Saturday, October 6, 2018

Under Toronto

PATH "direction signs"
The first year I retired, I went with Regis to Montreal while she was attending a conference, and I discovered the “underground city”, which was 33 km of tunnels connecting buildings in downtown Montreal. The tunnels allow people to move around the city under the cold and snow of the Quebec winters. With time on my hands, I really enjoyed exploring this interesting underground part of the city. I even found a nice linen suit I had been looking for in a little shop in one of the tunnels.

Where is everyone?
Years later while picking up a cruise in Houston, I discovered they also had a “tunnel” system. In Texas of course the goal is to keep people out of the summer heat rather than the cold, and their tunnel system is just under 10 Km long, but it is very well organized, and new building in the area are required to connect to the system. I wrote a Tripadvisor review of this attraction after walking most of it one afternoon, entitling it “How not to see Houston”, and for some reason this title attracted hundreds of readers, the most of any of my reviews by a huge margin.

At least someone is using PATH
On this trip to Toronto I explored Toronto's tunnel system. It is called PATH, and is over 30 km long and contains over 4,000,000 sq ft of retail space – the largest underground shopping complex in the world. The bulk of the PATH system is under the “Financial District”, so its primary use is during business hours, and on a damp rainy Saturday when we decided to explore the PATH not only were the tunnels mostly deserted, nothing much was open. You could follow the PATHs, but most stores and restaurants were locked up
tight. Apparently over 200,000 people use the tunnels most days, but we were often completely alone.

The PATH, is often very difficult to follow. You are underground, so have no reference points to follow and the tunnels turn and twist through buildings, subway stations and food courts so it is easy to get turned in the wrong direction. The city has developed a system of directions and signage to help explorers find their way around, but we discovered that although the signs help when you can find them, some areas do not have any signs. Union Station for example which is confusing anyway contains minimal signage. They use a system of coloured arrows to show which direction you are headed, Blue - North, Yellow – East, Red – South, and Orange – West. You would think this would help, but we discovered one sign that had the colours and the directions mixed up and we headed in the wrong direction.

It was a good way to spend a damp morning, and we had
Nothing open down here today.

pretty well fulfilled our “Toronto To-Do” list, and I will certainly be coming back to see what it is like during a business day.

This sign is completely WRONG!


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