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Toronto

The top 10 Toronto landmarks

Posted by Rick McGinnis / September 26, 2010

Top 10 Toronto LandmarksA list of the top ten Toronto landmarks could either elicit grudging but respectful agreement from fellow citizens, or ignite vicious arguments that quickly advance to accusations of Nazism or threats to set your house on fire and extinguish your genetic line. It's in this spirit that I've written three lists that, despite the advice of architectural experts and enthusiasts, are still utterly subjective, and likely to lead to both considered nods of approval and libelous death threats.

Calling a building a landmark is a lot different than appraising its quality; a landmark can be either lovely or appalling, but its importance is difficult to dispute. It was either built or evolved to fulfill a function, defining some essential aspect of the city, providing geographical guidance, or evoking some crucial stage in the city's history. Lists of best and worst buildings will follow shortly, but the 10 entries below are, to my mind and those of our contributors, crucial to the Toronto we know and love, and would measurably diminish the city if they were to vanish somehow

CN Tower1. CN Tower - You could try to be coy and demote it lower on this list, or pretend to be cool and ignore it altogether, but the fact remains that this freestanding relic of pre-digital telecommunications is the gargantuan souvenir pen than anchors Toronto to the Lake Ontario shoreline like a straight pin through a butterfly.

You can be an engaged, proud, fully-fledged citizen and never ascend to its observation deck, but chances are if you've lived or worked downtown you've used it to orient yourself, or shrugged and sent visiting friends or relatives there as part of their sight-seeing itinerary. Even before it provided the title to a pretty good punk rock song, its name had become a self-contained entity, and by now there's at least a generation that's grown up in its shadow that probably can't tell you what the "CN" stands for. For those of us with memories of its epic construction, there's something jarring about getting an up-close view of the patchwork stains on its concrete and our memories of it when it was new, gleaming with the dull white glow of a slightly qualified future.

If you're a pessimist, you might even go so far as to regard the tawdry little diorama at its base as being too quintessentially Canadian - a banal interlock patio with picnic tables and a garden gazebo and cutesy flowerbeds celebrating provincial tourist destinations. Maybe I'm being overdramatic, but to my mind a structure this audacious deserves something better, like a vast flaming moat.

Under the Gardiner Expressway2. The Gardiner Expressway - The longstanding urban pipe dream of tearing down or burying the Gardiner seems to be dying a slow, hard death, but it seems like Toronto is finally making its peace with the concrete and asphalt ribbon that was punched through its lakeshore back when cars had tailfins and rock and roll had ducktails. Architect Graeme Stewart, author of Concrete Toronto: A Guide to Concrete Architecture From The Fifties To The Seventies, calls it "a heroic mid-century construction that defines the experience of entry into Toronto - the platform for the most spectacular views."

Stewart is a fan, not just an apologist, and points out hopefully that "our relationship to it continues to evolve - the winning design for the Fort York Museum showing how the spaces underneath create beautiful urban rooms." With time, it's become obvious that a curtain of condos have done more to cut us off from our lakeshore than the Gardiner's forest of columns, and that reclaiming the DMZ under the roadway is potentially more creative and rewarding than tearing it down. Reconnecting the western beaches where the Gardiner runs at ground level, however, will be a much bigger challenge.

Robarts Library, U of T3. Robarts Library - They called it "brutalism" for a reason, but this U of T landmark has weathered far better than most other examples of this '70s architectural genre. Shawn Micallef, Spacing editor, eye weekly columnist and author of Stroll: Psychogeographic Walking Tours of Toronto, is forthright in his affection for "Fort Book."

"I genuinely love this building," Micallef writes, "and not because I get a kick out of the near-violent reactions some people have to it. It's everything you want in a library: solid, safe, lots of passages and nooks to hide in and read. Separation from the outside is also important - almost like going on a book vacation, where the troubles of regular life are left on the sidewalk. On all the floors there are surprising windows looking out over Toronto from various angles, and equally surprising atriums on the higher floors. I'm not sure what the haters are angry about as the details are done right too: smooth wood and sculptural concrete."

