Journal: Festival Hall|
Festival Hall (23 April 1999): Festival Hall is a city-block-sized retail/entertainment complex that's been under construction in downtown Toronto, scheduled for completion in May 1999. Earlier scouting had shown that the construction crews kept late hours, so Scumbone and I didn't show up until around midnight on a Friday night. Strolling around the perimeter of the building, we found a wooden barricade with a door in it. Though the door handle seemed to be fastened tight with a deadbolt, this turned out to be nothing more than a bit of decoration. We opened the door and walked through onto the site. We found four exit doors, without handles, and I reached down to the base of one of the doors to pull it out towards us.
We found ourselves at the base of a well-lit concrete stairwell, where two separate stairways criss-crossed like double-helixes as they reached up towards the top of the building. We very quietly made our way up to the top of the concrete stairway and through a couple of doors. We emerged underneath the big white screen at the front of one of the large movie theatres. Looking up at the hundreds of plush blue stadium seats, I noted that in very back corner of the theatre a security guard was sitting in one of the chairs! We were very clearly trespassing, and directly in his line of vision... except that his eyelids were closed! I grabbed a quick picture of the napping guard and then Scumbone and I beat a hasty retreat to a different level of the building.
As Scumbone and I strolled around the top floor of the building in search of stairs up to the roof, we came across a little electrical room humming with high voltage. A metal ladder here stretched two storeys up to a roof hatch which I quickly found myself on the opposite side of. The multiple levels of the gravel-coated roof were all extremely dark, so I had to be careful not to look out at the bright lights of the city or I'd spoil my night vision and presumably topple to my death. After looking around for a bit and taking a picture of Festival Hall's distinctive rainbow cube from the edge of the roof, I climbed back down into the electrical room.
Emerging back into the main hallway, we were surprised to hear the sounds of someone working nearby. We dashed for a stairway heading down, and we happened to pick a set of stairs that only exited to the area outside the building but still inside the tall wooden barricades. I pulled open another door to reveal a stairway leading down, and so we descended to the bottom of the building, emerging three levels underground inside a parking garage. We then wandered up the ramps of the parking garage in search of another entrance to the main floor of the building. On the P1 level, we found an unmanned security office containing 20-or-so CCTV monitors and after this we felt much more relaxed about wandering in front of security cameras. We didn't find a route directly from the parking garages to the main floor, but after exiting the building we found a handleless but unlocked door leading directly from Richmond Street to the main level of the site. We wandered the mostly unfinished lower two floors of the building for some time finding some employee graffiti, a freight elevator, the garage for the construction vehicles and the workers' lunchroom before eventually calling it a night and exiting through the same door we'd come in.
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