Nov. 22, 2002: The Shep­pard sub­way line opens its doors

Toronto Star - - GREATER TORONTO - SO­PHIE VAN BASTELAER STAFF RE­PORTER

On Nov. 22, 2002 at 11 a.m., a train car­ry­ing On­tario pre­mier Ernie Eves, Toronto mayor Mel Last­man, Trans­port Canada min­is­ter David Col­lenette and TTC chair Betty Dis­ero broke through a ban­ner across the track at Don Mills sta­tion, of­fi­cially open­ing the Shep­pard sub­way line.

Fol­low­ing the in­au­gu­ral ride, there was a pub­lic open house, and the pub­lic was able to ride the new Line 4 free of charge while en­joy­ing en­ter­tain­ment pro­vided by bands and per­form­ing arts stu­dents.

There were also gifts handed out, in­clud­ing com­pli­men­tary tote bags.

Toronto’s first new sub­way line since 1966, the Shep­pard line cost al­most $100 mil­lion to con­struct and took seven-and-a-half years to build.

It was the city’s first fully ac­ces­si­ble sub­way line with el­e­va­tors at ev­ery sta­tion, and it was the first sub­way in Canada con­structed by tun­nel bor­ing ma­chines. While it was crit­i­cized as “the line that goes nowhere,” it ush­ered in new think­ing about in­fra­struc­ture in­clud­ing pub­lic art.

Each of the five sta­tions on the line fea­tures a unique work of art, which range from mu­rals to trompe-l’oeuil sketches; at the time of the sub­way open­ing, Bes­sar­ion sta­tion was her­alded by the pub­lic for its colour scheme (bur­gundy and cream) and Yonge-Shep­pard for its tiled walls.

“Artists man­aged to cre­ate works that en­gage rid­ers, turn­ing trav­ellers into au­di­ence mem­bers along the way,” Star colum­nist Christo­pher Hume wrote.

“It’s the art that hu­man­izes the sub­way and helps re­mind us that get­ting around un­der­ground doesn’t have to be dreary, dull and dirty.”

Fourteen years later, there is talk of ex­pand­ing the Shep­pard line.

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