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Going Underground in Toronto


When the going gets tough, those in the know go underground. On a recent trip to Toronto, the cold temperatures were aggravated with a biting wind chill. Using Toronto’s underground PATH, one can walk most places in the downtown core avoiding cold temperatures, wet weather (rain, sleet, snow) or heat and humidity in the summer. As a bonus, I happened to catch the giant Christmas decorations at the Toronto Eaton Center.

PATH is essentially an underground city. This is not walking through empty tunnels. It passes over 1,000 stores and restaurants. Over six subway stations and 50 office buildings are connected, making PATH very busy during work days. On a bad weather day, people can walk from one downtown office to another without having to step outside.

One can walk south to north for over 1.6 kilometers (1 mile). East/west arteries spread out from the main south/north route for half a kilometer on either side. In total there are over 30 kilometers (18.64 miles) underground. PATH is identified as the largest underground shopping complex in the world.

There are over 100 access points to Toronto’s underground city. Union Station is a major subway connection point underground, but the access point above was from street level in the same area.

02-2 KAI_6804RThe key to navigating is to look up. PATH signs installed in the 1990s help you navigate underground. Red arrows point south; blue arrows point north; orange arrows point west; and yellow arrows point east. Until the signs were put in place, you had to know where you were going.

03-4 KAI_6807RToronto’s PATH does not follow the grid patterns of the streets above. If you’re looking up, signs from building complex will help you know where you are underground in relation to the streets above.

05-3 KAI_6810RThere are some doors as you move from one office complex to another. These are few in number and since the pathways are wide at most points, easy to pass through.

07-7 KAI_6816RThere are over 60 decision points. Look up for signs or ask in one of the stores to make sure you’re headed in the right direction.

06-6 KAI_6814ROne of the few places you need to zig and zag a bit. If you look up, you’ll see PATH signs, so you know where to go.

04-5 KAI_6808RThere are numerous coffee shops and restaurants throughout PATH. Most people in the line are getting something to go to take back to their offices.

08-8 KAI_6824RThere are also several food court areas, so you can get something, sit down and eat. With over 50 office buildings connected to PATH, these spots are incredibly busy during lunch hours.

09-9 KAI_6832R10-12 KAI_6841RArriving at my intended destination, the Toronto Eaton Center, I was greeted with giant Christmas decorations.

13-13 KAI_6864RThe Toronto Eaton Center is served by the Dundas subway station at the north end and the Queen subway station at the south end. In between are over 330 stores and restaurants spread over three levels.

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Comments (2)

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I'm a big fan of underground passages (we've lost a few, gained a few lately in New York) and will be sure to check out the PATH next time we visit family in Toronto! Thanks!

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

I've visited Toronto several times during winter.  Some winter days are lovely and you want to be outside, but when the cold blows from the north, you're grateful to be able to walk the PATH.  Have never seen the Christmas decorations, which are lovely.  Thanks for sharing this, Kai!

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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