"If this was nature, it would be a world-wonder and we'd all want to hike there, but since people made it, somehow it's bad. One of the best libraries I've been in. Perhaps outside could use some more activity and animation, but a library is not a store, arcade or tavern - the approach of a building like this is as important. I wonder if those haters aren't just a tad over sensitive to things."

Micallef's enthusiasm had me re-examining my own feelings for Robarts, but it was while walking around it with my camera that I was forced to admit that, in at least one way, it has something essential to great architecture - no matter where you point your lens, you can't take a bad picture of the damn thing.

Bloor Viaduct4. The Bloor Viaduct - It isn't the only bridge over the Don River, but it's the most iconic - the physical symbol of the connection between the city's eastern and western halves, which are divided by the Don more firmly than Yonge Street. If you believe that Toronto has a split personality parsed neatly on either side of that river - and I do - then you know how crossing this bridge is a palpable journey from one to the other.

Besides being a setting for one of the most famous and unreadable novels about the city, it's also a fantastic symbol for the city's past and present. Finished in the final months of WW1, it was built with a lower deck meant to accommodate the subway that wouldn't cross it until 1966 - foresight and ambition that seems to have been lost today. With the recent completion of the suicide-thwarting "Luminous Veil," the bridge became a symbol of a more anxious city, willing to sacrifice unimpeded views in the name of diminished risk.

1 Spadina Crescent5. Knox College (1 Spadina Crescent) - There's another building on the U of T campus with this name, but the original sits athwart Spadina north of College in all its slightly decrepit Victorian haunted house glory. Queen's Park and Old City Hall do the same thing to University Avenue and Bay Street, but Graeme Stewart calls it "one of best examples of the tradition in Toronto where a major institution terminates the north end of an avenue. Spadina's Knox College is the most vibrant and urban of these terminating vistas."

Since the Presbyterian Church moved to newer digs, it's been a veteran's hospital where Amelia Earhart was a nurse, a medical research lab, and the site of an unsolved murder and a recent ghost-hunting death. For years it was inaccessible to pedestrians unless you made an illegal crossing, one eye watching for a streetcar hurtling around the shoreline of this Gothic revival island.

TTC sign6. TTC signs - In the opinion of self-styled "meta-preservationist urban gadfly" Adam Sobolak, a landmark doesn't need to be a building, so he nominates the TTC's distinctive "ribbon and shield" logo: "Other than London Transport, I don't know of any other major comprehensive municipal transportation network that is so defined by its unique symbolic identity; and one which in its turn so indelibly defines one's experience of the city."

"While not as self-consciously 'modern' as other identities (London's pioneering efforts not excluded), it also transcends any inherent and equally self-conscious 'retro' qualities - as such, it may be the timeless ultimate in transit identities, anywhere. Wherever you go, encountering a TTC logo (on a t-shirt or wherever) point-blank exclaims, 'Toronto' - and more viscerally than your usual postcard New City Halls or CN Towers." Given the TTC's much-diminished reputation, it seems like its visual branding is the one thing it hasn't screwed up, though it's tempting to imagine how much it could be improved by contracting out its souvenir business to, say, Red Canoe.

Maple Leaf Gardens7. Maple Leaf Gardens - Even in the long intermission to its post-Leafs glory days, Shawn Micallef considers the Carlton St. hockey palace, currently undergoing major renovations, a cultural and civic monument. "Admittedly being an arena, it didn't do much for the sidewalks surrounding it (though that's being changed with its new uses), but we had an arena right in the middle of a residential and commercial neighbourhood, and it worked just fine for decades."

"It's subtle Art Deco flourishes are quite lovely and I hope they leave the long marquee along Carlton Street intact as it's the best and most explicit historic plaque in the country. What a font. Though it's big, because of its urban location, it doesn't seem big enough to hold the capacity it does inside. It's such an efficient use of space. And apologies to Montreal, but on Saturday nights for so many years, this was the centre of Canada."

