Text by James Bow.
When planning began to extend the Yonge Subway north of Eglinton Avenue, it was initially proposed to have the stations roughly 1 km apart from each other. In between the present day stops of Eglinton, Lawrence, York Mills, Sheppard and Finch, we would have had stops at Glencairn, Glen Echo/Yonge Boulevard, and Empress (no intermediate stop was planned between York Mills and Sheppard, so far as we know). However, with the extension's expenses increasing rapidly, a cost savings measure was adopted. The mid-block stations between the major arterial roads were dropped. Local service on Yonge Street would be provided by a supplementary bus service instead.
Ten years after the North Yonge extension opened, North York was well on its way to building its own downtown along Yonge Street between Sheppard and Finch. Mayor Mel Lastman realized the importance of good public transit connections in fostering his new downtown, and North York council petitioned the TTC to build a new station in the Park Home Avenue/Empress area. The decision came easy. In the words of then TTC chief general manager, Alf Savage: 'approximately 17,500 jobs are located in the immediate vicinity of the new station at this time... As many as 40,000 additional jobs are forecast to be created there over the next 15 years. Clearly, the need for a new station is there.' The station, which eventually connected up with the North York City Hall, the North York Public Library and the rest of the $250 million city centre development, began construction in September 1985.
The new station was unusual in one particular way: it was the first subway station on the Toronto system to be built around existing subway tracks. This posed unique challenges to construction. Yonge Street was excavated and decked over to minimize disruption to traffic. Workers had to dig around the subway tunnel to build the frame of the subway station's two levels. The platform's concrete floor could only be poured as far as the existing subway tunnel walls, for the workers had to wait until the concrete was properly set before those walls could be cut out. The cutting of the tunnel walls could only be done when the subway was shut down for the night. Once this was done, the remainder of the rider platforms were completed. The central wall between the two tracks was only opened up slightly and tiled over in the same basic white with blue accents as the rest of the station.
North York Centre Station, once opened, boasted a mezzanine level as well as a platform level. Escalators take passengers from the street level and the city centre development to the mezzanine level as well as between the mezzanine level and the platform. There is a single collector's booth at the centre of the station and an automatic entrance near the north end. There were no bus platforms designed (this was the last station to be built without them, and will remain so until Bessarion opens on the Sheppard line in 2002), but with only the Yonge bus passing by on its way to Steeles and Davisville Station, none are needed.
The new station opened on time on July 18, 1987. The final cost of the project was $25 million.
Next see the Downsview station extension.
- Morrison, Laura. "New North York subway station to open next year." Real Estate News ? 1986: p1.
- Toronto Transit Commission, Yonge Street: North York Centre Station, The Toronto Transit Commission, Toronto (Ontario), November 1985.