Rooftopping Toronto: Yonge and College, East and Up

I suppose you could say that I spend an inordinate amount of time on rooftops. My photography partner and I find ourselves way up there due to an odd compulsion, which allows us to take in some of the most impressive and unique vantage points of this beautiful city. One thinks 'Toronto skyline', and this incredibly generic image of the CN tower, with its short fat stadium friend beside it, comes to mind. But most roofs have at least four corners, and each one offers a vision which is decidedly not the generic, cliched view. The view from Carlton east of Yonge, for example, gives us the charm of distance, yet the intimacy of a proper downtown perspective.

Rooftops Toronto

The excitement of turning these mere spaces into places may not seem obvious at first, but when one considers the vast areas atop the structures they live, work and play in, I wonder why we do not, at least sometimes, extend these activities vertically. Safety issues are an obvious concern, but this is merely the structural byproduct of these places being predetermined as out of bounds; when these spaces are indeed used as places to spend free time (think gardens, rooftop patios), they take on an important significance as utilitarian space reinvented, or retrofitted.

Looking east especially, one notices how much more green the city becomes as it tapers off. I am reminded of an observation Sir Henry Pellatt (of Casa Loma fame) made when he would look down at Toronto from his turret. He found it incredibly beautiful that, from his vantage point, it seemed that all of the inhabitants of York (Toronto) still lived in a forest! It is these kinds of silly, yet oddly romantic ideas that flit by in your mind as you gaze down at Yonge street; the commotion of cars muted to a calming oceanic murmur.

Toronto Roofs

Another interesting feat achieved from this height is encountering the glass and metal giants of our city on a par; as much as I love gazing up at the central business districts' architectural grandeur from King street, I find it much too overwhelming. A certain clarity is achieved when you are able to cover it all entirely with your hand, or to stare at the fragmented reflections of the city below in an adjacent building.


The distance between College and King is not a great, but bearing witness to the gradual incline to the water's edge from a good height allows one to make sense of the great senselessness with which modern urban dwelling can bombard us. Perhaps it is time to regain the child-like joy of climbing things, and in doing so, see our city through a different lens.

Here are a few more snaps from this particular set of rooftops:

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