Honest Ed's8. Honest Ed's - The essence of colloquial architecture, if you'll pardon my Latin, this Bloor St. bargain emporium is more sign than structure, though the current version is far more polished and unified than any time in its raucous, garish past. It's the point where Toronto is nearest to Vegas though, tellingly, it's an institution devoted to thrift, not risk.

"An undeniable landmark of the undeniably vibrant Annex and Koreatown," writes Graeme Stewart. "It is one of those icons and institutions that once you've experienced it, you'll never forget, and is representative of many layers of Toronto's history. We look forward with interest to see how it will evolve."

Palace Pier9. Palace Pier - The twin towers of Toronto, although their '70s luxury condo heritage is more likely to evoke turtlenecks and key parties than financial giants astride the city. In an age before amalgamation, they were the signpost for the city's westernmost border, and the gateway to Etobicoke, the eternal garden suburb. "At the mouth of the Humber River," writes Shawn Micallef, "these two (originally just one tower) are the markers for people entering and leaving the city."

"For many years they stood alone above Etobicoke's lowrise skyline, but now with the addition of new condo towers where the old Motel Strip was, we've got an almost Chicagoan 'Gold Coast' city-scape out here. Unlike that famed highrise neighbourhood along Lake Michigan, it isn't separated from the water by wide Lake Shore Drive as our Lake Shore Blvd is on the city-side. The Palace Pier towers, with their smoky disco-era glass still are the tallest around and are the ones who decide when we're in and out."

Pumping Station T, Ashbridges Bay10. Ashbridge's Bay Pumping Station T - Like a Martello tower in a Jetson's landscape, this drum-like utility building has style to spare, and has long been a favourite of photographers. Fans will be outraged to discover that its crenellated roofline is being altered as part of a city project to upgrade this east end sewage treatment facility and remediate the lingering odours for which it's long been notorious.

Here's hoping that the finished result won't diminish its fabulous midcentury modern lines, a legacy of the last time when form clearly outshone function in civic architecture. There are many who wish that a building this fabulous did more than pump sewage, and Shawn Micallef says he's fond of misinforming visitors to the city that Pumping Station T is actually the city's nonexistent mayor's residence, and it is - in an alternate timeline when this would actually have been a stunning counterpart to Viljo Revell's New City Hall.

Discussion

78 Comments

Cheryl / September 26, 2010 at 10:46 am
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I would replace #9 with City Hall and Nathan Philips Square. I define a landmark as an iconic piece of architecture (or signage for that matter, how i miss the Sam the Record Man sign) that instantly places you in a geographic location. A high rise condo, regardless of its origins doesn't fit that bill. City Hall, on the other hand, is a globally recognized example of contemporary design.
TG / September 26, 2010 at 11:00 am
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"A high rise condo, regardless of its origins doesn't fit that bill. City Hall, on the other hand, is a globally recognized example of contemporary design."

I completely agree. Also, I've heard there's a gigantic castle near spadina/davenport that might notable...
Alan / September 26, 2010 at 11:04 am
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i agree with cheryl...where is city hall both old and new and of course nathan philips square?
Alan / September 26, 2010 at 11:04 am
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by the way...some excellant photos here...
Andy / September 26, 2010 at 11:11 am
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I'd have added the streetcars instead of the TTC logo. Our red and white fleet is iconic.
katt / September 26, 2010 at 11:14 am
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I would replace Robarts with the ROM
CS / September 26, 2010 at 11:20 am
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Serious question, was the writer high when he wrote this? Either that or he intentionally came up with the most ridiculous list he could imagine to troll the readers.
OK / September 26, 2010 at 11:20 am
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Love every single choice! True landmarks through the eyes of all who live here.
Kenjy / September 26, 2010 at 11:25 am
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3, 5, and 9 should be replaced (in no particular order) with City Hall/Nathan Phillips Square, Casa Loma, and the RC Harris Filtration Plant.

