How the Gardiner Expressway Will Give You Goosebumps

For those not familiar with Toronto, the Gardiner Expressway is a raised concrete highway that is, as many people see it, an ugly grey ribbon that irreconcilably severs downtown from our lakefront. For us, no Boston-style Big Dig.

But what most people have never seen is the part of the Gardiner between Strachan Avenue and Bathurst Street that soars 47 feet above the ground as a dramatic architectural corridor, what Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde describes as a post-modern concrete cathedral adorned with Roman pillars.

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Thanks to a $25M donation by the Judy and Wilmot Matthews Foundation, this historical but forgotten part of the Gardiner underground is being transformed into The Bentway*, a nearly 2 km urban park trail and series of public spaces that follows the original 18th century Toronto shoreline.

According to Dave Carey, The Bentway's Director of Development, The Bentway will feature a skating path with weekly skating parties, farmers markets, interesting food and beverage, a covered outdoor amphitheatre at the west end, festivals, gardens, and a cycling and walking trail through the entire site. And you can expect a good dose of public art.

And if you have any concerns about how much the park will be utilized, fear not. Currently an estimated 77,000 people live within a 10-minute walk, and 150,000 by 2030.

I can't wait.

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*The Bentway is named after "bents", the column-and-beam structures that frame the space under the Gardiner.