toronto’s human centre

Since it was trivial to calculate the centre of the city, I thought I’d do something a little more complex: calculate the centre of the city, weighted for population. I scraped the 2006 population data by ward from the City of Toronto: Ward Profiles pages; hooray for curl and regexes. Realising that I had no information on population distribution within wards, I made a good old engineering assumption: we could idealize the population as a point mass at the centroid of each ward, and then calculate the centre of mass by balancing moments around the X and Y axis. (I mean, c’mon – it’s the sort of thing we all think about daily … isn’t it? Guys … hello … anyone there?)

I’ll spare you the details until after the jump, but I calculate the human centre of Toronto to be at 43.717794°N, 79.390299°W – that’s in Blythwood Ravine, just south of Blythwood Road. We should have a picnic there …


Finding the exact geographic centre of Toronto

Spacing has alluded to it. The Ontario Science Centre makes bold (and incorrect) claims about it. But here’s the real deal.

  • If you consider Toronto to be defined by its city wards, the centre of Toronto lies at 43.725518°N, 79.390531°W.
  • If you consider Toronto to be defined by its neighbourhoods, the centre of Toronto lies at 43.726495°N, 79.390641°W.

You can work this out in one line of SQL. By combining all the wards or neighbourhoods into one union shape (SpatiaLite uses the GUnion() function), and then calculating the centroid, that’s the centre of the city:

select astext(transform(centroid(gunion(geometry)),4326)) from wards

To get the results in a more human-friendly format, I transformed it to WGS84 (EPSG SRID 4326), and used astext() to get it in something other than binary.

Update, 18 March: great minds, etc … Torontoist just posted the similar In Search of Toronto’s Geographic Centre.