Of all the things I might have associated with Toronto, “cool street art” would not have made my list. However, when I visited last spring, I was delighted to find out that the city is actually brimming with it. As someone who has chased colorful street art from London to Oslo to Berlin, this facet of Toronto really delighted me – and I promptly set about documenting it.
The most obvious first stop? Graffiti Alley, whose name pretty much sums up what you can expect there. I loved this spot! There was so much to see here, and all of it vibrant. I also loved the people watching; I saw a girl taking what appeared to be senior photos and a group of guys filming a rap music video.
Fun fact: in middle school, my choir class took a trip to Toronto. I remember exactly four things about that trip: we stopped at Medieval Times on our way, we went to a gigantic shopping mall, we saw the Lion King, and we visited Chinatown. There, we stopped into a few stores, and I bought a miniature buddha statue. This time around, I didn’t spend much time in Chinatown – but I did walk through long enough to see a few additional examples of street art.
In downtown Toronto, in the streets near the Art Gallery of Ontario, I found yet more street art. What I liked about a lot of the pieces here was that they were simply in parking lots – nothing fancy or pretentious, just artists making use of whatever space they could find.
Another awesome art zone was Kensington Market, an eclectic neighborhood near Chinatown. This area, with all its art, restaurants, and hipsters, was super fun – there was just so much to look at everywhere you turned.
The Bottom Line: Toronto’s colorful, funky parts really took me by surprise. I expected a clean-cut, wholesome Canadian city – and while it’s certainly that, there are also plenty of grittier, more intriguing bits. I quite enjoyed it.