There are so many factors that determine a landmark site: architecture, age (new + old), tourism, etc. But most important of all, is the emotional attachment. If the CN Tower were to topple, you can bet all of Toronto would a well, that said, Casa Loma vs Palace Pier? Exactly.
Warren / September 26, 2010 at 11:50 am
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It's probably not a landmark if someone who grew up in Toronto has never seen it.

I'm looking at you, Ashbridge Bay pumping station.

And, as everyone else is saying, how can you not have City Hall / Nathan Philips Square? That shit was on STAR TREK.
John / September 26, 2010 at 11:50 am
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In the Skin of a Lion unreadable??? Tells me all I need to know about this list
Daniel / September 26, 2010 at 11:58 am
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How bout the skydome? But I guess that goes hand in hand with the CN tower.
Skot Nelson / September 26, 2010 at 12:01 pm
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Knox College and not Unversity College (or even Hart House?)

University College predates confederation. I rather enjoyed studying the Canadian Constitution in a building where such a thing hadn't yet been imagined.

Robarts should definitely be on the list.
Jacob / September 26, 2010 at 12:02 pm
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<b>299 Queen Street West</b> (formerly known as the ChumCity Building) should definitely be on that list. Under Moses Znaimer's guidance, the building itself became as important to the television channels it housed as the actual people who appeared on the screen. When people think of Citytv, they still think of that building. It's been known all across Canada as the home of MuchMusic for at least two generations.

It's more than just a building. I can't think of <i>any other</i> media headquarters, which are usually faceless buildings on the outskirts of cities, that have that much of an active identity.
cheese / September 26, 2010 at 12:12 pm
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Casa Loma?
CS / September 26, 2010 at 12:14 pm
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The writer is obviously a TROLL. Don't feed him.
Jacob / September 26, 2010 at 12:40 pm
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Here's my supplementary list to the top ten:

1) City Hall. Before the CN Tower, this was THE landmark of Toronto. It's still prominently displayed in the city's corporate branding.

2) The Royal York. Before City Hall, <i>this</i> was THE landmark of Toronto.

3) Rogers Centre. Something that big and in-your-face has to be a landmark.

4) Ontario Place. Neglected as it is, the Cinepshere is forever engrained in our vision of the waterfront, and the pod structures next to it nearly as iconic.

5) The Princes' Gates. Often forgotten, the beautiful entrance to the CNE.

6) The Eaton Centre. Pioneering mega-mall, still one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city.

7) 299 Queen Street West. The television building that redefined the role of the building itself.

8) OCAD's Sharpe Centre for Design. Controversially redefining a 100+ year old art institution... years before the ROM controversially did it. Also, vastly more practical, unique, and less hated.

9) Fort York. What Toronto sprung from.

10) St. Lawrence Market.
halfmydadsage / September 26, 2010 at 12:53 pm
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10. Dupont Station Dome
9. Mount Pleasant Cemetery
8. High Park
7. Eaton Centre
6. Town Hall
5. Ontario Place and Exhibition grounds
4. St Lawrence Market and Flat Iron building
3. Beaches/Bluffs/Leslie Spit
2. Streetcars
1. CN Tower with Skydome

(my choices)
adam / September 26, 2010 at 12:58 pm
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bizarre
W. K. Lis / September 26, 2010 at 01:16 pm
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Ask the mayoralty candidates for their list.
Philip Johnson / September 26, 2010 at 01:20 pm
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My list of 10 most best architecture landmarkings:

10. Terroni
9. Pong's Convenient Store
8. Annex Billiards
7. Hudson Bay Corporation
6. Dangerous Dan's
5. The J.C.C.
4. Parts & Labour
3. Joe Rockheads
2. High Park
1. Dundas Square
Derek / September 26, 2010 at 01:39 pm
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In case you're wondering about the useless map at the bottom of the post, we're working on getting it fixed. Thanks!
rick mcginnis / September 26, 2010 at 01:48 pm
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I should have guessed that prefacing all of this with "this is a subjective list that you'll all argue about" would have been largely pointless, but there you go - an eternal optimist, me. In any case, anyone wondering about why their favorite buildings are missing should wait for the "best" and "worst" lists later this week.
pdalep / September 26, 2010 at 01:54 pm
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I say all the beautiful townhouses on sudbury. Quality of the build is absolutely beautiful. Same with Joe Shuster way & East Liberty . We need more of this beauty and attention to detail.
Joe Scratch / September 26, 2010 at 02:38 pm
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Mayoral candidates favorite Toronto landmarks:

