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Roncesvalles Avenue is a north-south arterial street in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It begins at the intersection of Queen Street West, King Street West and the Queensway running north to Dundas Street West. At its southern starting point, King Street West traffic continues northward onto Roncesvalles Avenue unless the traffic turns east or west onto Queen Street West or the Queensway. At its northern end point, traffic continues onto Dundas Street, which is essentially a straight-line northern extension of Roncesvalles. Roncesvalles Avenue takes its name from the Battle of Roncesvalles, which took place in the Roncesvalles Pass in Spain in 1813. (The name 'Roncesvalles' means 'valley of thorns' in Spanish.) At this gorge, Colonel Walter O'Hara—an early 19th-century Irish settler who played a significant role in the establishment of the neighbourhood—led a regiment that fought against the retreating army of Napoleon.
Roncesvalles Avenue was a four-lane arterial roadway, although parking is allowed at all times on both sides of the street. Recent construction converted the street to two driving lanes, with the former right lanes re-purposed as permanent parking spaces, right turn lanes or streetcar platforms where necessary. Along the east side of the street from Queen Street to Dundas, the buildings are storefronts with upper apartments. Most of the buildings date from 1910 and later. Along the west side, the land usage is more diverse. At the intersection of Queen Street and Roncesvalles, there is a hotel. Behind the intersection is the large Roncesvalles Carhouse, a TTC streetcar maintenance and storage facility. Further north is the Copernicus Lodge, a retirement home. Residential usage predominates along the west side, with some commercial storefronts around the intersection with Howard Park Avenue.
Businesses along Roncesvalles Avenue are organized into the "Roncesvalles Village Business Improvement Area". The residential neighbourhood, formerly part of the former villages of Brockton and Parkdale, is today simply classified as Roncesvalles. Many of the businesses there serve the city's Polish population.
The street is normally served by the frequent 504 King streetcar, its rails embedded in the street. Major construction took place between July 2009 and December 2010 to replace water mains which run below the tracks, the tracks themselves and the road and sidewalks. The project transformed the street for virtually its entire length. The width of Roncesvalles increases at its south end, partly to allow turning streetcars access to the TTC yard. As part of the street redesign, a widened sidewalk "bumpout" was added to each stop to allow riders to board the streetcar directly from the curb. To accommodate a bike lane at a TTC stop, the bike lane would gently rise up from the main road to run on top of the bumpout. When the streetcar is boarding, cyclists are required to stop and allow riders on and off.
The first mention of Roncesvalles Avenue in atlases of Toronto was in 1860. The roadway was built to connect Queen Street with Dundas Street, then the main highway west. King Street West was extended to the foot of Roncesvalles in the 1880s. The Queensway was built in the 1950s, although a small part of Queen Street west of Roncesvalles had already been built in the 1800s.
The area around the street at the time of its construction was primarily agricultural with market gardens.