Happy 178th Birthday, Toronto!

Today, the City of Toronto celebrates its 138th birthday. It got us reflecting on essentials that make Toronto the cultural, financial and entertainment centre it is today.

First Skyscraper
Even life-long Toronto residents remain intrigued by the city’s ever-changing skyline. Toronto’s first skyscraper was called The Temple Building and it was built in 1895 at the northwest corner of Bay and Richmond streets. When the eight-storey building was completed, it practically dominated the whole downtown landscape. The building is hailed for prompting the redevelopment of Bay Street from a small-scale commercial district into an office area and budding financial district. It was demolished in 1970 as tastes and the demands of the city changed, but its demolition brought another new era and a new design of office building, transforming the downtown core. The site is currently home to the Queen-Bay Centre. 

Did you know? Upon its completion, The Temple Building was Toronto’s tallest building until the Trader’s Bank Building was built in 1905.

CN Tower
It’s probably a safe bet to say that most Toronto YPs can’t remember the city without the CN Tower. At 553 metres tall, it was completed in 1976 and became the world’s tallest free-standing structure at the time. It was built by Canadian National Railway as a telecommunications centre to combat the problem of poor reception caused by Toronto’s skyscrapers. In 1995, the American Society of Civil Engineers declared the CN Tower one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World. Even in an age of limitless architecture, the CN Tower continues to intrigue and remains a place where you take visitors from out of town. It’s a signature landmark to spot when driving into the city from the Gardiner that tells us that we are close to home.

Did you know? The CN Tower is visible from the shore of Lake Ontario, which is 48 km south.

Whether we love or hate it, the TTC is a signature part of Toronto. Privately operated transit services in Toronto began in 1850 and in the ensuing years some of the routes were operated by the city. It was not until 1921 that the city took over all routes and formed the Toronto Transportation Commission to operate them, providing service predominantly by streetcars. Established formally in 1954 (as the Toronto Transit Commission), the TTC has grown to comprise four rapid transit lines with a total of 69 stations, over 149 bus routes and 11 streetcar lines.

Did you know? The TTC operates the third largest urban mass transit system in North America based on volume, following New York City Transit Authority and Mexico City Metro.

Rogers Centre
The Rogers Centre, formerly (and probably forever) known as SkyDome, has been a centre of countless memories since childhood and its original turtle mascot, “Domer.” We vividly remember the day it opened to the anticipation of baseball fans throughout the city on June 3rd, 1989, when it became the first stadium to feature a retractable roof. In addition to offering a playing field to the Toronto Blue Jays, the Rogers Centre hosts a diversity of events on an annual basis across over 200 event days.

Did you know? The roof opens or closes in 20 minutes.

What is remarkable about Toronto is the fact that the city is home to three major universities, attracting students from all over the globe. University of Toronto was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King’s College, and was the first institution of higher learning in Upper Canada. U of T is currently Canada’s largest university, with almost 70,000 students on its three campuses. The Ryerson Institute of Technology was founded in 1948 as an experiment in post-secondary education and is currently home to more than 17,000 full-time students. York University was established in 1959 as a non-denominational institution by the York University Act and today has over 50,000 full or part-time students at its main campus and Glendon College.

Did you know: This past fall, The University of Toronto was named the third top school in the world outside the United States by Newsweek (behind only the University of Cambridge and University of Oxford) in a release of the 2011 rankings season.