Rob Ford - Tiny Tom's Doughnuts at the CNE
George Smitherman - The Stables on Church St
Joe Pantalone - Cafe Diplomatico on College
Rocco Rossi - The Allen Expressway
Sarah Thomson - The Bata Shoe Museum
Jeff / September 26, 2010 at 02:52 pm
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Wow, BlogTO knocks another one out of the park. (Sarcasm). What a completely useless list this is. But hey, at least you're "indie" and "hip" and didn't make the obvious (and far superior) choices. I feel like I'm reading Vice Magazine here.
Alex / September 26, 2010 at 02:58 pm
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Please explain to me how the CN Tower is a " relic of pre-digital telecommunications", considering that it can just as easily transmit useful digital signals as any other.

If it's a relic of anything, it's of the hegemony of the railroad in Canada.
Greg / September 26, 2010 at 03:16 pm
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Anyone who suggests the new ROM is either

A) Stupid or
B) Very Stupid
Dan / September 26, 2010 at 03:18 pm
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Dreadful selections! You can do better blogto!
r. / September 26, 2010 at 03:25 pm
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athwart! awesome. mr. mcginnis, don't let the fuckers get you down.
Adam Sobolak / September 26, 2010 at 03:31 pm
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"I'd have added the streetcars instead of the TTC logo. Our red and white fleet is iconic."

===============

Such an argument would be more in generic terms; after all, the form said streetcars has taken has changed over time, and I don't know of many (at least, of a certain age) who'd rank the present Yacht Rock-era UTDC hulks over the PCC streamliners that preceded them. Whereas the TTC ribbon-and-shield is eternal. (Though generically embracing the streetcar *does* make an effective take-that gesture to Rob Ford, presently, I presume.)
yo guy / September 26, 2010 at 03:40 pm
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The Toronto Islands. Everyone always forgets the islands.
Dan / September 26, 2010 at 04:14 pm
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The preface of this post is extremely sad, even telling of how the readers feel about the content of the site in general if all posts need to be prefaced with something asking to not criticize the article.

I agree with everything on the list minus the condos and ashbridges bay pumping station.

Things that should have been on the list (also I think limiting the list to top ten or ANY number is pointless, it should just be a list of all toronto landmarks that are considered essential to our identity).

ROM
UC
AGO
City TV
Royal York
City Hall
Princess Gates
Ontario Place
distillery district
Annex houses
Cabbagetown houses
mt pleasant cemetary
The Bay
SkyDome
Island cottages
Casa Loma
High Park and Trinity Bellwoods
Elgin Theatre
TD Centre
Union Station


All of the above could replace anything on the current list without many people making a fuss (except the CN tower, obviously that's number 1)
Dan / September 26, 2010 at 04:14 pm
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oh ya
St Lawrence Market and Flat Iron building
definately that one too
bob / September 26, 2010 at 05:12 pm
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I'm shocked, no New or Old City Hall, no Eatons Centre, Ontario Place, St Lawrence Market (or hall), Flatiron building, ACC, ROM, AGO, Harbourfront (or ferries), Queen's Park, OCAD, UofT, University Avenue memorials, Four Seasons Centre, the Bay Queen St.... a lot of these on the list have little recognition to any else but Torontonians.
Keith / September 26, 2010 at 05:28 pm
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This list is absolutely artificial, bogus and pointless. Commenters, in fact, did a much better job choosing top ten.

