After a 23-year absence, the horses have returned to the Kay Gardner Beltline Park Bridge. Iron Horse was a much-loved temporary art installation by Toronto artist Robert Sprachman that traversed Yonge Street just south of Merton Street from 1994 to 1996. When PLANT completed a new master plan a few years ago for the Midtown Yonge Business Improvement Area (BIA), our clients told us they were eager to re-create the artwork as a permanent gateway into their district. This objective became part of the master plan, and the official unveiling of the completed installation took place on November 30, 2019.
The title alludes to the history of the bridge: originally a horse-and-buggy overpass, the bridge became part of the Toronto Belt Line Railway in the late 19th century. The ‘iron horses’ of various passenger and freight railway services rumbled along its tracks into the 1960s, and in the 1980s the conversion of the Belt Line into its present use as a recreational trail began.
Funded by the Midtown Yonge BIA and the City of Toronto, the new Iron Horse permanent public art installation re-creates Sprachman’s horses in a durable mix of recycled fiberglass and plastic, and incorporates a solar-powered LED lighting system that illuminates the pedestrian pathway and the equine sculptures at night.