The Queen Street Viaduct, or ‘Riverside Bridge’ has become Riverside’s most iconic landmark thanks to the public art project by the Riverside BIA in partnership with the City of Toronto, renowned local artists and others.
The passage was originally built in 1803 as a wooden bridge. In 1911, the bridge was updated to the structure you still see today. The steel truss century old bridge now known for its unique appearance and modern nighttime illumination got its artistic facelift in 1996. Artist Eldon Garnet with the help of others, created the “Time: and a Clock” multi-piece art series for Riverside. The first piece in the series, which sits proudly atop the bridge, took inspiration from Greek Philosopher Heraclitus.
“This river I step in is not the river I stand in”
The locally famous phrase on the bridge art is referring Heraclitus’ notion that one cannot step into the same river twice as new water continues flow on those who step into a river. Like water, time continues to flow. It is constantly in motion, never standing still. The commissioned artwork fuelled the Riverside community which in turn sparked the neighbourhood’s revitalization. The art installation helped bring the business-community together with renewed purpose and identity as home to one of Toronto’s most well-known landmarks.
On June 5th of 2015, the Riverside Gateway Bridge Project, a 3-year capital improvement project was completed to 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. The bridge was illuminated just in time for the 2015 Pan Am Games. It was a way to put Riverside on the map as the world would be on Riverside’s doorstep.
The “Time and a Clock” art series has three parts, all building on the theme of the flowing of time. All situated in the neighbourhood’s nerve centers. You can find the art pieces on the Riverside Bridge (Queen St Viaduct), in the four corners of the Queen and Broadview intersection, and beside Jimmy Simpson Park. Artist Eldon Garnet explains that you can’t experience the artwork in one moment; it is a process over a period of time to visit each site to get the whole picture of the installation.
Art Piece Site #1 – On the eastern entrance of Riverside, on the Queen Street Bridge. “THIS RIVER I STEP IN IS NOT THE RIVER I STAND IN”.
Caption: photo taken at the unveiling of the lights of the Riverside Gateway Bridge Project in June 2015
Art piece #2 – At the intersection of Broadview and Queen Street: 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” and “TIME=DISTANCE X VELOCITY”
Art piece #3 – Beside Jimmy Simpson Park are four stainless steel pennants, four declarations of time, a lyrical poem, one word per pole: COURSING, DISAPPEARING, TREMBLING, RETURNING.
The “Time and a clock” art series spear headed future Riverside public art projects and has solidified the importance of art in the community. The art pieces are also part of the Riverside public art self-guided walking tour, check out the other stops on the tour virtually!
The ‘Riverside BIA 40 Years, 40 Stories’ Series is part of how we’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of this incredible neighbourhood of community-builders.