A Walk-Through of Downtown Financial District, Toronto

Walking through the financial district of Toronto, you’ll surround yourself with the tallest skyscrapers in Canada. These looming buildings are home to a myriad of banks, stockbrokers, high-powered legal and accounting firms, and corporate headquarters. Numerous television shows and movies have filmed around the financial district as well. Follow along for a closer look, and I’ll share some facts about the locations we visited.

Union Station and CN Tower

The Union Station is the busiest train station in Canada. Built in the early 1900s and opened in 1927 by the Prince of Wales, the station was the largest building back then with its cathedral-like ceiling. Today, its facade is normal size compared to the giant towers nearby. And with current construction in progress, it was hardly picture perfect.

The CN Tower seen in the distance of Union Station is the third largest tower in the world, after Dubai and Shanghai. Constructed out of cement, you can go up and see fabulous views of the city. Most tourists do, but apparently, locals say it’s not the best view of Toronto. With the high ticket price, we decided we’ll pass and listen to the locals, taking other scenic trips for that nicer view they’re talking about.

Union Station structure on the left, with the CN Tower in the distance.

Royal York

The historic Royal York Hotel, now a Fairmont Hotel, is residence to Queen Elizabeth II and the Canadian Royal Family when in Toronto. Queen Elizabeth has the Royal Suite and entire floor all to herself. And since the hotel does not have windows on its main floor except for one entrance, it makes it secure like a fortress. The hotel has been the meeting spot for former President Obama and Putin before because of the security it provides.

Fairmont Royal York

Inside the Royal York

Royal Bank Plaza

The Royal Bank Plaza shares the block with the Royal York, neighboring each other. Its gold facade makes it unique, consisting of 71,000 g of gold. Each window pane was born of gold, and during summertime, its reflection is so strong it heats up the Royal York Hotel, making the hotel’s air conditioning price go up. Not too happy about this, the hotel has brought the bank to court, but Royal York did not win the case. There is constant dispute between the two buildings because of this problem, among other issues, but it looks like they are neighbors for ‘life.’

Brookfield Place

Brookfield Place is one of the office complexes in the financial district. In the 19th century, it was known as the most valuable business block in the city, but most of that was destroyed by the 1904 Toronto Fire. Now, its modern complex connects to the underground city, PATH, and serves as part of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The most interesting structure inside Brookfield Place is the Allan Lambert Galleria, known as the cathedral of commerce because of its cathedral-like appearance. This was built because of the city’s 1 percent requirement of public art when a building is built. All of the public art you see in Toronto is based on this rule.

This bank inside Brookfield Place was the filming location for The Dark Knight when the Joker robbed a bank at the opening scene.

From Brookfield, we headed underground to PATH. The “underground city” is the second largest underground city next to Montreal.

Looking up and outside from a section of PATH

Outside, directly above the location we were just looking up from inside.

Bay Adeleide Centre, to Suits fans.

We’ve heard of the show Suits but never watched it. If you’re a fan of the show, Suits is filmed in Toronto instead of New York. I know the show is based in New York, but only some shots of New York are blended in with Toronto to make it more New York-like. This Bay Adeleide building below is where the show’s office building is supposed to be at.

The Vault

The Vault is a former vault of the Dominion Bank, now part of One King West Hotel and Residence, which took Dominion Bank’s location. The Vault was so secure that no one ever broke into it. Someone tried but died in the process when trying to drill beneath the vault because he drilled into the springs beneath it and cracked his ribs in the process. His body wasn’t found until two weeks later.

Now, the Vault is used for parties and film shootings. RED was filmed at the Vault, the scene where Bruce Willis broke into it to access CIA files. The door of the Vault stays opened but can be shut. During the film shooting, the door got stuck, and the actors were stuck inside for several hours before the Rolex people could be reached. Apparently, the Rolex people are the only ones who know how to work the door — but for a price of $18,000.

The Building that Doesn’t Belong

The Trump International Hotel and Tower is not the most popular building in downtown. Because Toronto is the most diverse city in the world, the city is based around multiculturalism and is not a big fan of Trump. During the elections, the city councilor wanted the name of this hotel changed. There has been lots of controversy around this building, and the locals we’ve talked to say it doesn’t belong. “Trump is an American. He’s not even our president. We don’t even have a building with Trudeau’s name on it.”

“Toronto is all about multiculturalism and Trump doesn’t fit here.”

Besides this controversy, we were told the building is not well-built. There have been lots of problems with it, and to name a couple, a window and the spire fell off the building.

The City Hall and Toronto Sign

In a previous post, I talked a little about the Old City Hall. Across the street is the newer city hall. This structure is space-like. It looks like an eye from an aerial view, and because of its sci-fi look, Star Trek signed a five-year contract with Toronto, using the City Hall as a filming location. This is the city’s biggest film deal ever.

In front of the city hall is the Toronto sign. This sign was put up for the 2015 Pan American Games but was never taken down because people liked it so much. It requires $100,000 a year to maintain, and the lights change color, depending on the occasion and coordinating with the CN Tower. This sign is the most popular photo spot in Nathan Phillips Square. Even I couldn’t help getting a picture of us with it.

So it’s May, but we’re still in our winter coats? Yes, Eastern Canada is one cold place!

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