Graffiti Alley in Toronto has recently gained fame as people flock to it to get Instagram Worthy pics. Is this place worth visiting on your trip to Toronto? Scroll down and judge for yourself.
What is Graffiti Alley?
As evident by the name, Graffiti Alley, is an alley in downtown Toronto filled with graffiti. However, this is no ordinary graffiti, the work that’s spray painted on the walls is some of the most interesting artworks you will see in Toronto.
Where is Graffiti Alley Toronto?
Graffiti Alley is very close to Spadina Avenue and Queen Street West intersection. The alleyway is located between Queen Street West and Richmond Street West. It stretches from Spadina Avenue to Portland Street. It’s about 0.4 km in length. This map shows the location clearly:
How to get there by Public Transit?
The easiest way to get to Graffiti Alley is by street car.
If you are coming from the west or east, board the 501 – Queen to Neville Park street car. Get off at Spadina on Queen stop (if coming from the east) or at Queen Street West at Spadina Ave(if coming from the west). Then, just walk to Graffiti Alley on Spadina. Refer to the map shown above.
If you are coming from the north or south, board the 510 – Spadina street car. For the north, get down at the street car stop right in front of Graffiti Alley at Spadina Avenue At Queen Street West South Side . If you are coming from the south, get down at Spadina Ave at Front St West .
Can anyone paint in the Graffiti Alley?
No. Typically, the owner of the shop whose back wall faces the alley commissions the art. You need the shop owner’s permission to paint over it.
Who are the artists ?
Graffiti Art or street art is typically done by unknown artists. Some even consider this art as a type of vandalism. The art in Graffiti street though just enhances the look and feel of an otherwise drab and dirty alleyway. Some of the artists that have painted these walls are Uber5000, DOHCrew, Elicser, Nicolas Canon etc. You can find the artist’s signature tagged in the painting.
The mural of the “chicks playing hockey” and a new one of Toronto with a monkey climbing the CN Tower in King Kong Fashion has been painted by Uber5000.
Is the art in the Graffiti Alley permanent?
The art is Graffiti Alley Toronto constantly changes. Usually, the artists who created the art paint over their original work to create new ones. This makes it more exciting. Every few years you visit the alley, you see different paintings.
When is the ideal time to visit?
Graffiti alley is usually crowded during the weekends when hoards of tourists visit the area. Therefore, the best time to visit is during weekdays.
What to expect on your visit?
The Graffiti alley, without a doubt, is stunning. However, it is also gritty and dirty. The alley is used by many homeless people during the night. So, you can expect some places to stink of urine and have some litter. I had pinch my nose due to the stench in some places.
Also, the alleyway consists of parking lots which means that the artwork is sometimes blocked by the parked vehicles. I was lucky that this was the only scooter in the lot when I visited, which in fact enhanced the picture to some extent.
Which is the best spot to get a picture?
There is no end to the number of places where you can get a great picture here. However, one of the most popular spot in this alley is on the window of the fish aquarium building. People usually like to climb up on the ledge to get a picture. There is a a wooden crate below the window to give you a leg up. It’s still pretty high as I found out.
Are there any shops/ restaurants in the area?
After you have taken a dozen photos here, I am sure you will feel exhausted and hungry. Fortunately, this area is near a great shopping street. Queen Street West has some amazing coffee shops and restaurants. Also, you can go to the near by Kensington Market or China Town on Spadina Avenue.
Are there any tours of this alley?
TourGuys conducts some informative tours of this alley. If you want to know more information about this street, you should consider taking this walking tour. The tour guides are knowledgeable and very well-informed.
Are there other tourist attractions nearby?
You can walk through graffiti alley within an hour. That includes posing for pictures. So, after you seen this, you can explore other places nearby. The Art Gallery Of Ontario, China Town and Kensington market are all within walkable distance.
Is this the only place for street art in Toronto?
No, you can find exceptional street art through out the city. Some of the other noteworthy places are Lesliville, Kensington Market. Some new ones are coming up at Jarvis Street and Yonge Street in Downtown Toronto as well.
Final Thoughts: Graffiti – Vandalism Or Art?
Graffiti has been a topic of contention in Toronto for a long time. It can be viewed as a nuisance or art. Noteably, Toronoto’s ex-mayor the Late Rob Ford was strongly opposed to it. However, the city of Toronto is now approaching this topic in a new balanced way.
Toronto wants to encourage street art in a way that beautifies the city instead of degrading it. So, initiatives such as StreetARToronto(StART) and The Laneway Project have been born. The StART initiative gives the street artist room for expression while giving a business owner incentive to get his walls painted for free. Similarly, The Laneway Project aims to beautify laneways across the city into artistic spaces.
Whatever your view-point of Graffiti, I hope the pictures I have shown here have impressed you enough to give Graffiti Alley a visit.
If you are looking for more Instagram inspiration on places in Toronto and elsewhere in the world, don’t forget to visit my Instagram profile Traveling__Pari and follow me.
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How cool! I didn’t know know this existes, but now, I’ll going to search it out on my next visit to the GTO.
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