A 1914 article about Union Station.


THE Grand Trunk and Canadian Pacific railways entered into an agreement something over a year ago to form a Terminal Company for the purpose of erecting and operating a union station at Toronto. The Terminal Company appointed as its consulting engineers IT. R. SaflFord, chief engineer of the Grand Trunk and J. M. R. Fairhairn, assistant chief engineer of the Canadian Pacific, with J. R. W. Amhrose, engineer of grade separation as chief engineer of the terminal. Messrs. Ross & Macdonald and Hugh G. Jones received the appointment as architects to design and supervise the construction of this work. They subsequently jointed as local associate, John M. Lyle, of Toronto. The architects were instructed by the board of engineers of the Terminal Company to study the traffic problem at Toronto in all its aspects and peculiarities, and, without dictation from either road to design a station which would adequately meet the needs of the passenger traffic of the city and to provide for the large growth of traffic indicated by the growth of population of the city and surrounding districts during recent years.

They have been vroi-king faithfully and continuously on the problem for the past ten months and have collected and tabulated all of the traffic data of the station covering the past twenty years, so far as procurable. They have also made extended inspection trips, visiting all of the larger terminals in America and have obtained from these terminals the amount of traffic being handled by them. This information has all been compiled in tables, which furnish a scientific basis for the design of the new station for Toronto. The architects’ recommendations are contained i)i an exhaustive report which was presented to the engineering board of the Terminal Company and this report has been thoroughly discussed by representative of both railroads. This report shows the passenger traffic to be equal to that of Washington, D.C., and to be half that of St. Louis or Kansas City. The baggage business is, however, surprisingly heavy, being equal to that of the Pennsylvania Station, New York, and almost as great as that of St. Louis Station, Boston South Station and Grand Central Station, New York. The parcel business bears nearly the same relation, being equal -to that of the Pennsylvania Station, New York, but is somewhat less than the Grand Central Station, South Station, Boston, Kansas City or St. Louis Stations. The fact is brought out that the average number of pieces of baggage parcels per passenger is greater at Toronto than at any large station on the Continent, so far as records are obtainable. The character of traffic handled at the St. Louis, “Washington and Kansas City union stations is similar to that at Toronto. These stations handle a heavy through and local business with heavy maximum periods occurring during certain seasons of the year. The arrangements of these stations and the relation of their present traffic to the areas provided have been very helpful in regard to the requirements for Toronto. Tn considering the design of the station, it was found that the average normal traffic at Toronto could be taken care of by a station building of somewhat smaller dimensions than the one proposed, but it is in consideration of the heavy maximum periods such as Exhibition time, June and Christmas holidays, with their attendant crowding and discomfort, which have influenced the architects in recommending the construction of a building large enough to afford a complete separation of entrance and exit traffic during heavy periods and for the time when the traffic of the station has grown to demand it. This ])rinciple of the complete separation of traffic and the method proposed for accomplishing it has been accepted by the two roads interested, and is obtained through the utilization of conditions of the site and the relation of track levels to the street. This idea of complete separation of traffic is the dominating one in the design of the station. There has been no station constructed with a similar object in view where it can be so completely accomplished as is contemplated for Toronto, and we can therefore recite no parallel case. The Grand Central station in New York provides separation of express and suburban traffic on two levels, the inbound and outbound express traffic lying further separated through the provision of additional separate station buildings. The Pennsylvania station, New York, i)r()vi(los a separate exit concourse, but the “arrangements are such as to make the meeting  of friends difficult. The new Kansas (station provides separation until the ticket lobby is reached. It so happens at Toronto that the elevation of Front street above the present track level affords an opportunity for placing a train waiting room at a level midway between the street level and the proposed exit concourse beneath the ticket lobby. This arrangement approximately averages the distances which entrance and exiting passengers have to travel and does away with all confusion and crowding and unsatisfactory arrangements for meeting friends, which have been borne by the public in the past. The great advantage to the travelling public will become immediately apparent to anyone who will analyze the operation of the station designed under these conditions. Passengers on entering the station to take trains will enter a large ticket lobby, approximately 90 ft. wide by 250 ft. long. In this lobby within plain sight are placed all of the general business facilities of the station. In the centre of the room is the information bureau ; on one of the long sides the ticket offices to the number of 20; at one end of the ticket lobby is the restaurant and at the other end the general waiting room. Opposite the ticket offices are the parcel checking counter and the baggage checking counter, each with a frontage of 50 ft. These are separated by a 40 ft. entrance passage to the train waiting room. Owing to the elevation of the railroad tracks above the street level, this room is placed beneath the tracks. Similar rooms are provided in the new Michigan Central station at Detroit, and the new union station at Winnipeg, though these are much smaller than the one proposed for Toronto. The train waiting room is reached by passing down a broad easy ramp in the entrance passage from the ticket lobby. As the stairs to trains lead directly out of this room from either side, it will naturally be a gathering place for passengers after they have completed their business in the ticket lobby. This room, though limited in height by the elevation of the tracks, will be 100 ft. 1)y 250 ft. and will be made attractive through the use of light-colored, durable materials, such as marble and glazed terra cotta, and will provide all the comforts which may be required by waiting passengers, including an abundance of light and ventilation and concessions for the sale of various articles which may be needed by the traveler. Access to trains is by stairs to the right for west-bound trains, and to the left for east-bound trains. Train bulletins and announcements concerning the arrival and departure of trains are located near each stair leading to train platforms. Passengers arriving on trains will descend separate exit stairs leading from the train platforms to separate exit concourses placed each side of and flanking the train waiting room. For passengers who wish to transfer to trains on other tracks, provision is made to pass them through to the train waiting room. Passengers wishing to exit from the station will follow along the exit passages, and during light traffic will pass into the ends of the ticket lobby where they may meet their friends, transact their business and exit to the street or to cabs. The difference in levels between the exit passages and the ticket lobby makes possible the provision of easy ramps from the exit passages to an exit concourse placed beneath the ticket lobby. During heavy periods exit passengers will pass through this exit concourse, which, except for- the ticket offices, is practically a duplicate of the ticket lobby above, and exit passengers will find all of the facilities required by them within easy access. The information counter is in the centre of the room and parcel checking and baggage claim counters are provided in locations similar to and directly beneath those of the ticket lobby. The advantages of this arrangement for passengers are that the business capacity of the station is doubled and the transaction of passengers’ business will be greatly facilitated through the absence of the interference of entering passengers. In the same manner-, passengers hurrying to trains will not be hampered by crowds of exited passengers wishing to use the facilities of the station. The arrangements for meeting friends are ideal, in that there will be but one point where all passengers can be met, irrespective of the direction from which they arrive. It is expected that checked hand baggage can be delivered to passengers in a much shorter time and passengers having to pass baggage through the customs will find the customs offices close at hand. Provision is made for cab service adjoining the exit concourse. In connection with the general waiting room at the ticket lobby level, provision is made for men’s pay and free toilets on one side and for women’s pay and free toilets, adjoining a women’s rest room on the opposite side, also a baby room, matron’s room and emergency hospital, so located as to avoid the taking of invalids through the station building proper. Toilet facilities are also provided in connection with the train waiting room. A large lunch room and restaurant are located at the easterly end of the ticket lobby. Immigration Quarters are so placed as to permit the passing of immigrants through the station without traversing the public portions of the building. Large provisions for handling the enormous baggage and mail business in the station are made in the space beneath the train viaduct, with direct communication by elevators to all the train platforms. The building is to be fitted with every modern convenience for the traveler, and we believe whether operating under light or heavy traffic, the travelling public will be able to transact its business without congestion or confusion at any time. The exterior of the building has been designed in an adaptation of Roman classic architecture, and it is the intention to secure a beautiful and dignified effect through the use of plain and simple wall surfaces and the sparing use of ornament, which becomes dingy and dirty in a few years on a building of this character. The interior of the ticket lobby will be of similar style to harmonize with the exterior. The architects and railroad officials have given extended study to all of the conditions entering into the traffic problem of Toronto and the plans prepared will afford real relief to the travelling public and will provide facilities for the traffic for many years to come. It is believed that the station when completed and operated as outlined above, will provide the best and most conveniently arranged building of its kind on the continent. The plans are now being completed and should be ready for the reception of tenders within a few weeks.


