How the “Windy City” is getting blown away by Toronto

Chicago might not be the most prolific city in the world, but it certainly is well known. For it’s architecture, size, economic significance, cultural institutions, sports teams, Chicago is a globally important city. But the skyscraper city appears to have peaked. From population to skyscrapers to a host of other indicators, Chicago is struggling to find a future midst the high-growth stories of Asian and other developing city hubs. And although this is the story for many mature Western cities, there is one particular exception to this.

The City of Toronto, although holding the unofficial title for the most important city in Canada for decades, has never had the international caché that comes along with the world’s greatest cities. From population, to economic strength, to cultural vibrancy, Toronto was always there, but always second fiddle to the great American and European cities of New York, London, and yes, Chicago. Toronto has always looked to Chicago for its planning and for its comparison. Both cities are similar in geography, history, population, and national importance. But it has always seemed that Chicago had an edge.

The past few years have been witness to countless cranes crowding the Toronto skyline, and countless more being anticipated. The hyper expansion of the city’s skyline might excite architectural and urban aficionados, but it should really excite every Torontonian and every Canadian. In isolation, this construction boon is merely that; however, it reflects a deeper change in the city’s proverbial landscape. From economic strength to cultural vibrancy to international renown, Toronto is on its way upwards in more way than one. Take a look at the following infographic as a base understanding about why this is the case.

Chicago might have been looked up to by Toronto, but very soon it’s going to be the Big Smoke blowing down on the Windy City.

Toronto vs Chicago Infographic


City of Toronto Economic Development Committee, Economic Dashboard, December 2012

The Toronto Star, Tale of two cities: Chicago vs. Toronto, August 12, 2010

John R. Kennedy, Global News, How Toronto Compares to Chicago, September 19, 2012

Startup Genome, TechCrunch, The Startup Ecosystem Report 2012, November 20, 2012

Z/Yen Think Tank, Global Financial Centres Index, January 2013

Innovation Cities, Innovation Cities Top 100 Index 2011: City Rankings, October 18, 2011

Economist Intelligence Unit, The Liveability Ranking and Overview, August 2012