Toronto Skyline

How does Toronto's skyline stack up?

There's little doubt that Toronto has developed a decent skyline over the years — especially post-1976 when a certain futuristic-looking tower was completed — but how does it stack up against other major cities around the world? A question destined to return subjective (and biased) answers if there ever was one, this being the internet age and all, you just know there's gotta be a few lists out there. Sure enough, a friend of mine recently sent me a link to a list that claims to be the most authoritative out there. Shamefully curious, I couldn't help but take a quick look.

What I found was a website run by someone who shares a lot in common with a local wannabe celebrity who I refuse to name. More to the point, the author's criteria, while extensive, takes into account too many factors that verge on the utterly subjective (e.g. "uniqueness"). But as happens with these sort of things, I was intrigued. It may not matter much in the grand scheme of things, but for urban architecture geeks, this sort of stuff is quite seductive.

world skyline rankings

So I followed the Google rabbit hole on a search for other, potentially more credible skyline rankings. There are a few candidates out there, the most popular of which seem to be Egbert Gramsbergen and Paul Kazmierczak's The World's Best Skylines (see above) and Emporius's Skyline Rankings page, both of which put Toronto in and around the top 15 (at 16th and 13th, respectively). I'm not sure if that should be a surprise based on our relative size and population, but for whatever reason I would have thought we'd rank lower.

Toronto Skyline 1969

Perhaps this stems form the fact that I'm familiar with historical Toronto skyline photos that depict a city that looks more like sleepy Buffalo than the thriving metropolis the city is today, but I often think that our skyline is one-dimensional, limited to a cluster of buildings around the Financial District. It does, of course depend on the angle from which it's viewed (something that the rankings don't seem to take into account), but even from perspectives that reveal greater density, the concentration of similar-looking condos (and the degree to which our historical buildings are obscured) always leaves me feeling ambivalent.

Toronto skylines

Maybe that's why rankings like the ones mentioned above are really only useful as the starting point of a conversation. There's too many variables that'd have to be taken into account to come up with something resembling a definitive list. So calling all world travellers and architecture junkies out there — how do you think Toronto stacks up when it comes to skylines?

See also:

Photos by Chewie2008~, screengrab of the top 25 from the Worl Skyscraper Rankings, Ellis Wiley (via the Toronto Archives), and steve colwill.

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