Tourists everywhere love to go to shopping malls and grab some souvenirs. Or maybe they want to experience the many things a certain mall has to offer. The Mall Of America fifteen minutes from downtown Minnesota has a sprawling LEGO emporium and a seven-acre amusement park! The King of Prussia Mall in Philadelphia offers over four hundred different shops. It’s large enough for five great pyramids to fit inside of it! The Galleria in Texas has a year-round skating rink available for shoppers.
Yet, there’s a mystique to underground malls. They can be interesting because it’s underground and doesn’t take up space on land above ground. Underground malls can be a maze-like some of the larger malls in the world. Some malls are underground due to inclement weather in certain areas of the world. Houston’s famous downtown Houston Underground Mall and Tunnel System helps keep people cool with ease since it’s an underground building. Not to mention, it’s a six-mile-long mall and tunnel system for people to explore.
Los Angeles also has an underground mall to help people keep cool in the desert/beach climates. The mall has an upper and lower level with delicious food and many local vendors there. FIGat7th at the intersection of Figueroa and 7th Street in Downtown Los Angeles. Yet, as large as Los Angeles can be, the FIGat7th is not the largest underground mall in the world. Keep reading to see which mall is the world’s largest underground mall.
So, What Is The World’s Largest Underground Mall?
The world’s largest underground mall is the PATH Underground Shopping Mall in Toronto, Ontario Canada. PATH Underground Shopping Mall is seventeen miles long and goes through plenty of the famous “Hollywood North” city. The walkway facilitates many Toronto citizens to public transportation. It serves over two hundred thousand different citizens daily in getting from point A to point B while providing many different shopping centers and food places to visit. PATH has a great influence on Toronto’s economy.
PATH contains over twenty parking garages, elevated walkways, and connections to over seventy buildings in downtown Toronto. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it’s the largest underground shopping complex with over four million feet of square space and over 1,200 retail fronts.
When citizens and tourists visit the PATH, they see a general map at each entrance with the letters P-A-T-H. Each letter of PATH indicates a different color and a different direction of travel. P is red and indicates south; A is orange and indicates west; T is blue and indicates north; H is yellow and indicates east.
Some of the major buildings that PATH is connected to are the Eaton Centre, Toronto City Hall, Air Canada Centre, and the Hockey Hall of Fame. The northern point of PATH is at the Atrium on Bay at Dundas Street and Bay Street. The southern point is at Waterpark Place on Queens Quay. PATH’s main north-south axes parallel the Bay and Yonge Streets. Its east-west axes parallel the long King Street.
History Of The PATH’s Underground Mall
The history of PATH began in 1900. Eaton’s department store created a tunnel underneath James Street. It allowed shoppers to walk behind the Eaton’s main store at Queens and Yonge and to what was then City Hall. That tunnel became the first underground tunnel in Toronto and is a historic landmark in the country. The original tunnel is still a part of the PATH shopping complex to this day as it connects the Toronto Eaton Center to the Bell Trinity Square office complex.
In 1927, a second tunnel was made to connect the Royal Union Hotel and Union Station. It stayed as a part of the tunnel complex until a newer tunnel replaced it. The newer tunnel connects the Royal Union Hotel to the Royal Bank Plaza and continues to Union Station.
The Expansion History
A city planner Matthew Lawson saw a growing issue in Toronto during the sixties. Toronto’s walkways were getting overcrowded and the newer office towers were pushing the smaller local businesses out of the busy downtown district. After rallying several key developers to approve the idea, additional tunnels were built. The first expansion tunnel came along in 1967, which became the first tunnel to have shopping complexes. At first, the city provided the funding, but after an election on the city council’s reform, the funding stopped. Toronto citizens emphasized it was more important to have foot traffic above ground as it would be better for the city’s culture and to keep neighborhoods as a vital component within Toronto’s culture.
The developers worked on an agreement where the tunnels connected to major establishments above ground. A second expansion occurred in the seventies. The second development involved the underground connection of the Richmond-Adelaide Centre and the Sheraton Centre.
Expansion In The 21st Century
At the start of 2007, construction began at the north tunnel by Scotia Plaza through the Bay Adelaide Centre. The completion closed the remaining gap between the north-south route from the PATH section that parallels Yonge Street. It eliminated the need to double back from Bay Street to get to the buildings on the eastern path.
The city of Toronto released an expansion plan in 2011 that proposed forty-five different entry points. August 2014 brought forth an expansion to the southward tunnel. It brought the PATH closer to the Toronto Waterfront. It also connected the PATH to the Scotiabank Arena and the RBC WaterPark Place with a pedestrian crossing bridge. Later in the 2010s, the first publicly owned tunnel was established. The City of Toronto officials built a sixty-five million dollar, nine hundred eighty feet tunnel connecting Wellington Street to Union Station.
Things To Do In The PATH
Obviously, PATH isn’t just a boring series of tunnels, shops, and more tunnels; it connects citizens to many different buildings in Toronto. It’s connected to the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto City Hall, Air Canada Centre, CN Tower, and Brookfield Place. Brookfield Place holds the Hockey Hall of Fame, Allan Lambert Galleria, and Sam Pollock Square. It includes an enclosed above-ground skywalk. To reach the skywalk, walk on the underground route to Union Station. Then at the Union Station, walk upward a flight of stairs and you’ll reach the Great Hall. Signboards will instruct you towards the skywalk which takes walkers to the CN Tower.
Although the PATH is an underground mall itself, it connects pedestrians to other malls in the area like The Hudson’s Bay, Saks Fifth Avenue, and the Eaton’s Centre.
The subways are marked in a highlighter yellow. Some of the subway stations are College, King, Queen, Union, St. Andrew, Osgoode, Dundas, St. Patrick, and Queens Park. The PATH also has access to the GO bus terminals at Union Square and the Toronto Coach Terminal. It also has access to the GO Train station. There are walking tours available for visitors and tourists alike.
The world’s largest underground mall belongs to the PATH Underground Mall in Toronto, Ontario Canada. Construction for the mall began in 1900 as an initial tunnel to connect one area to another. After several expansions starting in the sixties, the PATH Underground Mall helps Toronto residents get to many places in the downtown Toronto area. It’s a seventeen-mile underground network with over 1,200 shopping centers that spans many tunnels and has subway and bus systems throughout the underground shopping complex.. It had its history of pushback as citizens didn’t see the underground network as a beneficial thing for Toronto’s culture. However, it is a driving factor for the city’s economy and it’s now a national tourist site for visitors.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Serena Glennon/Shutterstock.com
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