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Nathan Phillips Square

New city hall

Nathan Phillips Square is the official heart of the city. At the north end of the square is the new City Hall consisting of two curved towers surrounding a low saucer shaped building that houses the city council chamber. These buildings are a well known symbol of Toronto and have even appeared (briefly) in an episode of Star Trek!

On September 26, 1958, Finnish architect Viljo Revell's design for a new city hall was chosen from 420 submissions. Work began on November 7, 1961, with the official sod turning by Mayor Nathan Philips. The new building officially opened on September 13, 1965, by Governor-General Georges-Philias Vanier.

Old city hall
Old city hall.

To the east sits old City Hall, which was during the late 1960's threatened with demolition. Some people wanted this to be the site of the proposed Eaton Center! But in the early 1970's, the building was spruced up, and it now houses municipal courts.

Old city hall
The square in winter, with snow dusting the Henry Moore sculpture Three-Way Piece No. 2 (The Archer).

I went down by the Henry Moore, skated on in the square.
The moon above my shoulder and the ice was in my hair.
Alone but never lonely, that's how I like to be.
If I want to have fun like a rock and roll bum don't think the worst of me.

From "Down by the Henry Moore", by Murray McLauchlan. (Start of song)

Skating rink
Skating rink in winter at dusk.

The above photo was taken from the elevated walkway surrounding the square. Unfortunately, budget cuts have led to the closing of the walkway for much of the year. And recently, there's even been talk of removing the walkway completely to save money. This would be a shame since it offers such a great view of the square.

By the way, Nathan Phillips was mayor of Toronto from 1955 until the 1960's, serving for the second longest duration. Prior to his election as mayor, he served in city politics since the 1920's. The first Jewish mayor of Toronto, Phillips was a popular mayor known for promoting the new City Hall. The "mayor of all the people" died in 1976.