New City Hall, which replaced Old City Hall in 1965 to accommodate a rapidly growing city, is the current seat of Toronto’s municipal government. Designed by Finnish architect Viljo Revell, winner of the city’s international competition, City Hall is comprised of two curved towers as well as Nathan Phillips Square, Canada’s largest public square.
Located in the heart of Downtown Toronto on Queen Street West, New City Hall is a stop on most private tours, which typically include nearby attractions such as Kensington Market, the University of Toronto, and the Bell Lightbox Theater. Private tours eliminate the stress of navigating and offer the flexibility to customize the itinerary. The City of Toronto’s website also offers a self-guided tour, which provides little-known facts about City Hall’s highlights, from a mosaic made of nails in the main entrance to a hidden time capsule.
Helicopter tours provide rare birds’-eye views of Toronto landmarks, including Lake Ontario, the CN Tower, and New City Hall. From above, New City Hall has been said to resemble a giant unblinking eye, giving it its nickname “The Eye of Government.”
Things to Know Before You Go
- New City Hall is a must for history and architecture buffs.
- The two entrances for the underground parking lot are on Bay Street and Queen streets.
- New City Hall is wheelchair accessible.
- Bathrooms are located in the East Hall basement.
How to Get There
New City Hall’s central downtown location makes it easily accessible using Toronto’s public transit system. The nearest transit stops are Queen metro station, Queen Street and Bay Street on streetcar 501, and Dundas Street and Chestnut Street on bus 505. In addition to bike racks on both the east and west sides of City Hall, a dock for Toronto’s bike share program is located on Bay Street.
When to Get There
Nathan Phillips Square, located in front of City Hall, is a public space used for a range of events, including farmers’ markets, movie screenings, and winter ice skating. A full calendar is available on the City of Toronto’s website. In addition, City Hall’s 27th-floor observation deck is open once a year during Doors Open Toronto. City Hall is open to the public from 8:30am to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday.
City Hall’s podium green roof is the largest publicly accessible green roof in Canada, and one of Toronto’s hidden gems. Opened to the public in 2009, the roof offers a quiet respite from the bustle of city life, with benches, walkways, and terraces that offer rare views of downtown. In addition to providing a quiet public space, the roof saves the city money and energy by insulating City Hall and improving the surrounding air quality.