Toronto's new City Hall, located in Nathan Philips Square, is not nearly as enchanting as its old City Hall, which just across Bay Street (see my tip on that). The new buildings have a distinctly modern and ugly feel to them, and they tower over the surrounding area (although not the skyline, as the skyscrapers of the financial district usually block them out). In any case, this is the place for civil weddings and the like, and it is usually the scene of festivities paid for by the municipality during statutory holidays like Canada Day and New Year's Eve. There is usually a holiday display here as well. On part of the grounds you will also find a Peace Garden, with memorials for Pierre Elliot Trudeau and Pope John Paul II as well as a dedicatory plaque from Queen Elizabeth II. During the summer there are usually free shows (art, multicultural displays, etc.) that are organized by the city.
One of Toronto's distinctive characteristics is its modern architecture. Whether you like it or not, you have to admit that it's different. A perfect example of this is the City Hall. Built in 1965, it was designed by the Finnish architect Viljo Revell.
The Old City Hall, built in 1899, is now used for routine civil court proceedings. It's a fine example of Romanesque architecture, designed by E.J. Lennox (who also designed Casa Loma).
Surrounding both City Halls is Nathan Phillips Square, one of the city's main gathering spots.
Back in the late 1950's it was decided by Nathan Phillip's, the first Jewish mayor of Toronto that it was necessary to build a new administrative building to run the city's affairs. A world-wide contest was held for the design. It was won by Finnish architect, Viljo Revell who sadly did not live to see the new City Hall's opening on September 13, 1965.
The building consists of two carved concrete towers that surround a flying saucer shaped chamber where the local city council meets. This chamber seats 300 people so if you want to see Toronto's local elected officials in action, then feel free.
Before the City Hall a square has been laid out now named after Mr. Phillips. The square is very busy with locals from the business district who come here to relax during the lunchtime period on hot summer days. There is a large reflecting pool in the square which during the winter month is turned into a skating rink that is very popular. Skates can be rented at a kiosk. There are also several gardens spread out throughout the square and a large sculpture created by Henry Moore known as "The Archer". Festivals and concerts are frequently held in the square. This includes the Toronto Jazz festival which is held in late June.
On the downside, the square has been inhabited by scores of homeless people of late. However recent legislation has been passed that will hopefully clean up this problem.
This is actually the third city hall in Toronto. It is in my opinion one of the finest Neo-Romanesque buildings in North America. During the late 1800's it was decided that the present town hall was too small and a larger building was required. This new structure would act both as the municipal centre of the town and as the towns courthouse. The buildings was constructed over an eleven year span from 1888 to 1899 according to the design of Toronto architect, E.J. Lennox. At the time of its completion the City Hall was the largest municipal building in North America.
The exterior of the building is adorned with brilliant red stonework that can rarely be matched anywhere in the Americas. Some of the figures depicted on the facade are quite grotesque and are said to be of city councillors whom Lennox had fight with over budgeting. The most notable obvious feature of the Old City Hall is the dominating 103.6m high clock tower. Four gargoyles now sit peering out from the tower, overlooking Queen Street.
The interior of the Old City Hall has many interesting features such as mosaics, murals and stained glass windows.
There was talk of demolishing the old structure when Toronto built it's latest City Hall but wiser heads prevailed and the Old City Hall still stands. It still is an active courthouse. I even have had to go to court here a couple of time to bear witness in a couple of criminal cases.
Toronto's Old City Hall was home to city council from 1899 to 1966 and remains one of the city's most prominent structures. It is at the corner of Queen and Bay Streets, opposite the new City Hall in the centre of downtown Toronto. It has a distinctive clock tower which can be seen the whole length of Bay Street from Front to Queen.
Work on the Romanesque Revival building designed by E.J. Lennox began in 1889. Lennox "signed" his name in scrollwork around the first floor exterior. When it opened on September 18, 1899 it was the largest building in Toronto, and the largest municipal building in North America.
Toronto City Council moved to the new city hall in 1965, and soon after plans were made to start construction of the Eaton Centre. The original plans called for old City Hall to be knocked down and replaced by a number of skyscrapers, leaving only the cenotaph (or in one plan, the clock tower) in the front. Public outcry forced authorities to abandon these plans, and today the building is the home of the municipal courts.
An annex to this building, Manning Chambers, was demolished to make way for the current Toronto City Hall.
At the foot of the front steps on Queen Street is the Cenotaph, erected to honour the dead from World War I and World War II during Rememberance Day cermonies every November 11.
The building is sometimes used to film movies and television shows, such as This is Wonderland.
