Toronto's Old and New City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square

Toronto City Hall is a striking landmark featuring a modern architectural design which sharply contrasts the Romanesque Architecture of the adjacent Old City Hall

Nathan Phillips Square and the Toronto City Hall at Christmas
Nathan Phillips Square and the Toronto City Hall at Christmas cc licensed photo by Alex Guibord

The adjacent new and old Toronto City Halls overlook Nathan Phillips Square, a popular gathering place for locals and visitors alike. The modern design of the New City Hall which opened in 1965, stands in sharp contrast to the 1899 architecture of the adjacent Old City Hall.

The new Toronto City Hall islocated on a large tract of land north of Queen Street West and west of Bay Street, which was the site of Toronto's first Chinatown. Much of Chinatown had to be displaced to the northwest in order to accommodate the new City Hall.

The modern design was created by Finnish architect Viljo Revell along with associates Heikki Castren, Bengt Lundsten, and Seppo Valju who won a contest to come up with the best design. The modern design consists of a rectangular base from which two curved towers rise to different heights. The circular council chambers are constructed on top of the rectangular base in between the two towers. The tallest tower reaches 27 stories (326 feet).

In front of the City Hall is a courtyard called Nathan Phillips Square featuring a reflecting pool which is used as an outdoor skating rink during the winter months, as well as the Peace Garden which serves as a memorial to the bombing of Hiroshima. The square features a weekly farmers' market, the winter festival of lights and is also used for concerts and art displays.

In stark contrast to the new Toronto City Hall and surrounding buildings, the Old City Hall sits next door and features Romanesque Architecture including a 340 foot clock tower complete with gargoyles and the third largest clock in the world. Built in 1899 this historic Toronto Building now serves as the Ontario Court of Justice.

For anyone interested in architecture, both old and new, Toronto's City Halls are a great place to explore.

Facts For Your Visit

Fee: No

Address: 100 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5H 2N2, Canada

Phone: (416) 203-2600

Official Website: Toronto City Hall

Directions

TTC Subway Line Nearest Station Walking Time
Yonge-University-Spadina Osgoode or Queen Station3-4 Minutes

How to get to Toronto City Hall by TTC Subway

No Bus required. From Osgoode Station walk east along Queen Street West or from Queen Station walk west along Queen Street West. Nathan Philips Square and the Toronto City Hall is located on the north side of Queen Street West about half way between these two stations.

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Reviews

Rated 4.5 out of 5

3 Star Rating In the summer there's lots of festivals and events here, check out their local listings to choose which event to go to. The location is big enough but dated. The design is old and may have worked in the mod era but not really world-class now. It is a government office so expect government office type services and level of customer service. Some are nicer than others but not an uncommon occurrence in these types of work unfortunately. Overall, go there if you want a photo of the "Toronto" sign, to complete a government related transaction, or to attend an event. Otherwise, the building next door is more instagrammable-worthy.

Robin - 8 days ago

5 Star Rating Always a good place all year round. You will often find festivals concerts and other activities. Great in winter for ice skating. Be ware of the evil seagulls, specially if you just bought food at one of the parked food trucks. Somtimes I wonder if they are a team... you buy some fries get chased by seagulls drop the fries and buy them again... 😅

Osama Verse-Atile Hussain - 13 days ago

5 Star Rating Really awesome place in a great city. So much cool and picture-worthy stuff here between the Toronto sign and the "UFO saucer" City Hall chambers. Cheap parking right across the street. It was busy, but everyone was polite and took their turns with the best photo ops. Great representation of city pride. If you're not from Toronto and visit here- you'll wish you're city would do something this neat.

Joe Nemec - 16 days ago

5 Star Rating Lovely place to stroll around, take pictures, or sit and chat. At night the CANADA 150 sign lights up and changes colors. The reflection pool in the square adds to the look and feel of the plaza. The brain artwork along the edge of the pool adds something for people to look at and talk and read about.

Veronica Hui-Rodriguez - 24 days ago

4 Star Rating Very crowded, but it is a nice place to get your photo taken in front of the Toronto sign. May have to wait for people to get out of the way on a busy summer day. Beautiful area to relax in and take in the view of the City Hall and enjoy the sights. Food trucks provided a great snack while we visited. Great place to visit!

Roman Blevins - 26 days ago

Video


Spectacular aerial view of the fireworks at Nathan Phillips Square filmed during the Pan Am 2015 Games

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