In one of the city’s stranger ordinances, Toronto’s buildings were once decreed to have a “notional maximum altitude”. Owners of historic properties were not allowed to extend their buildings upwards, but they were permitted to sell the empty space between their roofs and the notional maximum to builders of new structures. Consequently, developers literally bought empty space and added it on to the maximum height they were already allowed for their buildings, thus creating the skyscrapers that the original ordinance seemed to forbid.

The arrangement enhanced neither the old nor the new, and was quickly followed up by an even stranger agreement. By the late 1980s, preservationists had convinced the city that no more of the city’s old buildings should be demolished. Yet developers still wanted to build new downtown buildings, and several deals emerged where a new complex would incorporate or literally engulf the old – the most notable example being the Victorian Commercial Bank building of 1845 which is now incorporated within the Brookfield Place mall at the corner of Yonge and Front streets.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Canada features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The best places to go in spring

The best places to go in spring

Springtime is beautiful, with its big blue skies and flowers in bloom, so there may be no better time to travel. If you're thinking about getting away, here are…

14 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

From ancient temples to hyper-modern skyscrapers, these are just a few of the world's most incredible architectural wonders. Whether you're looking to wander l…

01 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Solo travel can be one of the most rewarding ways to explore the world. Whether you'd rather spend it on a desert island or in a frenetic new city, here are th…

21 Dec 2016 • Rachel Mills camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month