Lower Bay's New York Makeover

Canal Street

Phony metal girders made of wood, the terra-cotta "tiling" and the "CANAL ST" signs transform Lower Bay station for a film shoot.

Text by James Bow.

(See Also Toronto's Lost Subway Stations and Lower Bay's Doors Open)

At the end of February 2001, Lower Bay was used to film a movie entitled Don't Say A Word, starring Michael Douglas. The film is set in New York City and, once again, Lower Bay was called upon to represent the New York Transit Authority. But this time, the producers did more than just slap the usual vinyl "42" stickers on the pillars.

Instead, the entire station was transformed. The ceiling was painted black, and tiled pillers were covered up by phony steel pillars. Platform signage was hung from the ceiling and system maps as well as New York advertisements were put up on the walls. The producers even went as far as to put up fake graffiti, and apply stickers representing terra-cotta tiling. Lower Bay had become "Canal St".

The entire scene cost $600,000 to shoot, with $150,000 alone spent on set dressing (including decking out a train complete with side destination signs in the windows).

Another difference between this movie shoot and the others is that the TTC asked the production company to "donate" the set to the TTC, thus preventing the teardown. The TTC can now use their new station as a selling point for future location shoots.

The set remained installed for several days after the shoot, allowing these photographs, donated anonymously, to be shot. These pictures illustrate the rather startling makeover.

New York Signage

A sample of the new New York-based signage.

New York Signage

A shot of the central platform, towards one of the stairwells leading to Upper Bay.

New York Signage

Another of the platform signs, and a shot of the extra-grimy New York station walls.


Specially ordered graffiti and an ad for Mexico.

New York Signage

The fake terra-cotta tiling on the station walls. Note the red sign detailing fictional emergency exits. This shot is of the eastbound track, looking west towards the University subway.


Looking west down the eastbound platform, at the fake girders installed on the tiled pillars.


A New York subway map, clock and advertisements stashed away after the shoot.

More Signs

The New York City clock and signage rubs shoulders with an original TTC sign.

False Wall

A false wooden wall has been stashed away on the platform.


Not all of the station was redone. This section near the western end was left untouched. Notice how the tiles appear a lot less grimy than the "redone" tiles in the centre of the station.

The TTC eventually disassembled the set. As most of it was made of wood, including the "steel" girders, it would have been a fire hazard if it had been left up. Lower Bay has now returned to normal.

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