toronto buildings

An architect is sharing strange and surprising facts about Toronto buildings on TikTok

Toronto is full of stunning buildings, and you may be walking past them daily without even realizing all the interesting historical facts behind them.

Toronto TikToker Anne Vranic, known as @historyhypegirl on Instagram and TikTok, has made it her mission to breathe life into the city's architecture by educating us about its buildings, and her videos will leave you a little more educated about the place we call home. 

Vranic told me her motivation to "put our city back on the architectural map," came from a place of frustration after one of her idols, Anthony Bourdain, described Toronto as "Soviet-chic" and "butt-ugly."

Here's a list of some of the most exciting facts and stories about Toronto buildings that Vranic has shared in her videos.

1. Casa Loma was a top-secret military research facility during World War II.

It's also where an early form of sonar detection was manufactured. During that time, over 48,000 units of the sonar device were manufactured and were integral in the Allied victory at sea.

2. Richard Burton proposed to Elizabeth Taylor at the Sovereign Ballroom in the King Edward Hotel.

The pair used the hotel "as their not-so-secret den of iniquity while they were both married to other people," Vranic shared with blogTO.

3. There is an actual heart buried inside St Basil's Church.
@historyhypegirl #halloween #halloweentrivia #dyk #whatt #wot #interesting #fyp #til #dyk #wow #history #coolhistory #weirdhistory #medieval #historytok #til #torontoinfluencer #torontotok ♬ Moonlight Sonata: Adagio Sostenuto - Beethoven
4. Toronto's Flatiron building, the Gooderham building, is 10 years older than New York's iconic Flatiron building.

That means we can claim to be the first city with the iconic structure. 

5. Elvis Presley stayed at the King Edward Hotel in the 50s.

The hotel "also made headlines across the universe when The Beatles chose the royal suite as their crash pad during their first Toronto visit," according to Vranic.

6. Star Trek used the Toronto City Hall building "not once, but TWICE as an alien portal," said Vranic. 
@historyhypegirl What do we wanna learn about next? #torontoarchitecture #torontotok #dyk #torontohistory #torontolife #torontoevent #torontowalks #narcitytoronto #narcitycanada #toronto ♬ original sound - Anne V
7. The beacon at the top of the Canada Life building on University Avenue changes colour depending on the weather.

It acts as a weather broadcast that's visible from almost every corner of downtown.

8. The Hemingway community residence building is where Earnest Hemingway lived during his six months of working for the Toronto Star.
@historyhypegirl Also, yesterday (July 21) was his Birthday! 🎈Source Consulted: Toronto Star 📰 #hemingway #torontotourism #hemingwayhouse #toronto #torontohistory #torontolife #torontofacts #torontodyk #torontotok #torontotiktok #torontorealestate #torontotodo #coolhistory #torontoinfluencer #blogto #nowtoronto #narcitytoronto #torontobooks #indigochapters ♬ original sound - 👑 King Moe 👑
9. Toronto's famous Zanzibar strip club was featured in Marvel's The Incredible Hulk.

You can see a peek of the iconic joint during Hulk's final battle scene.

10. There's a hilarious story about the faces carved into the structure of Old City Hall.

The architect behind the structure, EJ Lennox, carved the faces of city councilmen onto the building out of spite after they refused to place a plaque acknowledging his hard work outside the building.

Vranic's interest in architecture and Toronto's history was sparked during the pandemic when everything shut down, and she had to turn to walking around the city for entertainment.

"I started reading historical plaques outside of buildings and quickly learned our city's architecture is so much more than meets the eye," said Vranic.

"In a world where many of us are glued to our smartphones and rarely take the time to look up, it's easy to forget that architecture is a form of accessible art and artifact, and that buildings - old and new - have some of the best stories to tell (or tea to spill)."

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim

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