Toronto skyline’s ‘absolute
transformation’ captured by
two photos taken 13 years apart
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
“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
“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.