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Toronto’s Nathan Philips Square – Made Over

Nathan Phillips Square has been a part of Toronto’s soul for decades. In the late 1800’s the area that existed before the square was built started out as a poor immigrant neighbourhood in the late 1800’s and slowly developed into our first Chinatown. After WW2 the government decided us Torontonians needed a civic square with a nearby city hall and Chinatown was transformed into the square. 

You know the square. If you’re from Toronto that is. You’ve likely seen it in in films such as the Sentinel or Resident Evil. If you’re from Toronto you’ve probably gone ice-skating on the reflective pool in the winter time. You could argue that if Toronto had a Facebook page a picture Nathan Phillips Square with its new Toronto sign in front would be its profile picture. 

The peace garden, the elevated walkway, and the works of art are a crucial element of Toronto. Much of this is thanks to the Nathan Phillips Square Revitalization Project. It happened through a design competition where different architectural firms put bids on the project. In 2007 the team of PLANT Architect Inc. and Shore Tilbe Irwin had won. They were the best out of 48 local as well as international firms who bid for the project. So if you were wondering why it looks so great it’s because it was made by the best. Also it helps that the project’s final cost was $60 million dollars.  

The design was intended to be open. They wanted it to be an open community where people gathered together. They wanted it to be a theatre for the city. The 2-story restaurant is new. The patio dining is new. The pool was replaced with a better one. It’s the same pool that is converted into an ice rink in the winter. The garden, and most of the other attractions for your eyes are all new.  

There are various events held in Nathan Phillips Square. It almost feels alive. A little heart that’s always beating in Toronto. Concerts, candle light vigils, several holiday events, and so much more take place in Nathan Phillips Square. I’ve gone to several awesome pop-up shops here, and it’s definitely something to look out for. It’s a little hub for the art world as well. You can see several pieces on display here and there are many exhibits as well. The annual Nuit Blanche art festival is my favorite of them. Make sure to check out the annual New Year’s Eve Party don’t miss out on the Cavalcade of Lights festival lighting of their very own official Christmas tree.  

All in all the land that occupies the square has been the heart of Toronto for years. And in the past 50 years it’s only further solidified its role. If you are visiting you have to check it out. There’s a glass tourist kiosk where you can get all the information you need. If you are from Toronto, then you already know about the square. I would encourage you to keep up to date with what’s going on at Nathan Phillips Square and frequently check websites like Toronto eventful to see if there’s anything interesting. What’s important to know is that this didn’t happen overnight. It was a slow process. The square grew alongside the city. It became apart of who us Torontonians are.