Art Awakens Commuters, Tourists: Transit Rail Stations

This blog post aims to inspire the cynic and apathetic.  In other words, art deniers don’t want to appreciate art for waiting commuters and walk-through visitors who appreciate visually distinctive stops for a liveable city.

Mosaic tile art in large exotic flowers. Dupont subway station. Toronto ON 2017. Photo by J.Chong

A city worth visiting, stopping and remembering well.  For locals and for attracting tourists to even take transit as part of their exploration.

Over and over in Calgary, there are enough politicians and locals who don’t want spend any money on any definitive public art at

Egyptian pharoh column art with pseudo hieroglyphics. Museum station on St. George subway line. Toronto Transit 2017. Photo by J.Chong

transit stations.   Maybe these same folks drive cars a lot more than take transit. They don’t have to stand around each day, waiting for a train nor they have had the experience of trying to distinguish each station stop visually in a jam-packed train.

Modern holographic wall art incorporates subway stop name with imagery tribute to its large Greek immigrant neighbourhood. Pape subway station. Toronto ON 2017. Photo by J.Chong

Opposite to dull deniers in Calgary, where in Toronto there has been permanent artwork embedded directly inside its transit subway stations for the past 40 years or more.

Mimicking northwest coast native Indian totem art. Museum subway station. Toronto ON 2017. Photo by J.Chong

My favourite is the Royal Ontario Museum subway stop along the St. George line in Toronto. Transit designers turned a dull yellow bathroom tiled station with columns mimicking museum artifacts –a Native Indian totem, an ancient Egyptian pharoh in warm earth red, black and brown tones of Nature without dungeon  darkness found in other stations.

A laneway just outside outside Coxwell subway station on east Bloor line. Toronto ON 2017. Photo by J.Chong. Waitress mural is on Terminal Station restaurant, a former transit bus station.

Inside the Dupont station along the Spadina-St. George line are giant wall tile mosaics of fantastic exotic flowers.  No idea how this relates to what is in the neighbourhood. Who cares?  It brightens another dark corner in the station.

Bottom inscription – a call to public transportation equity for all. Coxell subway station. Toronto ON 2017. Photo by J.Chong

A favourite surprise to Jack and I, is the artwork which may  have been around for over a decade outside Coxwell Station on east Bloor subway line.  Around a parking lot outside the station are community glass mosaic art embedded in cement walls.  Nearby

One of several mosaic art wall medallions. Coxwell subway station. Toronto ON 2017. Photo by J.Chong
Bee mosaic. Coxwell subway station. Toronto ON 2017. Photo by J.Chong
Holographic wall art integrates poetry. Union station. Toronto ON 2014. Photo by J.Chong

is  The Station, a restaurant that was formerly a transit ticket station.  It was adorned with painted murals of 1940-50’s era of transit commuters.  We lingered for over fifteen minutes to gaze more closely and shoot photos.

Mural, “Breaking Ground”l. York Mills subway station. Toronto ON 2018. Commemorating 5 Italian immigrant workers who died in 1960, during tunnelling work. Known as “Hogs Hollow Disaster”. Led to improved Ontario construction working legislation. Photo by L. Davis.

I welcome some permanent art installations at various transit stations. A 10 min. wait or longer can feel much longer on the light rail transit platform.

For sure, if you visit or live in Toronto, hop onto the transit train and see this wonderful art to light up transportation tunnels and corridors.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Mabel Kwong says:

    These are quite some artworks around train stations in Toronto, Ontario. The Native Indian totem seems to be a seamless part of the station, yet it stands out as something different. That is also a rather eye catching owl mosaic. I’m actually quite impressed at how well-maintained these works of art are – vandal free. Here in Melbourne, our train stations could use some jazzing up with similar works of art. There are new stations popping up around in Melbourne in the next few years, all with a modernistic design but not sure if they’ll feature works like these.


    1. Jean says:

      Generally speaking Toronto does a good job of keeping their stations clean, etc. Some of those stations inside have been completely renovated, while the station with mosaic tile flowers, is quite old. For the past few decades, but now the artwork looks contemporary and “hip” for our decade. I haven’t been to the city for awhile and there have been newer with some arresting art.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mabel Kwong says:

        I like the phrase ‘arresting art’ – sounds like the kind of art that will most certainly make you stop and admire it, and take a picture 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Lani says:

    We took a long hot walk to our local mall yesterday, and we walk to work, too. So, we get a chance to see just how ugly our city is. But even in the capital, the public stations are filled with adverts – large, obnoxious ads. I

    It’s incredibly pleasing to see that your city has taken a different route. I often rant about how I should have been a city planner as I’m such a fan of beauty, art, and the practical benefits of living in a pleasant environment.


    1. Jean says:

      It certainly depends on local politicians how they want money to be spent. Obsession in urban efficiency vs. Quality of life in neighbourhoods. One day Cambodia, etc. Will return eventually to some sanity.


  3. Sue Slaght says:

    Jean I enjoyed seeing the examples of art at stations in Toronto. It seems like an excellent example to follow for other cities

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      It sure would be.

      Liked by 1 person

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