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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered



  1. Yup….just as ugly now as it was then.

    WHY can we not get our hydro put underground.

  2. Then: streetcars still ran during the construction and maintenance.
    Today: buses replace streetcars (and subway) during construction or maintenance.

  3. The pavement on Queen West is one long patch, especially westbound through Parkdale. Every other day some utility comes along, digs a hole, fills it up, and throws on a patch that looks like preschooler sandbox work, and lasts like the cheap Home Depot driveway repair mix. (Other) Ed, you want to put hydro underground because the street hasn’t been dug up and patched often enough?

  4. I think Ed’s point is that burying hydro and other infrastructure properly will negate the need for future tear-ups of the street. If nothing else, on an aesthetic level it will bring Toronto to a higher standard and not keep it in stasis as looking like a shabby frontier town. I realize that would offend the “messy urbanism” fetishists amongst the readership here, but frankly, that’s too bad. I’m pretty fed-up with Toronto’s public realm looking as degraded as it is. All that ridiculous amount of paper plastered everywhere in the current photo doesn’t help either.

  5. Hydro underground would make us look less like a frontier town circa 1900 and more like just about any other first world city of Toronto’s size and pretension. I understand one of the many things this city is incapable of doing is paving its streets properly, but that’s not a good enough reason to keep running overhead wires on wooden poles along our main streets. I mean, the streets and sidewalks will be a mess whether or not Hydro buries the wires.

  6. I really like this series, and this picture is a good one.

  7. Streetcars ran during construction in 1916 because there was no alternative, buses didn’t start appearing until the early 1920s. Also, that track on the left is a temporary bypass track, built to allow streetcars to detour around the construction site.

  8. I’m the Ed who thinks that putting more stuff underground will result in much more being dug up more often. This might be okay with me if the roads and sidewalks would get fixed up properly and promptly. Try walking along Queen St. on the north side west of Brock St. and seeing what *actually* happens. If Parkdale is too scary, the south side of Queen between about John and University is a lovely example of dig/crappypatch/dig/crappypatch.

  9. Yes, we have to bury our overhead wires if we want a city that’s respectable. What adds insult to injury is that in many places there are even abandoned metal poles next to the ugly wooden poles holding up the wires. In some places where the investment was made to bury overhead wires, Toronto Hydro has recently reinstalled overhead wires like on University Avenue and Queen’s Park Crescent. How can the people who run this city be so blind to these issues? I know that Torontonians aren’t apathetic, but may feel powerless. We need a public space maintenance and improvement lobby.

    It’s a basic issue but it makes a huge difference in how the city is perceived. You can’t plant a tree along a street only to have it grow into a cluster of hydro wires. In older neighbourhoods with mature trees, the trees are often cut in an ugly manner. Buried hydro wires mean a clean and modern street.

  10. Why do we even have to have a discussion about burying hydro wires on main streets? They’re buried as a matter of course in every western European city, and along main streets in major North American and Australian cities. Even Montreal buries them on its major streets and last time I checked they weren’t a lot richer than we are. Why is Toronto’s default setting always ugly and shabby?