With little more than an ice skating rink and a town square in it, there isn't much to look at at Nathan Phillips Square. That being said, the old city hall is a nice building with a clock tower, and the new city hall is two nice curvilinear shapes with windows facing inward.
Heck, it's cool. And New Year's on Toronto is focused here that one night, with lots of people ringing in the new.
There's an ice rink in the winter, a fountain in the summer, and people all the time.
If you have a chance pop inside the Old City Hall, an interesting Romanesque style building dating back to 1899. City Hall was moved to a nearby modern building 1960s, the Old City Hall was converted to a courthouse. Since it is a courthouse, you are required to go through metal detectors to get a look at the interior and no interior photos are allowed.
Things to look for inside the building include the wrought iron dragon like (perhaps griffins) grotesques near the base of the Grand Staircase, removed from the building in 1947 but reclaimed by the city in the 1980s; the stained glass windows, depicting the union of industry and commerce symbolizing Toronto's evolution into a bustling metropolis, as you walk up the Grand Staircase; the marble war memorial beneath the stained glass window dedicated to citizens who lost their lives during WWII; the beautiful mosaic floor and the murals painted by George Reid. The website also says the former city council chambers are open to the public when court is not in session but the door was shut when I went.
On the outside of the building, it's hard to miss the clock tower and when you enter the building from the Queen St. side check out the grotesques on the arches, said to be caricatures of politicians from the late 19th century. I didn't know to look for Edward Lennox's face among them (he was the architect who also built Casa Loma), on the west side of the center arch, identified by his handle-bar mustache.
I thought this was one of the coolest buildings I saw in Toronto, thank heavens they didn't raze it to build the Eaton Centre!
This is a beautiful statue of the great Winston Churchill. Once again, I have to compare Toronto to Boston as there are grand statues everywhere honoring history. These are all well maintained with nice landscaping surrounding them. Take a couple of minutes to read these monuments. I find them very interesting.
This pic was taken on Queen street shortly before the sun came up. As I mentioned before, even though I rarely step foot in one, I love churchs. For some reason I like clock towers too, so this had both. The pic did come out dark, but I kind of like it that way.
What a show!!!! This week is the Winter Fesitival in Nathan Phillips Square from Jan 31 to Feb 10 and Amex is proudly present the Group From Netherlands with a show called Himalayas!
This is the story of teritorial proportion; I mean height wise, These performers performs their act on sticks, about 20 feet in height; Amazing sound and songs; The story was about love and conquere; A female desperately want a guy but because he was a warrior of the ememy, she can't be with him, "Miles a part, I sing my song and you will hear my heart beat", Together I will remember the wings you fly into my heart" is one on the songs lyrics, Amazing performance and amazing weather last night, about 8 degrees and no wind, thank God!
Pictures will come soon!!!
The two curved buildings of City Hall are the most unique among all buildings at downtown Toronto area. In front of it is the spacious Nathan Phillip Square, which is often used to host many public events, such as the annual New Year Eve countdown party. In winter, the pool is transformed into an ice skating rink. While you are there, don't miss the opportunity to go inside and have a tour of this amazing building.
City Hall began construction November 7, 1961 and opened September 13, 1965 at a cost of $31 million (1965 dollars).
- The total floor area for both East and West towers is 816,900 square feet (75,890 square
City Hall East Tower is 100 m high as 27 Floors and was built in 1965
City Hall West Tower is 80 m high as 20 Floors and was built in 1965
In the summer time you can relax in front of the huge water fountain that's in front of city hall and winter time you can go ice skating on it
Completed in 1965, this uniquely designed City Hall resembles two boomerangs enclosing a spaceship. The "spaceship" is actually the saucer shaped Council Chambers, while the "boomerangs" are two curved office towers of unequal height.
In front of City Hall you wil find Nathan Phillips Square which becomes a public skating rink in the winter time.
The Toronto City Hall is one of the most beautiful pieces of modern architecture I have ever layed my eyes upon. It looks really beautiful with ity's ingenious curves. It was built in 1965 by a Finnish architect.
In the park surrounding the City Hall you can enjoy free concerts in the summer, or go ice skating in the winter.
Besides the main lobby, the building is not accessable for the public.
Toronto City Hall is one of Toronto's best known landmarks.
Its stunning, modernist structure makes it an ideal symbol of a dynamic and growing city.
Facing City Hall, you can see the rounded structure that houses the Council Chamber, with the curved towers rising on each side. The tower on the left (west) is 20 floors tall. The east tower is higher, containing 27 floors. In all, there are 8,700 square metres of plate glass in City Hall. If you can imagine flying overhead in a plane or helicopter, you would notice that the building looks like an eye between two eyelids. How appropriate for the focal point of the city!