduct and Bridge
- Toronto Star: 10 things you don’t know about the Bloor St. Viaduct as it turns 100
- Vintage Photos: City of Toronto Archives