I visited Graffiti Alley in August on a trip to Toronto. Here’s what you need to know before you go!
Toronto has some of the best street art in North America, and Graffiti Alley is a great place to start if you want to see that work on display.
If you need a pop of color in your life, you will get more than your fill in this 1 kilometer long span of urban art that thrives behind local businesses.
It’s locally referred to as Mercer’s Alley, since Rick Mercer used the walls as backdrop for his TV commentary.
The level of artistry is due in large part to a championing of street art by various organizations in the city, and a push to beautify the area with local pieces.
Today, Graffiti Alley has taken its place as one of Toronto’s most iconic stops and offers enough visual intrigue to keeps kids and adults alike entertained for an hour or so of strolling.
Here’s everything you need to know to plan a visit to Graffiti Alley in Toronto, Canada!
About Grafitti Alley
Graffiti Alley is significant in its history for being the first stretch of legalized graffiti in Toronto.
Owners were being fined for not removing the art (who can blame them?) and the legislature decided to change that by legalizing this otherwise prohibited means of creative expression.
Currently, if there is street art on your property you can petition the city to be allowed to keep it or paint over it at your expense.
While graffiti is traditionally associated with the painting of one’s name in bubble letters, street art is much more elaborate and constitutes a mural.
It can help beautify a space.
Is Graffiti Alley in Toronto safe?
Graffiti Alley is well trafficked and generally safe to visit.
You’ll find a ton of tourists here, all hoping to snag pictures of the walls. Generally, everyone is respectful and allows others to take shots as needed.
You’ll also see plenty of art students coming here for inspiration. There are events held here at times–the weekend I went there was a festival taking place in the alley.
Aside from well publicized events, however, I wouldn’t advise being here at night.
It’s best to see the art with sunlight anyway, so aim for first thing in the morning to avoid crowds and get soft lighting for your pictures.
What street is Graffiti Alley in Toronto?
Located just south of Queen Street W., between Queen Street and Richmond Street, Graffiti Alley runs west from Spadina Avenue to Portland Avenue. It is located in Toronto’s Fashion District.
The official address is 513 Queen Street W., Toronto, ON M5V 2B4.
Is Graffiti Alley in Toronto Free?
Yes, Graffiti Alley is free to visit. You may have to pay for parking depending on where you park.
Most of the parking in this area is city parking that requires payment by the hour. You can risk leaving a vehicle for a short period of time, but it’s so affordable I would pay and take your time exploring.
Otherwise, you’re free to walk around for as long as you’d like without time limits or admissions fees.
You can easily spend an hour taking pictures and exploring this place, or see it in a quick 5 minute stroll just walking by. The area is largely unregulated or monitored, so feel free to linger.
Can anyone paint in Graffiti Alley, Toronto?
While the art is not expected to be permanent, it does need to be replaced by a superior piece, and it’s disrespectful to partially paint over an existing mural.
Usually painting is reserved for established or non-amateur artists, and you ask permission of the building owner before painting.
Know Before You Go
Graffiti Alley is still an alley, so avoid wearing open-toed shoes if you can.
There are places to eat and shop in the area. This is a fashion/arts district so it will seem more industrial than other areas of the city.
It’s not exactly family-friendly, but you will see people of all ages enjoying the artwork. It’s also completely in the open so be prepared to brave the elements.
The morning I went I had about 45 minutes before it started to rain and I had to move my equipment indoors.
Till next time, safe travels!
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