1. OK, this is the only item I agree with.

2. "The Gardiner Expressway". I wonder if author included this to appear original, or just to check if his readers are awake. Gardiner looks like many other expressways in many other North American cities. And also, as first paragraph says the goal of the author was to show "...contributors, crucial to the Toronto we know and love, and would measurably diminish the city if they were to vanish somehow", I REALLY doubt Toronto would be "diminished" if this piece of concrete somehow disappeared. And please find 10 people who think otherwise.

3. "Robarts Library". Show this picture to 100 people, and 99 of them will have no idea what it is (and the remaining one will know, only because he or she was a UofT graduate). Architecturally interesting building? Probably, for certain taste. A landmark? Definitely not.

4. "The Bloor Viaduct". Hmm... Why? What makes this bridge so interesting? What makes it more interesting, then (say) hanging bridge on Harbourfront, or a Queen st. bridge on same Don River valley?

5. "Knox College". I agree that UofT must be on list of top ten, but if I selected ONE building, it had to be Hart House. Everyone knows it, it trully has a unique shape, and it is the percieved face of UofT. So author is trying to be artificially original again.

6. "TTC signs". Oh yea, those are "crucial to the Toronto we know and love", and Toronto would "diminish" without them. We should all prohibit the TTC to change the design ever again.

7. "Maple Leaf Gardens". This is historically significant building, but not a landmark. Clearly author doesn't understand the difference.

8. "Honest Ed's" has it's place in list of landmarks, but not in top ten. Seriously: do you think Honest Ed's is one of top ten places people would know Toronto for???

9. "Palace Pier" is same as number 2: nothing original about it. Show this picture to people in Vancouver, and they will think it's there. Show it to people in Chicago, and they will remember some buildings that look like that. So - not a landmark.

10. "Ashbridge's Bay Pumping Station" I just don't understand how out of hundreds building barely known one comes to tenth place? Only by authors "I'm so original" mantra.
Smithermanblows / September 26, 2010 at 06:52 pm
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What a crappy list. No Jillys or The Brass Rail!!!
Paul / September 26, 2010 at 07:27 pm
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So City Hall, Rogers Centre, Casa Nova, the ACC, the Princess Gates, etc. don't make the list, but Palace Pier does? And Knox College? I've lived nearby Knox College and today is the first time I've heard its name or about what it is...
Peter / September 26, 2010 at 08:08 pm
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I think the author of this article lives in the 905.
JB / September 26, 2010 at 08:53 pm
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I question choosing #10 over the R. C. Harris Water Treatment Plant.

One is barely known outside the beach, the other is the setting for one of the best books by one of Canada's most famous authors.

I think that verifies the landmark status of the Harris Plant over the pumping station.
rick mcginnis replying to a comment from Peter / September 26, 2010 at 09:10 pm
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Wow, do you ever have that wrong.
Matt replying to a comment from Greg / September 26, 2010 at 09:15 pm
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I'll submit the ROM. You don't have to like it for it to be a landmark.

I'll also take issue with the first commenter who suggests that a high-rise condo can't be a landmark. I'm sure we could look at cities around the world and find examples of iconic residential structures. (I would, however, dispute that these particular condos on this list are iconic.)

299 Queen West is definitely iconic for those of us young enough to have grown up with MuchMusic. Which is probably most people reading this.
huh? / September 26, 2010 at 09:42 pm
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That's a really great list of ugly, and quite pathetic actually. hahah

And I'm going to say something pretty crazy now...

Toronto City Hall sux. There, I said it.
Adam Sobolak / September 26, 2010 at 10:19 pm
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I must also emphasize that I was thinking in more general terms of the TTC logo--not just on signs, but on anything TTC-related. (Indeed, the signs illustrated aren't even the best examples of "TTC subway signs"--but I don't want to go into a long and windy Joe Clark-ish extrapolation as to why, right now.)
Ralph Evans / September 26, 2010 at 10:37 pm
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How about adding the TD Centre to this list?

Toronto's first tall office tower from about 1965?

Or how about the "Financial District"

Or "The towers of King and Bay"?

