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Text by James Bow and Richard White

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Lawrence station is the first station north of Eglinton on the North Yonge extension. It opened to the public on March 31, 1973, and shares a number of characteristics of the other three stations of the North Yonge extension. The station serves the Yonge/Lawrence intersection in the heart of the old village of North Toronto, but it has never been a terminal station, and so is less prominent as a regional transit hub than the stations on either side of it.

The Short Main Street

Lawrence Avenue was a concession road, which meant that, in theory, it stretched across the breadth of Toronto. In practise, however, most of Lawrence was late to develop. Toronto developed as an inverted “T”, with eastern and western flanks of development stretching along the lake, and a northern finger of development following Yonge. The first public transit along Lawrence Avenue came in the form of the LAWRENCE bus on May 1, 1934, operating as a short U-shaped line from Melrose & Elm via Elm, Lawrence Avenue and Ronan to Snowdon. West of Bathurst and east of Bayview, the area around the concession road was primarily rural, with only the development around the village of Weston, kilometres west, providing a break. Topology also had a play limiting traffic demand on Lawrence as the Don River Valley prevented through traffic on Lawrence east of Bayview.

Following the Second World War, however, Toronto began to grow, and urban sprawl paved and developed the rural areas between Bathurst and Jane, although traffic from the east continued to be limited by the cut in Lawrence Avenue at the Don River valley. The 52 LAWRENCE bus extended west, and when the YONGE subway opened to Eglinton, service was extended down Yonge to the station during rush hours. While the 54 LAWRENCE EAST bus materialized on September 1, 1963, the topology of the Don Valley prevented that route reaching the Lawrence/Yonge intersection. To this day, it continues to operate out of Eglinton station further south.

Extending the Subway North

Initial plans for the North Yonge extension materialized in the 1960s, as Metropolitan Toronto considered proposals to take the line to Steeles, with an interim terminal at Sheppard. Initial plans called for “mid-block” stations at Glencairn and at Yonge Boulevard, but subsequent plans eliminated these in favour of maintaining local bus service. Instead, stops would be around two kilometres apart, at the major arterial roads of Lawrence, York Mills, Sheppard and Finch.

The Yonge extension was built via a tunnel beneath Yonge Street. This was done to limit the amount of expropriation required to build the route, and to build the line beneath the Don River at York Mills. Lawrence station was built beneath the intersection, and because of this alignment, is one of the deepest stations on the subway network. At the south end of the train platform, stairs and escalators lead up to an underground bus terminal accessed by twin tunnel portals on either side of Lawrence Avenue (in the case of the southern portal, it comes out in the right-of-way of what used to be Cortland Avenue.

Above the bus terminal, a mezzanine level features fare gates and a collector’s booth, and access to stairs and escalators leading to entrances on both sides of Yonge Street, north of Lawrence Avenue. The entrance off the north-east corner of the intersection is its own building, a modest, single-story building with concrete and glass walls and an overhanging roof. The entrance off the north-west corner of the intersection is a similar structure that has been built within a larger commercial development at 3080 Yonge Street.

At the northern end of the train platform, a set of stairs and an escalator lead up to an automatic entrance with two sets of stairs leading to sidewalk entrances at Ranleigh Avenue (east of Yonge) and Bedford Park Avenue (west of Yonge). This exit features one of the longest staircases on the subway network (the escalator at the south entrance to York Mills is longer, however). The depth of the station made it one of the most expensive in the history of the TTC.

A Sense of Style

Lawrence station was built to the same early 1970s modernist style of the rest of the North Yonge extension. Because so much of the station is underground, it has very little visual presence on the street, with modest entrances near the Lawrence/Yonge intersection. Inside, the station features the same clean lines, and the special tile patterns of the other stations on the North Yonge extension. The station has a colour scheme of red tiles bearing the station name, separated by blocks of yellow tiles. It’s a similar arrangement to Sheppard station, except it features blue tiles in place of the red. The mezzanine level below the street features plain red brick on most of its walls (including the northern entrance), although some shiny blue ceramic tiles provide accents. In the bus level and the stairs leading to the northern mezzanine, yellow tiles predominate.

