Once an unremarkable passage to Toronto’s East End, the Queen Street Viaduct, fondly dubbed the ‘Riverside Bridge’, has become an iconic landmark, thanks to the public art projects by the Riverside BIA in partnership with the City of Toronto, artists and others.
As you come along Queen Street East from Toronto’s downtown core, you enter Riverside as you come over the Queen Street bridge. Formally named the ‘Queen Street Viaduct’ and affectionately called the ‘Riverside Bridge’, the Viaduct, represents the past, present and future of Riverside. It has always been an important passage to the East end, originally built in 1803 as a wooden bridge operated by the Scadding family, which owned all the land east of the Don from the lake to present-day Danforth. In 1911, the bridge was updated to the steel truss structure you see today, and you can still see the makers mark on the steel trusses that were imported from England. This bridge is also higher in elevation than previous bridges here, and Queen Street on each side of the river was graded higher to meet this new elevation. The bridge greets those who venture into the once-wild east side, where tanneries, glue factories, brick yards and slaughterhouses were sited away from the genteel noses in the west end.
In 1996, the Riverside BIA commissioned a public art project and Eldon Garnet (among others) contributed their artistry to Riverside with the installation of the ‘Time and a Clock’ series. Most notably, “This River I Step In, Is not The River I Stand in” was installed atop the Riverside Bridge. The artwork not only made this an iconic landmark in Toronto but sparked a revitalization of the Riverside neighbourhood and unified the people within the community. The art references the Greek Philosopher Heraclitus’ notion that you cannot step into the same river twice.
On June 5th of 2015, the Riverside Gateway Bridge Project, a 3-year $500,000 capital improvement project was completed to stylishly illuminate the bridge, including the iconic art, each night. The colourful Riverside wayfinding art on the posts you see on each side of the bridge was also added at that time.
About the “Time and a Clock” Installation
It is the essence of time, its substance and ambiguity that is examined in this sculpture/installation. ‘Time and a Clock’ is actually one work in three sites, marking the gateways of the Riverside BIA (Bridge and Empire Ave) and the heart of the BIA (Queen/Broadview intersection) with sculptural text. Three different types or styles of time-related text are included in the series, one for each site. Following are the ‘Artists Statements’ about each piece:
Art piece #1: On the eastern entrance to this area of the city, on the Queen Street Bridge a line of text:
THIS RIVER I STEP IN IS NOT THE RIVER I STAND IN. Stainless steel letters, 18 inches in height, supported between steel beams, a six foot diameter ring of light as a clock.
Stainless steel: 24″ wide x 72″ high x 40′ long
Clock: 60″ diameter
Art piece #2: At the intersection of Broadview and Queen Street: stainless steel checker plate, 19″ high letters; four expressions dealing with time; embedded in the sidewalk at four corners:
TOO SOON FREE FROM TIME; TIME IS MONEY: MONEY IS TIME; BETTER LATE THAN NEVER; TIME=DISTANCE X VELOCITY.
Stainless steel checkerplate 19″ high letters
Coloured concrete: 24″ height x 35′ radius
Stainless steel checkerplate letters: 24″ high
Each corner: 35′ approximate radius
Art piece #3: Beside the Jimmy Simpson Park are four stainless steel pennants, four declarations of time, a lyrical poem, one word per pole:
COURSING, DISAPPEARING, TREMBLING, RETURNING.
The text in this work is written for a metropolis of readers who may read one word today at one site, or the next day the entire text at the three sites. The words fly by us as we fly past them. It is in parts, read in parts; never at one place at one time. It is text in flux.
Stainless steel: 36′ wide x 22′ high
Take a self-guided walking tour of this and other Riverside Public Art!