Oh, Bloor!

The great central pinch-point of our overburdened subway system. It ought to be a station of symbolic pride and triumph, but instead, we have grown to quietly loathe it, our affections eroded and alienated by the unyielding constancy of its rush-hour congestion.

Bloor-Yonge subway platform
A rare moment of stillness at Bloor-Yonge

Due to its role as the primary interchange between the Yonge and Bloor-Danforth lines, the station is by far the busiest in the network. The original upper level was designed by TTC chief architect Arthur G. Keith.*

Keith never anticipated the hordes that surge daily through the station corridors—the 1987-92 platform widening and the 2009 crowd control measures serving as proof of the inadequacy of his layout. But in fairness, when Keith designed Bloor, it was only with a streetcar connection in mind; the main city east-west interchange was going to be along Queen. Perhaps one day a Relief Line will ease the pain…

Bloor station's double-wide southbound platform
The north- and southbound platforms were widened by 12 feet in 1992 to mitigate over-crowding.

Although the station officially bears the appellation ‘Bloor-Yonge’, hardly anyone calls it that, except for TTC executives and the automated robot voice on the Toronto Rocket trains (the voice on the Bloor-Danforth T-1s says ‘Yonge’). Most folks still prefer the shorter ‘Bloor’, the original name used during the opening on March 30, 1954.

The lower level of the station opened on February 25, 1966, replacing a transfer point to the Bloor streetcar line. Unlike ‘Bloor’ above, the ‘Yonge’ platform was constructed using a narrow island configuration—a missed opportunity to build a commodious station with multiple platforms and circulation space, that could have mitigated some of the crush problems of the north end upstairs. 

This oversight was due to some key assumptions that later proved incorrect: that interlining would obviate many of the physical transfers at Bloor-Yonge; and that the inevitably-soon-to-be-built Queen subway (aka the Relief Line) would siphon off volumes from the east end. Interlining only lasted for half a year (see Bay Lower for more on this subject), and the Queen subway was perpetually pushed off in favour of other projects. Additionally, strict funding constraints for the Bloor-Danforth subway necessitated a simple rather than expansive design.

Yonge station, Bloor-Danforth line.
Benches on the Yonge island platform.

Three historical items decorate the main station concourse: an archival photo of the streetcar connection platform, a commemorative Edwin McCormick reproduction (shown below), and a plaque dedicated to the opening of the Bloor-Danforth subway.

Edwin McCormick commemorative painting at Bloor subway station concourse
Commemorating the workers who built the subway system.

If there is but a single piece of information I’d like you to retain from this entire project, it’s to avoid the washrooms at Bloor. The cleaning staff do their heroic best to keep up with the traffic, but it’s a losing cause. For your sake—try to hold it in.

* There seems to be a notion, perpetuated by Wikipedia (and promulgated thence on the internet) that Bloor’s upper-level architect was Charles B. Dolphin, who also gave us the William McBrien Building, home to the TTC’s headquarters at Davisville. Superficially this is plausible. But the cited source of this claim doesn’t seem to exist. A.G. Keith served as the chief architect of the TTC at the time. Until I see an actual historical document listing Dolphin as the architect, Im attributing Bloor to Keith.

Photo Gallery

Tour the station, and view captioned historical images from its past:
(hint: turn on the captions)

Photo gallery for the TTC's Bloor-Yonge subway station in Toronto

Bloor takes its name from the Methodist brewer Joseph Bloore (1789-1862), a scary-looking fellow who was intimately involved in land development around the village of Yorkville. Bloor St. was named after him in 1855.


Bloor-Yonge station transfer
Bloor-Yonge station transfer

More about Bloor

TTC Station info | Map | Wikipedia: Bloor-Yonge

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