ABOUT TORONTO’S PATH UNDERGROUND WALKWAY AND PEDESTRIAN NETWORK
Definition: The PATH is a network of climate controlled pedestrian walkways connecting a wide range of buildings and destinations to subway and rail stations in downtown Toronto.
The primary purpose of the PATH is as a pedestrian transportation network. Many downtown workers know exactly where they’re going as part of their daily commute or job responsibilities. Second, the PATH is a massive shopping complex and amenity package allowing those who work downtown to find any product or service they need.
The PATH includes:
- 70+ buildings connected
- 1200+ retail locations
- 6 subway stations, including Union Station
- 200,000 downtown workers use the PATH each day
- 78% of Financial District workers use the PATH each day to get around
- 64% of Financial District workers shop in the PATH at least once per week
Who owns the PATH?
A majority of the PATH is privately-owned space, so you’re actually walking through the basements of about 70+ different properties. Between buildings in above or below ground connections, you’re probably on the City of Toronto’s right-of-way. However, there is generally an agreement in place that the connecting buildings will ensure safe and clean operations of the link. The City of Toronto does oversee the PATH logo and map while licensing it out to the properties and businesses that implement it.
History: How did the PATH grow to 70+ buildings?
For the most part, the PATH expansion over the decades has been organic and market driven to attract shoppers, hotel users and office workers to an area where everything is connected underground and not impacted by the weather. The expansion can be seen in three steps:
- Keeping customers indoors.
In the early 1900’s, major businesses avoided requiring their consumers to go outdoors in the Canadian winters. The Royal York always had a connection to Union Station. The Eaton buildings were connected even before there was an Eaton’s Centre.
- Keeping streets from overcrowding
In the 1960’s and 1970’s, major new office towers were going up and City planners foresaw overcrowding of streets as a possibility as most buildings had 5,000 or more tenants. Connecting them underground and connecting them to the subway stations and Union Station was an innovative solution that also afforded the buildings an opportunity for underground retail and services that would have access to a larger number of overall PATH users.
- The PATH is amazing. We need to be connected to it.
New buildings built in the last decade have been led by the growth of major employers who are now bringing employees from all over the city into one building. Many of their employees are used to using the PATH for convenience and it only seems natural to extend that convenience to any new building in the PATH.
Who’s in charge of security for the PATH?
All buildings connected to the PATH are either large office complexes or major properties that have private security patrolling their space. There is a formal communications network in place among the PATH buildings that coordinate between properties as necessary.