The Financial District

Toronto tall buildings

Toronto is the financial capital of Canada, with the tallest buildings in the country. This area doesn't have much to offer tourists, however, the underground concourses provide a sheltered path from Union Station north to the Eaton Center. This is very much appreciated during the winter.

Artwork
Artwork on one of the old buildings.

You can easily get lost in what must certainly be the world's largest network of underground shopping concourses. Finding your way through this maze is made more difficult by short-sighted building owners who barely acknowledge the existence of other buildings. The best they could agree to is signs identifying only the immediately neighboring buildings.

TD Centre Towers
A couple of the TD Centre towers, designed by Mies van der Rohe.

Note that most shops under the skyscrapers are open only during business hours, Monday through Friday. Also note that it's best to avoid busy areas, like the concourse under the Royal Bank towers, during rush hour.

Cow
People waiting in a lineup alongside a cow.

Be sure to visit the cows sitting on the lawn between the tall, black towers of the Toronto-Dominion Center. The seven bronze cows by artist Joe Fafard form a sculpture called "The Pasture". Each cow weighs 544kg.

A Quick Tour Through the Underground

The underground concourses under the tall buildings are well appreciated when the weather gets cold. But you can easily get lost. Here are a few tips. First, look for the PATH signs. They'll point the way to neighboring buildings. Second, look for maps of the whole network. These aren't the best designed, since building owners want you to stay just in their particular buildings.

Many people start at Union Station, arriving either on a subway train or a GO train. Let's walk through the network northwards to the Eaton Center:

Immediately north of Union Station is the Union subway station. Before leaving the station to the north, note a hallway to the right. This leads to BCE place, where you can find the Hockey Hall of Fame. North of BCE place, passages lead to Commerce Court and Scotia Plaza. But instead, walk straight ahead into the Royal Bank Plaza.

In the Royal Bank Plaza, a ramp on the right leads downward towards the first of many food courts. Most of the stores you'll encounter are much the same as in any other shopping mall. But some of the food places offer unique choices.

Continuing north, you reach an escalator that takes you into the Toronto Dominion Center, with its distinctive black trim typical of the 1960's. Underground, you can't see the black office towers above designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. From here, you can turn right to go to Commerce Court. Or, you can risk getting lost by turning left, which may lead you to Roy Thomson Hall, Metro Hall, and the CBC Broadcast Center.

North of the Toronto Dominion Center, you reach the First Canadian Place. You immediately encounter the elevators that can take you to the top of the tallest building in Canada. To the right, you can walk towards the Scotia Plaza. But instead, curve left around the elevators, go past the Market, and turn left into a wide shopping concourse. About two-thirds of the way to the end, look for a narrow passageway to the right. Follow this busy hallway to the north.

We then reach the Richmond Adelaide Complex, which leads into the Sheraton Center. If you continue north, you end up in the parking garage under Nathan Phillips Square. Turn right instead, which leads through yet another shopping concourse.

After entering the Bay store, follow the signs leading towards the subway. This link of the network is, of course, open only when the Bay store is open. You can reach the Eaton Center either on this level by walking through the subway station, or on an enclosed pedestrian bridge over Queen Street two levels higher.

Entering the Eaton Center below ground level, just past the Queen subway station, you end up in a food court beneath a flock of Canada Geese. If you continue north, you end up at the Dundas subway station. An underground passage leads northward to the Atrium on Bay, and further on, another takes you westward to the Bus Terminal.

Some Facts About the Underground

  • You can reach 48 office towers, where about 105,000 people work.
  • 1100 stores, shops, and restaurants.
  • 5 subway stations, Union station, and intercity bus terminal.
  • 29 tunnels, 3 bridges
  • 9km of single level walkways, 12km of multi-level walkways.
  • 6 hotels