(photo borrowed from the National Post since we didnt get any shots of the entire building at once.)
The Hearn Generating Station is a monstrous old building with a towering smoke stack that’s visible from most parts of southern Toronto, it’s laid in disrepair since the 1980s. Originally it employed about 600 workers as a coal power plant and must have been astonishing while in operation- a cavernous space full of noise, smoke, and soot.
It was recently re-opened (sort of, they made safe passages basically) for an arts festival in Toronto called Luminato. I finally managed to get to the Hearn this year with my brother (Gloomth’s other main photographer) to walk around inside the incredible space and we both took about a zillion photos! It was absolutely amazing (if you like rusted old infrastructure). I thought I’d share some of them here since it’s such a unique industrial looking environment!
Outside the building is a giant hulk of red-brown brick and broken windows, there are huge holes where the intake fans once sat as well as other missing industrial machinery that’s left enormous scars on the building. The smoke stack stands at 705 feet tall, towering over everything in that end of the city.
Outside there are the remains of buildings where soot and coal would have been delivered/removed by rail. Railway tracks run through the property, though aren’t being used these days. The stairwells leading to the silos are all rusted and crumbling, most of the big chutes used for the coal/soot have been removed entirely.
Nature is slowly retaking the land around the station, thistles and small plants crowd anywhere that isn’t covered in cement and birds are nesting everywhere.
Inside you’re greeted with a big mural that says “DONT LOOK BACK”…Kind of ominous! The space hosts a music festival as part of Luminato with all kinds of unique bands/performances, I haven’t managed to attend any of those parties yet but maybe next year as I’d love to see the space at night! There’s also a fancy restaurant set up in the old control room (reservations were totally full so there was zero chance of us trying it sadly).
Inside the station the red-tinged cement hallway above features a variety of art installations, some of which are interactive. We were there at about 5pm and many of the exhibits were closed so we didn’t really bother exploring those. The lighting is really neat, and I’m sure even more effective at night!
There’s no way to express how *huge* this place is in the photos! I took a lot of shots of the ceiling just because it was stories upon stories tall. A complex web of rusting steel girders and crumbling cement.
There was a giant disco ball hung at one end of the upper level. In the photo above you can see people walking on the metal stairways installed for the event, that might help give you an idea of just how big this place is!
We really enjoyed exploring this huge space! For years it’s sat empty and inaccessible, it was guarded more heavily once an urban explorer died wandering the space one night. It’s amazing that the city is breathing new life into this incredible structure with Luminato and hopefully it’ll continue!
Here is a big heap of dead bugs I saw in the window. Look at all those dead bugs! 😛
It was a bit like walking through some post apocalyptic video game. I also took a ton of video footage to use in future Gloomth fashion films so watch out for that also in our upcoming work. 🙂