Celebrating 50 years of Toronto's ‘New City Hall’

Sunday, September 13 will mark the 50-year anniversary of the official opening of Toronto City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square. The day will be marked by live entertainment on the square and exhibits in the City Hall rotunda from noon to 5 p.m. The event, free and open to all, will go ahead rain or shine.

Talent on the main stage of Nathan Phillips Square will include the Jordan John Band and the Clamshell Quintet – a musical group consisting of four City councillors and a deputy city manager – and a performance by STOMP competition finalists, who will demonstrate their talents in many dance styles.

Also on the square, LEGO lovers of all ages are encouraged to work side-by-side with master builders to build a replica of City Hall and the surrounding city – an activity sponsored by LEGOLAND Discovery Centre.

The City Planning division, through its Planners in Public Spaces in partnership with Imagine My City, will showcase its virtual reality (VR) technology. Residents will be able to imagine a sustainable Toronto by using simple VR headsets. Participants will also be able to use their smart phones to experience virtual 3D views of Nathan Phillips Square.

Inside City Hall, exhibits will include photographs of the architectural models and drawings from the design competition that led to the creation of "new" City Hall, archival images that bring the viewer through the construction and opening of the landmark, and a display of original furnishings that were custom-designed for the building. Many of these exhibits will be on display in advance of the event. Installation dates are available at http://www.toronto.ca/cityhall50th.

OCAD University students will be on-site with two custom-made, interactive exhibits that will enable participants to experience a virtual timeline of the City's development from 1965 to present day, and learn the history and purpose of some of Toronto's landmarks.

In addition to attending the activities on Sunday, September 13, residents are invited to attend free lectures exploring how Toronto's City Hall came to be, and how it has shaped the city. The lectures will take place on September 10 and 24 at 7 p.m. in the City Hall council chamber.

The full schedule of events for the 50th anniversary celebration can be found at http://www.toronto.ca/cityhall50th.


  • In 1956, City Council adopted a resolution calling for "an open competition…for the design of a civic square and city hall" to replace Old City Hall.
  • In September 1957, the contest was initiated and 1,500 registration forms stating intent to enter the competition were received within the first two months.
  • The design proposed by Finnish architect Viljo Revell was chosen as the winning design after consideration of submissions from 42 countries.
  • Ground was broken for New City Hall on November 7, 1961. Mayor Nathan Phillips turned the first sod for the building and its surrounding square, which had already been named in his honour to recognize his tireless advocacy of the City Hall project.
  • On September 13, 1965, City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square officially opened.