As promised a few posts back, I finally got around to checking out the newly opened Underpass Park. Located under and around the Eastern Avenue, Richmond and Adelaide overpasses, it is the most extensive park ever built under an overpass in Canada, and the first ever in Toronto.
The park is being constructed in two phases. The first opened on August 2nd, with the second expected in spring 2013. Earlier in the week I visited the area to see what the first half looks like!
With construction fences still up along St. Lawrence St, it was a bit hard to find a way into to the park. The easiest way is to come in along King St. East and turn onto Lower River St, the park runs on either side of it.
Underpass park is divided into three main areas. The first is West of Lower River St. This part was geared more towards smaller children.
There’s a teeter-totter, hopscotch, 4-square, swings and few “kid friendly” structures for children to play on! The floor around these attractions is made of a soft, almost spongy material… pretty cool to walk on!
Public benches border the north end of this section. The foliage behind adds a protective and natural feel to the space!
Also in this area is a public art installation by Paul Raff Studios. A collection of mirrors hang from below the overpass creating a reflection to those playing in the park… It also makes for a pretty cool photo opp!
When I first wrote about the park, I heard a lot of people voicing concerns over the potential for chunks of the bridge to fall below. Thankfully, net’s have been installed under various parts of the overpass to prevent any chance of falling debris.
The other two sections of Underpass Park are located on the East side of Lower River St. The first section contains a open area that will eventually be used for farmers markets and other public events. Just past that are two basketball nets and a mini skateboard park – complete with ramps and bars to grind on!
The park is still in it’s early stages, with a lot more planned in the coming years. I don’t want to sound too critical so early on, but if I could offer a bit of advice… it would be to add a bit more colour to the area. The vast amount of concrete in the pillars and floors still make the area feel cold. Giving them a facelift with some bold colours is one way to warm up the space… Or possibly even inviting street artists to lend their talents in wrapping the pillars with murals.
My criticism aside, Underpass Park is a huge improvement to the dead space that once was. Here’s to hoping more parks pop up under bridges throughout the City!
Be sure to make Underpass Park a stop when visiting the east end of the core… and if you’d like to live in the area, River City still has a great selection of units for sale!