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: Toronto, ON, Canada

Phone: (416) 392-2489

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 5Nathan Phillips Square Star Rating

5 Star Rating I went here while there was a Christmas market going on and it was beautiful! The place was very festive and there were decorations everywhere. There were a lot of people skating and a whole row of food trucks adjacent to the rink. There are always events going on here so it's always worthwhile to check out

Jeremy Hernandez - 13 days ago

4 Star Rating Wonderful area with some great photo opportunities! A little touristy but if you're willing to put up with a lot of people it's great! Also an awesome spot to go skating in the winter.

Adam H - 14 days ago

5 Star Rating Happy New year. I know it's a bit late writing this but hey!!! Better late than never. It was my first count down in public over a decade. Just that knowing the weather is going to be on the north of the equator on a new year eve in Canada wow !!! it was rare...so here we are: Despite a heavy poured rain at exact midnight, it was fun to be with hundreds of thousands of soaking wet people waiting to see fireworks I really enjoyed it. At least my daughter enjoyed it. Nathan Phillips square organizers did a good job. Thank you city of Toronto you have earned my 5 stars. Will be back again next year if the weather is on the plus side. Good luck. Best of luck to ya ' all reading this.

Nguyen Ngoc Thu - 1 month ago

5 Star Rating While visiting Toronto, checked out the Christmas Market at Nathan Phillips Square. There's always something going on here, and this time didn't disappoint. There were lots of interesting booths selling various foods and Christmas related items. All the beautiful Christmas lights, the music, and the skaters made it a beautiful experience. Loved it!

Bridgette Clark - 1 month ago

3 Star Rating This time the square fell way too crowded, not leaving any space to walk around and enjoy Christmas spirit. For me it seemed like too many booths allowed which made walking pretty impossible with all the people shopping, browsing, trying to pass towards skating rink and just walk. It’s beautiful area with all the lights and Christmas tree, but felt way too crowded.

Indre Ra - 1 month ago

Video


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

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