source: Construction : a journal for the architectural engineering and contracting interests of Canada, https://archive.org/download/constructionjour07macduoft/constructionjour07macduoft.pdf


THE HISTORY of skyscrapers dates back to ancient Rome. The tenement houses were so great in number and so badly constructed, that in A.D. 9 Emperor Otho, when marching against Vitellus, found his way barred for twenty miles by the ruins of tenement houses undermined by inundation. The spontaneous collapse of tenement houses at that time was so frequent an occurrence that it caused but little excitement. Tenants were constantly fearing cremation or burial in their homes and companies existed for the purpose of propping up and sustaining houses. Emperor Augustus limited the height of new houses that opened upon the streets to about sixty-eight feet in order to make less frequent such disasters. Martial alludes to a ])()or man, a neighbor, who was obliged to mount 200 steps to reach his garret. THE following announcement in regard to the R.A.I.C. Assembly has been issued by Alcide Chausse, Hon. Secretary: The Seventh General Annual Assembly of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada will be held at Quebec, Que., on September 21st and 22nd, 1914. A very interesting Programme is being prepared which will include matters of interest to every architect is cordially invited and is welcome at all test is cordially invited and is welcome at all sessions and entertainments, whether a member of the R.A.I.C. or not. The program will be sent early in August to all the members of the R.A.I.C. and will contain all the particulars concerning the Assembly. The committee of arrangements of the Assembly is composed as follows: J. H. G. Russell, J. P”. Ouelet, R. P. LeMay, A. R. Decary, and Alcide Chausse.

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