The Toronto skyline is changing by the day, and as new high-rises continue to pop up all over the city, postcard-worthy views are being transformed significantly. Many popular angles of the city skyline are almost unrecognizable when compared with similar vantage points from just a few years back, and with so much new development permanently altering our skyline we decided to revisit some of Toronto's most dramatic skyline vantage points.
All east-enders know about Riverdale Park and its commanding view of the skyline. The top of the hill located on the east side of the park, next to Broadview Avenue, has an unobstructed view of the downtown core and surrounding skyline. By far one of the most easily accessible spots on this list, you can get to this vantage point easily via TTC or car. Fun fact: Did you know that Riverdale Park was built above an early-20th century landfill? Ventilation pipes can be seen lining the top of the hill along Broadview, which allow built up methane to safely vent from the landfill below. Great views, no smell!
Arguably the most popular view of Toronto, with its broad sweep it's also the one that has changed more than any other. The islands are accessible to the public via a cheap (and scenic!) ferry ride across the harbour. Views are equally impressive from Ward's Island in the east (like below) to Hanlan's Point in the west, but Centre Island at the end of the most frequent ferry route remains the favourite choice for most tourists and locals.
Leslie Street Spit:
Similar to the view from The Islands, the Leslie Street Spit or Outer Harbour Headland offers a ferry-ride-free alternative for land lubbers, and can be accessed by foot, bicycle, or inline skates. Fun Fact: Did you know that the Leslie Street Spit was originally constructed using excavated material from various projects built in Toronto in the mid-to-late 20th century? You'll even find some early 21st century dirt there.
Toronto's Port Lands, a mostly industrial area which can be a bit windswept, has parks and a marina which see much heavier summer than winter use. Visitors to a local nightclub/entertainment complex know that the dockwall along Polson Pier offers a unique view which places the skyline on a diagonal axis following Yonge Street. Fun Fact: Most of the Port Lands area is landfill that replaced a much larger Ashbridges Bay, and the once marsh-like mouth of the Don River.
Humber Bay Shores:
Bodies of water often provide the best line of sight towards a city's skyline, as is the case with many examples above. On the west side of the city, the shores of Humber Bay offer several uninterrupted views of the downtown core off to the east. Humber Bay Park, Humber Bay Shores Park and Sheldon Lookout Park all offer similar views, and we can recommend visiting all three!
In the heart of Old Toronto, an iconic bit of historic architecture sitting in front of a vibrant urban backdrop stands as one of Toronto's most photographed angles. Fun Fact: Before the red-brick Gooderham Building was built in 1892, Toronto had another flatiron building on this location, known as the Coffin Block, it sat on the same site at the Front-Church-Wellington intersection.
Chester Hill Lookout:
One of the lesser known spots on our list, the Chester Hill Lookout offers a similar view to Riverdale Park, but in a much more intimate setting. You can find this vista - one of Toronto's best kept secrets - by meandering west from Broadview to a dead end at the western terminus of Chester Hill Road. From there you will be treated to a unique view overlooking the skyline as well as the Don Valley Parkway, the Prince Edward Viaduct and the Evergreen Brick Works.
Kensington Parking Garage:
Another hidden gem, the view from the roof of this Green P public parking garage, accessible from Baldwin and St. Andrew Streets just west of Spadina, provides a dramatic skyline view from three storeys above Kensington Market, a panorama replete with a graffiti tag-o-rama.
Bathurst Street Bridge:
Of the several above-grade crossings of Toronto's downtown rail corridor, the view from the Bathurst Street Bridge is unmatched. Fun Fact: Did you know that the Bathurst Bridge has actually been moved twice since being constructed in 1903? First serving as a railway bridge over the Humber River, the bridge was moved to carry traffic over Bathurst Street in 1916, and then realigned along with Bathurst Street to its current configuration in 1931.
There are also a number of less-accessible locations from which to view Toronto, many with entrance fees and dress codes. However, if you are looking to combine a night out on the town with dramatic urban vistas, many private and paid venues offer stunning views of the city from elevated vantage points.
A visit to the CN Tower's observation deck is among the most touristy activities one can do in Toronto, and while most locals have seen the view in person, for those who have gone 2, 5, or even 20 years without a visit are missing out on a dramatically different view than what they remember. Even bi-annual visits will yield impressive results to the eye, as this bird's-eye view changes by the day due to the sheer volume of construction currently transforming the downtown core and beyond.
Canoe (TD Centre):
Need to find a balance between gourmet dining and top-notch views? Oliver & Bonacini's 'Canoe' sits atop 66 Wellington in the heart of the Financial District.
Stock (Trump Toronto):
Another high-society haunt in the Financial District, 'Stock' has seen a lot of press since opening up in the new Trump International Hotel and Tower, but we are more interested in the views than the in-house made chocolate...right?
Roof Lounge at the Park Hyatt:
Similar to Panorama, but with a much more intimate view, the Park Hyatt's roof lounge looks out over not just the growing skyline, but down to the vibrant Avenue/Bloor intersection as well.
The Art Gallery of Ontario:
The snaking vaulted staircase which links the fourth floor of the modern tower to the fifth in the Frank Gehry-redesigned AGO make for a superb lookout over downtown… even if reflections on the curved glass can present a challenge to the photographer!
Thompson Hotel Rooftop Lounge:
The roof lounge at the Thompson Hotel offers a more inclusive atmosphere with equally impressive skyline views.
You may not be a soccer fan, but if you are an urban enthusiast and find yourself being asked to go to a Toronto FC match, request the west bleachers and thank us later.
Panorama (Manulife Centre):
A bar atop the Manulife Centre offers panoramic views across the city, hence the name. They'd prefer you to be dressed up, but the views are worth getting dressed up for! The image posted below shows the view from Panorama as seen on June 18th of 2012. Can you name all of the buildings that have been constructed since then that are missing from this image? Give it a shot in the comments section provided below!
Did we leave one of your favourite spots off of the list? Share your favourite locations in the comments section, or by posting photos in UrbanToronto's Toronto Skyline Forum thread.