Toronto skyline’s ‘absolute transformation’ captured by two photos taken 13 years apart
National Post
Emily McWilliams, National Post Staff
17 January 2015

For Brooklyn-born Ken Greenberg, this heady era in Toronto is akin to a certain New York moment.

In New York City in the late 1920s, an explosion of people and skyscrapers, and especially the addition of iconic structures like the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building to the skyline, “drew people like magnets” from all over the world.

“People were exhilarated by the fact that we had the technology to build buildings like that, but then they came to symbolize a kind of excitement about the place,” said Mr. Greenberg, Toronto’s former director of design and architecture and the Toronto-based principal of Greenberg Consultants.

“We love the iconic Manhattan skyline, because what we’re really doing is associating that with what we know happens on the streets.’’

‘When you see the skyline on a clear night, especially from the air, you can believe this is the right time and the right place be alive’
If Torontonians have stopped noticing the cranes that have similarly transformed their skyline — and downtown itself — since the turn of the millennium, a recent Reddit post likely stopped them in their tracks.

It combined two Toronto skyline snapshots, in 2001 and 2014, and captured the quick change the city has undergone.

“The growth — the absolute transformation of the skyline before your very eyes from year to year, and decade to decade — is pretty powerful,” said Paul Bedford, a former chief planner for the City of Toronto.

“I think what draws people to a skyline is all the different shapes, the sizes, the colours, the buildings — how they all merge together into a representation of humanity.’’

Population growth, represented by the numerous condominiums now clustered along the waterfront, has had a dramatic impact on Toronto’s skyline. The downtown has added more than 300,000 new residents, making Toronto a global city, said Mr. Bedford.

“People want to live there, and they want to work there.  Not only from around the region, but people want to come here from around the world,” he said.

The city’s skyline had largely been defined for decades by the CN Tower, which once dominated nearly all by itself. Now, new office towers and particularly high-rise condominiums, such as the residences at the Ritz Carlton that carve into the sky at a staggering 209 metres, offer some competition — and perhaps even a little magic.

“It may be partly, even largely, an illusion, but when you see the skyline on a clear night, especially from the air, you can believe this is the right time and the right place be alive,” said Mark Kingwell, professor of philosophy at The University of Toronto.

Click to enlargen this graphic.

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