Jun082013

Downtown Toronto North to South part three

Toronto is a city of hospitals, hotels and skyscraper urban renewal in the downtown district north of the harbourfront. Cranes and condominiums fill the skyline.

These are simply images I saw in Toronto and not a guide to things a tourist should see. The subway ride  from the Bloor Yorkville luxury hotel area with Four Seasons, InterContinental Yorkville and Park Hyatt takes 20 minutes to zip through five or six stops to Union Station or the entertainment district.

Much of the modern downtown skyscraper area has been built up in the last 20 to 40 years. This was the industrial area filled with warehouses, shipping docks and slums of Toronto a century ago as you approached the Toronto harbourfront of Lake Ontario.

Today the high-rise hotels and condos,  restaurants, shops and historic churches comprise some of downtown Toronto’s most vibrant districts for residents and tourists.

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Sheraton Centre Toronto is typical of the downtown large brand hotels. Hilton is just out of the picture to the right. Osgoode Subway Station is located right by the hotel.

Toronto City Hall

Designed by Finnish architect Viljo Revell, the  Toronto City Hall opened in 1965 with a controversial futuristic design that still appears modern today.

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Toronto City Hall (Wikipedia link) seen from the north. The windows and central building are not visible from this angle. The East Tower (left tower in photo above) is 27 floors and the west tower is 20 floors.

The green podium roof is a striking contrast to the stark exterior of city hall.

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Green Podium Roof of Toronto City Hall (official site link) is elevated about 50 feet above street level. Hilton Toronto is seen in front of CN Tower in photo above.

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Toronto City Hall

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The Eye of the Toronto Government.

The Toronto City Hall complex has the appearance of an eye in aerial photos. The city council chamber is located in the center saucer. Apparently this piece of architecture has been used in several Star Trek episodes.

Architect Viljo Revell died in 1964, a year before the buildings were completed.

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Traditionalists might prefer the old Toronto city hall across the street.

Nathan Phillips Square in front of Toronto City hall is a cultural entertainment and gathering place in downtown Toronto. The reflecting pool in summer serves as an ice skating rink in winter.

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Nathan Phillips Square in front of Toronto City Hall. Sheraton Centre Toronto is across the street.

Queen Street

At this point my Toronto tour moves randomly east-west-south as I walked through different downtown areas on different days.

Queen Street offers clubs, restaurants and a variety of shops.

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The Rex, Toronto is a popular jazz blues bar, restaurant and hotel.

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Friendly Stranger Cannabis Culture Shop on Queen Street.

Entertainment District

The four block strip between Queen Street and King Street in downtown Toronto is the Entertainment District with theaters and clubs.

Royal Alexandra Theatre 1905-1907 is Beaux Arts style and provides a historical example of a lavish early 20th century performance theater.

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Roy Thomson Hall is a modern concert hall where the opening night party for the TBEX conference was held. One of the bands at our TBEX party played Bob Dylan followed by Bob Marley. My kind of musical night.

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Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto.

The Roy Thomson Hall is two blocks from the Metro Toronto Convention Centre where the TBEX 2013 conference was held (travel blog exchange May 31-June 2).

By nature I gravitate to water and much of my time was spent within sight of Lake Ontario.  Many of the most popular tourist sites, like St. Lawrence Market and the Distillery District to the east and CN Tower and Rogers Centre (aka SkyDome Stadium) to the west are along the harbourfront of Toronto.

Historic Fort York was about one mile west and unfortunately I was unable to reach that site during my stay.

I found the St. Lawrence Market District to be the happening place in town I most enjoyed for pubs and restaurants. This is where the Beer Academy is located, the microbrewery I wrote about in Beer Academy Toronto Memories.

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Mike’s Fish Market at St. Lawrence Market was selling these Nova Scotia lobsters for $4.99 each, not per pound.

Best deal I saw in Toronto!

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Rogers Centre was formerly called SkyDome and is located adjacent to CN Tower. Marriott’s Renaissance Toronto Downtown Hotel is attached to the other side of the park on Blue Jays Way.

InterContinental Toronto Centre is attached to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre by elevated walkways over the city’s Union Station railroad tracks. This hotel where I stayed three nights is less than ten minutes walk west to reach Rogers Centre and CN Tower, south to the harbourfront, north to Roy Thomson Hall and Royal Alexandra Theatre or a few minutes east to Union Station for trains.

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InterContinental Toronto Centre.

I’ll write a separate review of IC Centre Toronto and cover the waterfront sites of Toronto in a downtown east-west article.

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Break on Through to the Other Side.

This street artist painted the piece Friday, May 31 on a sweltering Toronto day. I watched him set up at 9am in front of the Convention Centre and this was the art piece he created by 4pm.

If anyone reading this knows the artist’s name, please leave a comment.

Toronto has some very cool and creative people.

 

Related Toronto Posts:

Downtown Toronto North to South part one (June 5)

Downtown Toronto North to South Part Two (June 7)

Beer Academy Toronto Memories (June 7)

Centre Island Toronto photo essay (June 4)

Toronto Islands Canoe Paddling Around Wildlife (June 3)

High in Toronto up the CN Tower (June 1)

Hiking Rouge Park on a sweltering day at TBEX Toronto (May 31)

Toronto Hotel Reviews

Radisson Admiral Toronto Harbourfront review (June 4)

InterContinental Yorkville Toronto hotel review (June 6)

 

Ric Garrido, writer and content owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.

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About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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