Thursday Doors: Old City Hall

For this week’s version of Thursday Doors, I’m visiting Old City Hall in Toronto.

It is an imposing building across the street from the current City Hall in the heart of downtown.

February 2016 – photo taken on a snowy afternoon

The door I’m featuring actually belong to a side entrance I discovered by accident when I went exploring down an unfamiliar street.  What first caught my attention were the massive lights flanking the wooden doors.

I didn’t notice until much later, that the miniature columns *supporting* the arches tie into the massive columns of the main doors in front.

February 2016

The main front extrance of Old City Hall …

Old City Hall 2
November 2015

This formidable building was home to Toronto’s City Council from 1899 to 1966. There were initially plans to demolish the building during the planning for a shopping mall – the Toronto Eaton Centre – in the late 1960s.  The plan was abandoned because of a public outcry … one of the rare times it actually made a difference.

How could anyone seriously consider tearing down a beauty like this?!

October 2014

Old City Hall became a National Historic Site in 1989 and is currently used as the Ontario Court of Justice.

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.


  1. You have two city halls? Melbourne has twice the population and it’s only got one! 😉

    It doesn’t surprise me they wanted to tear it down. We saw the same madness happen here in the 60s and 70s. Most notably the beautiful old buildings that made way for the ugly blocks of the Gas & Fuel company in Melbourne. Which now, thankfully, have been demolished themselves so the city can once more see the beautiful Forum Theatre and St Paul’s Cathedral across the road.

    I honestly don’t understand what goes through someone’s head to think it’s okay to knock down something so beautiful to build a shopping centre. [shrugs despairingly]


  2. You scared me when I read about it being torn down! So many beautiful buildings fell in the wake of Urban Renewal. I’m glad you didn’t show the new city hall for I am certain I would not have liked it.

    On another note, a friend of mine whose husband is an avid cyclist, posted an article on Facebook that made me think of you. I’m sure you have had similar thoughts and conclusions but I wanted to share anyway.


    • The first big wave of Urban Renewal back in the 60s and 70s is to blame for much of the destruction of heritage buildings in North America. These are pieces of our history we will never get back 😦

      I enjoyed the cycling article. It is so true that when you’re cycling, you are at the mercy of so many factors … including your own energy levels that can peak and wane from day to day.
      … but it’s sound advice to be flexible no matter how you’re travelling. I fear sometimes we are so focused on getting to a destination, we miss much of the beautiful detail along the way.


  3. Such a gorgeous old building and did you hear it’s clock chime? Those doors look even more familiar with the recent Gomeshi trial passing through them on the news each nigh😱I know Trinity Church around the corner because if the incredible work it does with the homeless.


  4. Thank goodness this gorgeous bit of history was spared! The imposing doors are just right for the very imposing building itself! One of the things I love about where we live is that even though we have lots of name brand stores, they’re mostly in small, older buildings. The newer buildings all fit in well.



    • I’m always glad to hear about communities that get it right … preserve the past and integrate it with the new. I understand from a developers point of view, it is trickier and more expensive, but saving historical buildings is important. Any trip to Europe confirms that 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks goodness the “little people” fought the demolition! Your story shows that, when enough of us get together so we have a big voice, this kind of destruction can be stopped. A city just to the north of us just had a vote on whether to bulldoze some beautiful open space in order to construct a shopping mall. The results are too close to call right now (my fingers are crossed). Gosh knows I like to shop now and then, but do we REALLY need more stores at the expense of great beauty?


    • It seems that the rush for MORE! MORE! MORE! is everywhere.
      Over the past several years I’ve been watched so many green spaces get gobbled up by more spawling plazas and townhouses 😦


    • I’m told there are gargogles on the clock tower. The next time I’m downtown I’ll have to take a better look!
      I think that’s what I love so much about these old buildings … all the wonderful architectural detail that we don’t see in modern buildings.


  6. Great shots Joanne. I saw this building for the first time when we were there in December. With all the carvings and intricate little details I was totally blown away by this gem. Thankfully it was saved, along with Trinity Church just around the corner. t makes me so mad when think about it; I’d still love to go back and smack the greedy SOB’s who were pushing to tear these places down.


  7. Tear that building down to build a shopping mall – you seriously have to wonder what people ere thinking back then. Our downtown district was demolished in the 60s and the “new ideas” were never really built. To this day the leaders of our little town are trying to figure out how to revive interest in downtown. So sad. I’m glad you guys were successful in keeping this building. The doors are beautiful and the entrance facade is really impressive.


  8. Tear it down? This architectural wonder? I love all the small details you don’t notice till you stand back and look with ease and study them. I wonder at the blueprints. They must have been unbelievable. Fabulous tour, Joanne. Love all the pictures. Thanks so much for sharing with us. 😀


  9. That’s a gorgeous building, Joanne. Nice photos! I can’t imagine tearing it down for a mall and it’s a good thing that the community felt the same way. If you look around at new buildings these days – homes, malls, businesses, etc. – it seems that so many are generic and boring and without spirit. Or perhaps I am simply old and have come to realize the importance of that (antiques, architecture) which is not brand new?


    • I too sometimes wonder if I’m just getting old.
      I’ve also read that Old City Hall is actually leased to the province for its court and that lease expires in about 5 years. It won’t be renewed and they are looking at options for use of the building. Top of the list? … retail stores. That just kills the gravitas this building deserves.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I love the old City Hall building, especially the Gargoyles around the clock tower. I’m so glad it didn’t get torn down. Living in downtown Toronto it does make me a little sad the amount of old buildings and entire blocks with development application signs on the front of them. Getting knocked down for more condo’s. I’m not opposed completely to development but love cities where old and new are side by side and old is protected and restored. The facades could even be saved and incorporated into a new build and it would be better than them being completely demolished.


    • I agree with you completely. In places where it’s been done, it can be quite beautiful. Unfortunately, if developers can get away with not doing it, they won’t. I suspect it’s much more expensive to work around 😦


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