Exploring the Financial District and City Halls
Introduction - Bank of Montreal
You should now be standing on the northeast corner of Yonge and Front.
Across the street in front of you is the decorative Bank of Montreal. This Beaux-Arts building is more than one hundred and thirty years old now, and it served as the bank's headquarters for more than fifty years, from 1886 to 1949. Today, it's the Hockey Hall of Fame.
My name is Jane and I'm the founder of On the Town Tours. Today we're going to explore Toronto's Financial District and iconic City Halls.
Toronto's commercial district first took shape in the Old Town, about 1km east of here.
East is behind you, by the way.
As the city grew, the commercial district moved westward. When it arrived here, and this building opened, it was considered appropriate for the head office of a bank to be palatial like this, with ornate carvings symbolizing the social pillars of commerce, science and culture.
Work on the Bank of Montreal building started before the development of the steel skeleton in 1885 and the passenger elevator in 1887. These paved the way for modern skyscrapers.
At first, there was resistance to taller buildings. But in 1905 the City approved a 15 storey tower a few blocks to your right, up Yonge Street, and the modern high rise city began.
Banks competed to build the tallest tower and over the years buildings height's kept increasing, offering ever greater floor space and ever larger incomes. The styles of skyscrapers changed with the times, reflecting evolving technologies and new modes of design. The story they tell is the story is the story of Toronto's evolution into Canada's commercial and financial capital.
As we walk through this district together we'll learn about the architects who have left their mark and see how Toronto became the city it is today.
Let's get going. Cross Yonge Street towards the bank, and then keep going. You'll walk past a sculpture of hockey players. It's the work of a Hungarian-Canadian artist named Edie Parker and is titled "Our Game."
VoiceMap uses GPS to play audio automatically at each location on the tour. So put your phone away, enjoy the narrative and just follow my directions to the next location point. There will be occasional silence, but don't worry, this just means we are in between locations. If you get lost, you can always look at the in-app map on your phone.
Keep going straight. I'll meet you just outside the entrance to Brookfield Place, near the door marked 10 Front Street.