Or the "Path Network" - an interconnected series of underground shopping malls below the downtown buildings.
JJ / September 26, 2010 at 10:40 pm
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I think they should be VOTED on and that Kensington Market, Casa Loma, and Nathan Philips Square should be on it. woot.
fotog / September 26, 2010 at 11:41 pm
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Who took all the photos? They're uncredited. If they're from the pool they should be attributed.

rick mcginnis replying to a comment from fotog / September 26, 2010 at 11:56 pm
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I took them. If you don't see a photo credit, it's because the writer took the shots.
Mark / September 27, 2010 at 12:24 am
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With a list like this no wonder we're losing visitors to the city!

Palace Pier - are you f@#king serious!!
G / September 27, 2010 at 12:24 am
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I like this list. I can see where the writer is coming from.
fotog replying to a comment from rick mcginnis / September 27, 2010 at 01:08 am
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thanks rick, nice variety of shots ! Back to your regularly scheduled flame war..
poohead / September 27, 2010 at 04:25 am
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This list is pure crapola. Here's the real top ten:

1. Brass Rail
2. Zanzibar
3. For Your Eyes Only
4. Fillmore's
5. Waverly Hotel
6. Hooker Harveys at Gerrard and Jarvis
7. Hooters
8. Club Paradise
9. Jilly's
10. Crocodile Rock
rapi / September 27, 2010 at 06:59 am
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dan...thank you for the real list...please add OCAD, BCE place (the building formerly known as...no idea how it's called now, as toronto has a habit of CHANGING NAMES OF LANDMARKS...)the park on cumberland is really nice, st. lawrence market and queen's quay building...
TKSK / September 27, 2010 at 07:58 am
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Since when is "In the Skin of a Lion" unreadable?
sheesh... tough crowd.
Alex / September 27, 2010 at 09:09 am
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FYI, the Knox College thing was not a ghost hunting death. My buddy was not a ghosthunter - just an urban spelunker with spectacularly poor luck.

Otherwise, nice list.
Stefan / September 27, 2010 at 11:17 am
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Also, in addition to old Knox College, Trinity College is a pretty iconic building that evokes a pre-Confederation version of the city.
Dave / September 27, 2010 at 11:19 am
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I'd argue the classic bike locks with the circle and peg. I see those in the background of movies or commercials and instantly know it's Toronto. Consider that land marked.
ChrisG / September 27, 2010 at 11:21 am
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Well, the list is provocative and the comments prove how many landmarks Toronto actually has. Let me add to the expanding list: Commerce Court (North), which was the tallest building in the Commonwealth for 30 years, and still a beautiful example of art deco architecture.
Joe Clark / September 27, 2010 at 02:05 pm
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I do not write “long and windy… extrapolations,” the latter of which is the wrong word anyway.
seanm / September 27, 2010 at 03:26 pm
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As you've all probably figured out by now, this is not the only list (and a few of your precious noted landmarks have been included; with yet another to go). All of these choices represent fantastic examples of (mostly) mid-century architecture. Typically though, there's a strong dislike for the concrete vernacular that truly defines this city.

We have some beautiful Victorian, and early 20th century landmarks, but it's really our prowess during the Brutalist and Modernist periods that define the city. The city's buildings from the 1950s through late 1970s need some better understanding and appreciation, lest we start making all the same preservation mistakes the city did during the mid-century.

Remember, Old City Hall was at one point threatened, and considered to be a dreary, tiresome and ugly structure.
Nick / September 27, 2010 at 05:25 pm
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Wow, so much hate! Note to writers: Never say "top 10 best" anything, say "10 amazing" something. All the haters will come out of the woodwork with their OWN way-better list, or a seething rebuttal on how awful your subjective opinion is compared to theirs.

I enjoyed the list, and the opinions. Maybe I disagreed with some choices and have thoughts of my own-- but isn't that always the case?? The ones you disagree with will be the ones that might help you learn something. That's how other perspectives work.

