Turning the Gardiner into a park: an idea becomes safe for Toronto when New York does it first
The Gardiner Expressway is many things: choked at rush hour, the Great Wall on the waterfront and, in many respects, ugly as sin. Last year, Toronto-based Quadrangle Architects proposed doing something about the last part: put a roof on the Gardiner, and then put a park on the roof. The idea, called the Green Ribbon by supporters, has a lot going for it. Boosters say it would cost less than tearing down the expressway, covering the road would keep the city from having to clear it of snow, and the city would have a new, seven-kilometre-long park running from Dufferin to the DVP. All that probably wouldn’t be enough to get an idea like this taken seriously, but supporters have an ace up their sleeve.
Reports the Star:
There’s a precedent of sorts. In New York, the High Line, an abandoned elevated rail line built in the 1930s to separate dangerous train traffic from pedestrians, has been turned into an urban garden. The initial section, running north about 10 blocks from the Meatpacking District on the west side, drew two million visitors in its first 10 months.
New York did it? What are we waiting for? Anything that keeps Toronto in the business of being a cheap alternative locale for movies set in the Big Apple is fine by us (plus, it would give the city a handy spot to attach those toll cameras). Judging by how long it took T.O. to get its version of Times Square, look for the Green Ribbon to be up and running by 2065.
• Transforming the Gardiner into a garden [Toronto Star]
• Quadrangle Architects: The Green Ribbon [PDF]
11 thoughts on “Turning the Gardiner into a park: an idea becomes safe for Toronto when New York does it first”
Somehow I don’t think you really read the article or understood the proposal.The Gardiner proposal is not the same as the NY Highline.
Great idea, wrong road. This would be much better suited over the DVP south of Bloor. Imagine a Riverdale park without a roaring highway in the middle of it. Imagine being able to walk along a linear park from Riverdale Park to the new waterfront beside the Don river viewing the sunset behind the Toronto skyline. Imagine walking beside the Don River and actually hearing the water!
another stupid idea.
tell me what is going to happen with toronto’s traffic. Its going to get much worse. you will not be able to get from one side of the city to the other. scrap this idea. They should be figuring out where to add a express way.
agree with Kevin…where is that traffic going to go if we turn the Expwy into a park? TO is already gridlocked. We should be thinking about where to build an additional expressway to help relieve the traffic. Like it or not the number of drivers in Toronto is only going to increase, especially since housing is so un-affordable in the city.
You people aren’t paying attention. This proposal calls for a park to be built on top of the Gardiner, not in its place. Look carefully, it’s a deck built over the still functioning freeway.
It’s hard to argue against more green space but it’s unfortunate we need cities such as New York to break the mold before we follow suit. We’re a city full of smart creative people. Let’s be the forward thinkers and have the world pay attention to us, rather than look at us as a watered down version of New York or Chicago.
The NYC elevated train runs through a dense residential/commercial core that literally flanks the trellis along its entire length. Windows from highrises open onto it. It was already a de factor park – used for flowers and BBQs before it was recognized as such, made so by the residents who used it as their backyards. The process of its transformation was organic, not imposed.
Such is NOT the case in Toronto, where the highway is flanked by industrial space and roads on both sides and the closest residential space is a series of downtown condos far enough away that they’d be in a different neighborhood entirely if it was in NYC. The cement structure (NYC’s is iron) is already crumbling, with boulder sized chunks hitting the busy road beneath. If we can’t keep up with it now, how will we do it when it is loaded with weight, water, and ice?
tear it down and plant it on the ground. Save millions in maintenace. The thing is a crumbling, high cost mess. If we can’t afford it as a road…who wants the astronomical cost of a park atop crumbling poles…Dorky idea.
Interesting idea, but it probably can’t happen.
Instead tear the Gardiner down and build a normal ground level park. Maybe with an LRT or subway running through it or underneath it to Union. There’s basically a highway beside/underneath it already (Lake Shore Blvd).
And to the people who said we should be looking for places to add expressways in Toronto… get your head out of the clouds (or smog from your cars) and realize this isn’t the 1960s. We will never build another expressway in this city and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We already have the 401, 404, DVP, 427 and the Gardiner, we don’t need anymore. Much larger cities get along with fewer expressways. We should be ashamed of ourselves if we need more to serve a city of 2.5 million.
Here’s the main thing: a roof over the Gardiner would protect it from rain and snow, which would eliminate the need for winter salting. With less salt water seeping into the structure, the deterioration would stop or slow dramatically and provide many more years of service. For that alone, this idea is a winner. The green roof, with all the many benefits of that, is basically a bonus. And a double bonus would be a bike path. These drawings do not serve the idea of the bike path aspect well by showing it as a meandering pedestrian path. Many of the buildings along the Gardiner could perhaps bridge to this park from their third or fourth floors. In time Toronto might have a PATH system in the air as well as under ground.
I like the idea of a bike path, but if the one along the Don is any indication, pedestrians (who share the path) would spend most of their time being sworn at by every cyclist who thinks they’re on the Tour de France.
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