Did you know that the city of Toronto has more cranes in it working on construction that Mexico City and New York combined? I know, woah! Residents of the city can walk down a street that they see every day and all of a sudden there will be a huge billboard giving you details of a new building that’s going up, and it’s usually a condo.
With a city that’s expanding so much you can imagine that there are some beautiful (and not so beautiful) masterpieces being erected every single day, and these new innovations as well as some old gems make Toronto a stunning city to stroll around. Here are just a few of the buildings you might find in your Toronto Architecture Highlights.
Old & New City Hall
The old and new City Halls of Toronto stand next to each other as a reminder of the ways that the architectural world has moved forward in under 100 years. Old City Hall was completed in 1899 and at that time was one of the largest buildings in Toronto and largest civic buildings in North America. The towers and conical roofs coupled with the red stone used to build it remind the citizens of Toronto of a time when not everything was 20+ storeys high.
In 1965 the new City Hall was inaugurated, dwarfing the old with its two curved buildings, one at 20 storeys high, the other at 27. The new City Hall was nicknamed the ‘Eye of the Government’, as when viewed from above its two curved buildings plus the dome in the center makes it look like an eye. It’s interesting to see these two structures next to each other and how different the designs were made.
Royal Ontario Museum
Otherwise just simply known as ROM, the Royal Ontario Museum is the largest museum in Canada for world culture and natural history. While what’s on the inside is very interesting, the outside of this building has to be added to this list because of the additions made to it in 2007. The original ROM building was a fairly simple, standard museum space, but with the grand opening of ‘The Crystal’ in 2007, the ROM got way more interesting.
This jagged, oddly-shaped, glass and aluminium structure sticking out from the original building was hailed by some as a monument and masterpiece, but has also been voted by others as amongst the top ten ugliest buildings in the world. It certainly is a bizarre juxtaposition to behold, so go and check it out for yourself to form your own judgement.
What would any article about Toronto architecture be without the CN Tower. This mammoth structure dominates the Toronto skyline and is as signature to the city’s character as the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Space Needle in Seattle. When it was completed back in 1976 it was the world’s tallest tower, a title it held for 34 years, although it does still cling onto the winner of the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere today.
From the top of the tower you can bask in the glorious views of the city, eat in the restaurant, or take a few steps on the glass floor and look down in the city below. That isn’t even the most daring thing you can do up there – thrill-seekers can voluntarily strap themselves to the tower and hang from its sides, otherwise known as the CN Tower EdgeWalk. Try it if you dare!
Art Gallery of Ontario
It once stood alone in the middle of a snowy plot of land before the expansion of Toronto went wild, and now it’s one of the swankiest buildings in town. In 2004 the city spend $254 million giving the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) museum a makeover, and it’s now the proud owner of a titanium and glass south wing, a huge façade spanning Dundas Street named Galleria Italia, and a stunning spiral staircase inside Walker Court. It took four years for the city to reopen the AGO, but when it did its cool and crisp design was met by mostly positive responses. Taking a trip inside is worth the visit as it houses over 80,000 pieces of art, but if you’re not all that bothered about that then taking a stroll around the outside will surely suffice.
Humber Bay Arch Bridge
This pedestrian and cycle bridge to the west of the city that flies over the Humber River is perfect for budding photographers who want to test out their angle shots. It’s one of the most popular routes for residents who only use their feet or pedals to travel, which makes it a calm break from all the hooting and hollering of all the traffic in the city. Don’t expect greatness in comparison to the Sydney Harbour or Golden Gate bridges, for example, as the Humber Bay is only 139 meters long, but it’s a great alternative spot to capture views of downtown. Not only that, but this attraction is 100% free.
This small list is by no means the limit to Toronto’s architectural prowess, and it should be stressed that there are many more buildings to be admired in this huge city. These are just a few of our personal favorite and must-see attractions for architecture lovers, but Toronto has plenty more in store for visitors.
Have you been to Toronto? What’s your Toronto Architecture Highlight?