The station features a double crossover south of the platform, and a large multilevel storage area to the north unofficially referred to as the “Lawrence Station attic”. The station was never planned as a terminal, however. That honour fell temporarily to its northern neighbour York Mills when the first stage of the North Yonge extension opened in March 1973, before moving to Finch on March 30, 1974.

Construction Issues

Like the rest of the North Yonge extension, Lawrence station was affected by the labour disputes that disrupted construction. Strikes delayed the opening beyond 1972, and the station opened without its escalators in service (these would come into service months later). Once the work was done, however, the station settled into many years of trouble free operation. The station’s bus terminal provided a convenient link to the 52 LAWRENCE, which became an important route serving the west end of York and central Etobicoke. The terminal also served buses to the east, including 11 BAYVIEW and [28 DAVISVILLE]/bus/routes/28-davisville.shtml). In recent years, however, its services to the east have become more local, such as 124 SUNNYBROOK and 162 LAWRENCE-DONWAY.

The station did serve as a temporary terminal for buses on Yonge street, as the 97 YONGE route was occasionally split when construction hampered reliability. Lawrence station served as the southern terminus of the portion of the route continuing to Steeles Avenue, and at one point this route was given the special designation of 197 NORTH YONGE.

In 2012, however, the station had to undergo significant renovations when it was discovered that the decking separating the bus roadways from the subway tracks below was wearing out. One of the two twin tunnels was closed and all bus service shifted over to the other underground road while crews shored up supports. During these renovations, which continued until the middle of 2015, four high-capacity fire ventilation fans were installed in the station.

These renovations did not alter the entrances to the station, or make the station wheelchair accessible. On May 27, 2015, however, TTC staff recommended revamping this entrance, in response to proposals by the building’s owner to renovate the building. The renovations would offer TTC patrons a larger, brighter, glassed-in enclosure to wait for connecting buses, and elevators connecting this entrance to the mezzanine, bus and subway levels. Better yet, the building owner would bear the full cost of the entrance construction. Although TTC Commissioners approved these plans, progress has been slow. Lawrence station is not expected to be wheelchair accessible before 2021.

Service Notes (as of November 26, 2017):

  • Off-Site Resources:
  • Line: 1 Yonge - University - Spadina
  • Hours of Operation:
    First Train to Finch: 5:42 a.m. weekdays, 5:52 a.m. Saturdays/holidays, 8:07 a.m. Sundays.
    First Train to Union/Vaughan: 5:46 a.m. weekdays, 5:50 a.m. Saturdays/holidays, 8:05 a.m. Sundays.
    Last Train to Finch: 2:07 a.m. weekdays, 2:06 a.m. weekends and holidays.
    Last Train to Union/Vaughan: 1:30 a.m. weekdays, 1:29 a.m. weekends and holidays.
  • Address: 3101 Yonge Street
  • Opened: March 31st 1973
  • Average Weekday Ridership: 24,560 (2015), 24,590 (2014); 25,590 (2013), 25,040 (2012), 21,470 (2011), 22,230 (2010), 26,490 (2009), 21,660 (2008)
  • Entrances:
    • Bedford Park Road (Automatic Entrance)
    • Ranleigh Ave (Automatic Entrance)
    • Yonge Street and Lawrence Ave East (EAST SIDE)
    • Yonge Street and Lawrence Ave West (WEST SIDE)
  • Escalators (click here for maintenance schedule):
    • Concourse to Yonge Street - East Side (UP at all times)
    • Concourse to Yonge Street - West Side (UP at all times)
    • Concourse to Bus level (DOWN at all times)
    • Bus Level To East Side Of Concourse (UP at all times)
    • Bus Level To South end of train platform (DOWN at all times)
    • South End Of Train Platform To Bus Level (UP at all times)
    • Bedford Park Automatic Entrance Concourse To Train Platform (DOWN at all times)
    • Train Platform To Bedford Park Automatic Entrance Concourse (UP at all times)
  • Not Accessible
  • Forms of fare payment include credit or debit
  • Centre platform
  • Token vending machine

TTC Surface Connections:

Lawrence Station Image Archive

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