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October 17th, 2017
Beaches Living Guide Fall/Winter 2016

Eaton Centre

220 Yonge Street
Opened 1977
Architect: Eberhard Zeidler
Builder: Cadillac Fairview
3rd largest mall in Canada

Fun Fact:
After the Eaton company declared bankruptcy, there was talk of changing the name of the Eaton Centre. The owners wisely recognized the name Eaton’s was iconic in Toronto, a final memory of Timothy Eaton’s first dry goods store on Yonge Street just south of the current location.

 

Today, the Eaton Centre is still Toronto’s only downtown shopping centre, the third largest mall in Canada, with over 230 stores, restaurants and services. It is considered a celebrated landmark for its architecture and for “Flight Stop”, with over 47 million visitors each year! It continues to attract internationally rebound retailers, Torontonians and visitors continue to expand their world class shopping experience at home, Toronto Eaton Centre.

In the summer of 2015, it expanded again, adding 25 new retailers, and next year, two major high-end retailers, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue will usher in yet another new chapter for the Centre.

A Modern Downtown Mall

In 1966, a plan for downtown shopping centre was unveiled that at one point put Old City hall and the Church of Holy Trinity, a landmark dated back to 1847, in danger. The complex proposed by a partnership between Cadillac Fairview and the Eaton family (that owned the Eaton’s department stores) called for their demolition. Torontonians pushed back. Plans were altered so that the old city hall was spared and when the first phase of the Eaton Centre was opened in 1977, beautiful Holy Trinity church was intact.

When the centre opened, everyone was awed by its design – a classic mirroring great indoor space such as Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. The Centre was open, airy and optimistic, architect Eberhard Zeidler created a design that made you feel you were outside even when indoors. You can see another example of Zeidler’s work – Ontario Place.

Incorporated into the design was a permanent sculpture, commissioned by Cadillac Fairview in concert with the architect. “Flight Stop”, the hanging sculpture, created by renowned artist Michael Snow, was unveiled in 1979 to hang from the galleria.

The second drama to occur at the Eaton Centre was Christmas 1981, when the Eaton Centre decided to put red bows on the geese in Flight Stop as part of the annual decorations. Michael Snow asked that the bows be removed, but the Centre had spent thousands of dollars to have workers and equipment to position the bows. Michael Snow took the Eaton Centre to court, claiming the bows distorted the integrity of his artwork. He won and the bows were removed right away.

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