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University Avenue (Toronto): Wikis


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University Avenue near College Street, with the Ontario Legislative Building visible in the background
University Avenue near College Street, circa 1900

University Avenue is a major north-south road in Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It begins at the intersection of Front and York streets near Union Station and heads northwest for a short distance before turning north. At Adelaide Street West, the avenue divides slightly, leaving room for a median of greenery and sculptures between the north and southbound lanes.

The avenue ends at College Street, where it splits into Queen's Park Crescent East (northbound) and West (southbound). Between these two roads is Queen's Park, the home of the Ontario Legislature. The building creates a terminating vista for those looking north along University. The legislature's site was originally home to the main building of the University of Toronto, and this is the origin of the avenue's name. Today the university surrounds the legislature, but no university buildings are actually on University Avenue.

North of Bloor Street, the road continues as Avenue Road.

While Yonge Street is the emotional heart of the city and Bay Street the financial hub, University Avenue is arguably Toronto's most prestigious thoroughfare. The boulevard is unusually wide for Canadian cities (except for Winnipeg), as it expands from 6 lanes wide (just past the jog at Front and York streets) to 8 lanes wide (just past the divide past Adelaide W). The speed limit is 50km/h, recently reduced from 60km/h.

The northernmost part of the street is dominated by a series of hospitals. These include the Toronto General Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto Rehab, and the Hospital for Sick Children. This stretch is occasionally referred to as "Hospital Row" by locals and the Media. The intersection of University and College is also home to the headquarters of Ontario Power Generation.

The rest of the street is home to a variety of corporate offices and provincial government buildings. Historically, this imposing marble and concrete façade has met with mixed reviews. Noted Canadian author and historian Pierre Berton commented that University Avenue "was rendered antiseptic by the presence of hospitals and insurance offices... the pristine display of wall-to-wall concrete that ran from Front Street to Queen's Park."

Statue of Adam Beck in the boulevard, between northbound and southbound lanes

University Avenue has matured and mellowed somewhat since Berton's bleak observation. Restaurants now dot the southern end of University Avenue. Recently completed at the intersection of University and Queen Street is the Four Seasons Centre, which is the new home of the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada. Osgoode Hall presents stately architecture and a welcome green space. During the holiday season, festive lights illuminate the trees and shrubs of the boulevard. Unlike most major streets in Toronto, there are no rooftop billboards visible from University Avenue due to a bylaw.

A portion of the University line portion of the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line runs the length of University Avenue.



  • Berton, Pierre (1995). My Times: Living with history 1947-1995. Toronto: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-25528-4

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