I don't understand the hate, seriously people, is this a Toronto thing? What's up with the attitude? Does everyone have to try to aggressively prove their worth at all times? How ridiculous these people are implying that such a top 10 list could even be conceived and agreed upon. Obviously not. You might as well argue over the most perfect pizza.

Don't let them get you down Rick!
mc / September 27, 2010 at 06:05 pm
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what about the Brickworks?
Adam Sobolak replying to a comment from Joe Clark / September 27, 2010 at 08:06 pm
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More that *I'd* be the long-and-windy one, not you.
poohead / September 27, 2010 at 11:08 pm
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the Zanzibar marquee is way more iconic than Honest Eds. Even if their peelers look hit in the face with a shovel. But who looks at faces anyway?
Jaime / September 28, 2010 at 02:48 pm
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I agree with your list. I especially agree with Palace Pier. When I was a child we lived in Brampton/Mississauga area. Whenever we would drive into the city, my first clue that we were getting close was when I would see the two buildings and I would get so excited. The next landmark I looked for was Roy Thompson Hall. Back in the '80s, you could see it coming into the city. Now with all the new condos and other buildings this isn't possible.
I've read a lot of disagreements on the comment board. It's too bad that you didn't make this a two- or three-parter, because to reduce the list of notable landmarks to just 10 is not enough.
emily / September 29, 2010 at 01:21 pm
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no idea why people here are against Palace Pier being on the list

i think they're an iconic symbol of toronto -- something as a kid to tell me 'we are almost there'
merry / September 18, 2013 at 07:24 pm
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i want more infoo!!!!!!!!!!!!
merry / September 18, 2013 at 07:25 pm
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i want to noe moreee where can i find a website that will tell me all the land marks
merry / September 18, 2013 at 07:26 pm
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i want to noe more
merry / September 18, 2013 at 07:27 pm
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my teacher is cray
Stanley Summerhill Francis / March 4, 2014 at 10:43 pm
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OSSINGTON tho
Beard & Ponytail / March 4, 2014 at 10:44 pm
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^^TRUTH^^

na na na naaa
North Country Boy / March 4, 2014 at 10:47 pm
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MASONIC TEMPLE!
Thomas / March 4, 2014 at 10:55 pm
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Wow. I've lived in toronto for two years and know less than half of these. BlogTO really let me down here. Poor editorial decision.
Bandi / March 4, 2014 at 10:57 pm
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Honest Ed's isn't a landmark, it's a disorganized, unclean, confusing dollar store... but whoever had the price gun forgot it was a dollar store. Sorry, but I can't wait to see that dump made into matchsticks. And no, I'm not the "Let's build more condos" type- I thought that store was a dump when I went there in 1993 as a 10 year old as well.
Canaduh / March 4, 2014 at 11:49 pm
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This list just proves why Canada is way down on the list of most visited countries on earth. More people go to Saudi Arabia and Ukraine each year than Canaduh. This is a fact!
G.s. / March 5, 2014 at 08:54 am
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Other than London Transport, I don't know of any other major comprehensive municipal transportation network that is so defined by its unique symbolic identity; and one which in its turn so indelibly defines one's experience of the city."??????? Really have you never been to Paris? Or NYC?
CB / March 5, 2014 at 08:23 pm
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Appreciative that the author replies to the comments. While I agree this article is a pretty weak list of Toronto Land Marks. I mean Subway signs? How is that more iconic than the Street Cars? I suppose that's your general "I need to mention the ttc in here somewhere" thing. I'm pretty sure the London Underground symbol is way more famous than the TTC Subway Signs.

Also totally blanked as to why City Hall isn't on here. Was it because it was built in the 60's instead of the 70's?

Lastly, to save you having to preface articles on BlogTO with "this is an arbitrary list", why don't you suggest to management that the idea of "we know what's best" in the city is an image you want to change. Just because the rest of the drivel on this site uses some convention, doesn't mean you have to be a part of the herd. Branch out, give us some fresh content and writing and break the streak of endless useless articles.

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