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Toronto without the Tower (part II)

Posted by Derek Flack / April 29, 2011

Toronto without the TowerAbout a year and a half ago, I put together a post called A CN Tower-less Toronto, in which I used Photoshop to remove the city's most iconic structure from its skyline. The whole exercise was a little theoretical back then, so I've always wanted to do a follow up that was a bit less serious. And after reading some comments on a recent post about how Toronto's skyline stacks up against others around the world, I knew it was about time.

The comment that piqued my interest the most put forward the theory that "the problem with Toronto's skyline isn't height or density, it's that the CN [Tower] dominates over everything." That's an interesting idea — and I have to admit the ubiquity of the tower is sometimes a drag — but overall I can't say I agree. Not only does the tower serve as the focal point of our skyline from almost all angles, without it, the city generally looks anonymous.

So let's have another go at "pin the tower on the city." All of the photos below feature a scene in which the CN Tower has a commanding presence. Can you guess where it should be? Just in case you have trouble, I've embedded a slideshow that should clear things up.

Toronto Without the Tower

Toronto Without the Tower

Toronto without the Tower

Toronto Without the TowerOriginal photo by Wherever I Roam.

Toronto without the TowerOriginal photo by ZaNiaC.

Toronto without the TowerOriginal photo by Bruvyman.

Toronto without the TowerOriginal photo by John Vetterli.


For more photos like this, check out the previous post mentioned above.

One quick note about the photos. Numbers one through four are my own, and numbers five through eight were downloaded via a Creative Commons adaptation and modification license.



qwerty / April 29, 2011 at 11:04 am
Now it just looks like a generic skyline.
jameson / April 29, 2011 at 11:08 am
machinegunner / April 29, 2011 at 11:08 am
Can you photoshop the Eiffel Tower into our skyline. Maybe that would be a more useful waste of your time.
Jb / April 29, 2011 at 11:09 am
Keep the tower...I look at these pics and don't know where I am. Like or not at this point it is part of Toronto. I love being able to find from most locales in the GTA and know which direction to head. I love seeing it coming around the Lake from the West growing as I get closer to home. I love seeing it from the top of the DVP knowing that I am heading in the right direction, or at downsview park knowing the buzz that takes place around it. I love triangulating where I live from where I am using the tower as a landmark. Cheesy? Yes. Romanticized? Yes. Without it I am as lost as Rob Fords transit plan.
eyesclosed replying to a comment from Jb / April 29, 2011 at 11:15 am
Are you really that clueless with your directions that you need to use the CN Tower as your compass?

Use the sun.
Mason replying to a comment from machinegunner / April 29, 2011 at 11:17 am
Post more useless comments to make a bigger waste of yours and everyones time.
BigHands / April 29, 2011 at 11:19 am
I feel naked
smrt replying to a comment from Mason / April 29, 2011 at 11:26 am
A useless reply to a post complaining about useless posts.
How brilliant.
alan / April 29, 2011 at 11:54 am
i use the cn tower as a direction beacon and have for many years...and know others who do's always in the same place, the sun moves...

the skyline of toronto without the cn tower is like new york without the world trade centre...
seriously? replying to a comment from alan / April 29, 2011 at 12:00 pm
Of course the sun moves. from east to west.
Use it as a guide.

Cstars replying to a comment from seriously? / April 29, 2011 at 12:03 pm
Yeah, that works really well at night or on cloudy days.
scoooooootr replying to a comment from smrt / April 29, 2011 at 12:04 pm
so meta
Bonk / April 29, 2011 at 12:04 pm
We lucked out getting such an iconic structure added to our skyline back in the 70's, as anyone can immediately attest by how gaping and void it looks without it. My sole problem with the tower is its placement. It was built too close to the waterfront in relation to the core, so unless you view the skyline from Cherry St. for equal balance in distance, it tends to dwarf the rest of downtown and makes our skyline look like piddly little Vancouver or something.
smrt replying to a comment from scoooooootr / April 29, 2011 at 12:11 pm
You're in a city.
Not Algonquin Park.

If anyone needs to use the CN Tower as a way to traverse this simple city with its grid like pattern, then god help them.

I could spin around on a baseball bat 100 times and (after vomiting) still know exactly where I was going.

This has to be the easiest major city to travel.
David Davidson replying to a comment from qwerty / April 29, 2011 at 12:29 pm
Fitting for a generic city such as Toronto.
acertainromance / April 29, 2011 at 12:37 pm
pat / April 29, 2011 at 12:40 pm
It does add dimension. When building a still life scene to photograph, I'm always conscious of the need for something with height to make a more dynamic shape of the scene than... flat and squat. The CN tower does that for our skyline. It instantly makes a triangle of the scene, rather than a squat box with acres of sky above it.
warmflash / April 29, 2011 at 12:44 pm
I like better with out the CN Tower. It's an ugly ass building. A strange throwback to the worst of the 1960's.
o.k. / April 29, 2011 at 01:54 pm
Wow the skyline looks like shit minus the CN. Toronto skyscrapers are mostly crap, the CN tower does a good job dwarfing them and making them less significant.
Jen / April 29, 2011 at 02:03 pm
Sean / April 29, 2011 at 02:40 pm
I wonder what people that grew up without the CN Tower would think of these photos.
Sean replying to a comment from Sean / April 29, 2011 at 02:41 pm
*people from Toronto I mean
Tom / April 29, 2011 at 03:33 pm
I kind of like it in a way. Less phallic. I do like the CN Tower though.
andrew / April 29, 2011 at 06:55 pm
I say, build another tower...
davebeet replying to a comment from seriously? / April 29, 2011 at 08:08 pm
ok, that's enough. everyone now knows how brilliant, cynical and awesome you are.
fee / April 29, 2011 at 11:00 pm
The CN Tower is the very definition of Toronto's skyline. Who cares that it may dominate it. It doesn't mean nobody appreciates the other tall buildings. It's awesome and we're lucky to have it. Period.
oh god / April 30, 2011 at 02:23 pm
I would get lost in the city, not knowing which way south is.
accozzaglia / May 2, 2011 at 04:02 pm
This is how Montréal feels.
seanm / May 2, 2011 at 07:50 pm
Though not the sentiment here, aside from the CN Tower Toronto has some great skyscrapers, and its skyline is still better than most North American cities. Though I can see how a lot of people don't care for our collection of Modernist and International towers, it'd be a shame to lose them. FCP was an icon in itself when built, and should look pretty fantastic with its recladding. TD Centre, Commerce Court, Scotia Plaza, and Royal Bank Plaza are all fantastic complexes too.
seanm / May 2, 2011 at 07:51 pm
*A shame not to have them in the first place, rather than lose them; they're not going anywhere in our lifetimes.
Other Cities: Montreal