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) 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 5Nathan Phillips Square Star Rating

5 Star Rating This place is a epitome of convenience. This is multipurpose venue used for many recreational activities. It is located in heart of Downtown at Bay and Osgoode near to Osgood Hall,City Hall and multiple subway stations at a 5 min walk.I went there for Canada Day,New Year and def other celebrations.There is a always a huge turnout at events and it is quite fun with the iconic colorful Toronto Neon Sign that resides in the middle of Square. The ice skating field is great as well.

Harish Kumar - 3 days ago

5 Star Rating OMG this places is so beautiful. I spend there New Years Eve 2018, wasn’t really crowded. A lot people told because the bad weather (to cold) the skate rental were open until 10pm, the beautiful buildings around the square look stunning with the sunset light. The skate rental are kinda cheap; like $10 per 2 hours or kinda off. But this place is magical, really really have something in the air. I just loved it (I even got interviewed for the local news, because I was wearing a costume for the ‘Happy new Year’)

Violetta Henziana - 19 days ago

5 Star Rating This is a great place to be to skate on your own or with your family and friends. Feel the hustle and bustle of the city. Surrounded by lots of friendly people who are there to enjoy the downtown atmosphere. One of the things you should be concerned about is where you put your items. Make sure you keep an eye on your stuff as there's been a increase in theft of property. This should not however deter you from having a great time at this great location. Have a great time.

Mike Eikermann - 24 days ago

4 Star Rating It's a cute public square with a good ambiance. I went there during the Christmas events. There were a lot of looks selling drinks, clothes, food, jewelry and many other things, but you can easily see all of them within 30 minutes if you don't have a lot of time. If you do have the time, I wouldn't recommend trying to skate if you want to skate for fun, because when I was there, there were so many people taking up the whole ice ring that most of them couldn't skate without bumping into someone. The line for skate rental was pretty long too. Would recommend for a cute first date!

Agnes Sam - 1 month ago

5 Star Rating Great for sharing and bringing family and friends.. Really give a positive Toronto vibe. Especially because it's in the heart of downtown and a Toronto sign that's been put up definitely does the trick. Parking is just underneath the rink. It does get crowded but adds to the fun. Often times the ice is not the smoothest so wouldn't recommend for regular skates. The are rentals and food stands. Also a Halal hot dog stand was there. Best of all right next door to the Eaton center to go grab a bite after. Parking also is ample and one of the better prices in the downtown area.

Hasan Khan - 2 months ago

Video


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

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