5 Cool Places to Check Out in Downtown Calgary

The area between 1st Street and 9th Avenue S.W. is home to some of the city’s most iconic and historic architecture.

Illustration by Jarett Sitter.


This work by visual artist Jill Anholt takes inspiration from the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), complete with blackened rails and wooden ties, resulting in both a notable sculpture and a functional seating area. Its mirrors reflect the nearby Calgary Tower, creating an intersection of the past and the present at one of the city’s most historic intersections. Visit at night to see it lit up in CPR red.


The Edison

Formerly the Pan Canadian Tower, this 30-storey skyscraper was converted to The Edison in 2017. The tech-friendly building is home to tenants such as Reach and MobSquad, and, in addition to workspaces, has a dog park, golf simulator and basketball court. It’s also the temporary location of the Glenbow during renovations: Glenbow at the Edison is open Wednesday to Sunday and admission is free.


Fairmont Palliser

Since its opening in 1914, the Palliser has remained one of Calgary’s most grand and storied addresses. Originally a Canadian Pacific Hotel, the Palliser became a Fairmont property in 1999. The Edwardian-style building’s 407 guest rooms are complemented by multiple event spaces and ballrooms, which recently received a refresh, plus the Hawthorn Dining Room & Bar, a health club, spa and pool.


Grain Exchange Building

Upon its completion in 1910, the six-storey Grain Exchange was the tallest structure in Calgary — and it contained the city’s first passenger elevator, too. The sandstone building was originally a hub for the businesses that set the grain prices across Alberta; now, you’ll find studios, offices, retail and street-level restaurants, including Meat & Bread sandwich shop and Thai Thien Vietnamese subs.


Alberta Hotel Building

Another iconic sandstone building, the Italiante-style Alberta Hotel Building operated as a — you guessed it — hotel from its opening in 1890 to 1916. It was popular among the day’s ranchers who came to the city to do business; today, it remains in the centre of the action, located within the Stephen Avenue National Historic District, and home to Murrieta’s West Coast Bar & Grill.

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This article appears in the May 2023 issue of Avenue Calgary.

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