How to Look at Toronto From Above

It’s not a vantage point many people are able to achieve in their lifetime. Not quite the view of an airplane, not as congested as the view from the street.

Looking down at the city from 80-stories up, on September 20, 2017. (Photo by: Lucan Coutts)


It is too easy to become swept up in the immediate vicinity on street level. Glancing side to side yearns the same results. Walls provide barriers, pedestrians block depth and the movement of traffic distracts the mind and eye from being able to fully see at all.


All this leads to the point that it is incredibly rare to experience what you are seeing.


As beautiful as seeing the skyline may be, or as vibrant and exciting the life and heartbeat of the city may be up close, they are not commonly experienced together. The skyline is as simple as seeing buildings of glass, concrete and stucco, clumped together to form an urban metropolis. It seems natural to see manmade structures accompanied by the sky above, water beside and trees to both the east and west, and that is all we see. And though the buildings appear to stand nearly touching, they are sometimes great distances apart, and house life.


Because when seeing the city from inside its heart, the heartbeat can be felt. It offers a contrasting yet complimentary perspective to the skyline view. One can take in the work and people inhabiting and working in the concrete and glass structures, although when surrounded by them it resembles an enclosed jungle, not being able to see multiple structures or some in their entirety.


This photo is of myself, on the corner of one of the tallest buildings in Toronto, straining to find a new perspective.


Yet, when looking at Toronto from above, perched at the top of 80-stories, standing on the edge of a straight drop, it’s impossible not to see the world unfolding around you in an unimaginable way.


Because the skyline takes form, albeit from a new perspective. The buildings are seen close to one another, made of concrete and glass, seemingly touching. But at the same time the never ceasing vibrancy of city life can still be heard and witnessed. People can be barely made out as more than figures but are still distinguishable shapes. Cars provide motion that trickles through the veins that are the streets. And the offices and condos are teeming with life, providing the heartbeat of the city.


Being so high up, detached yet encompassed in the world around is unlike any experience. Having Lake Ontario behind you as you gaze out forms a black abyss, swallowing all noise and light. Opposite of in front of you, with everlasting lights and noise. It situates you in your own world.


Because before that moment, it had been impossible to combine the two ways of experiencing Toronto.


From afar, appreciating the beauty of buildings protruding the sky, showcasing the engineering marvels of skyscrapers.


Or within, being limited to the confines of only what is immediately around.


Perched up high, between the view and the experience, was a way to truly experience this city.


To see the magnitude of the structures but be as wrapped up and invested as walking step after step.


And being so small in the photograph can serve as a reminder of just how small we are, when yearning to experience the world.