June 26, 1976: The CN Tower in downtown Ontario opens to the public. Even prior to completion, it was the tallest “free-standing structure on land.” It overtook the Ostankino Tower in Moscow while under construction. The Russian tower, completed in 1967, stands 1,640 feet high. The Canadian tower rises 1,815 feet into the sky. It held the record for 31 years until September 12, 2007 when the Burj Dubai (now called Burj Kahlifa) surpassed it. The CN Tower remains the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere.
The tower was built by Canadian National, a railway company. In 1995 ownership of the tower changed but locals wished to keep the “CN” in the tower’s name. It now stands for Canada’s National Tower. The tower was built by the railroad because the transport company was expanding into TV and radio communications. The idea took hold and became official in 1972, four years after first proposed. In the 1960s and 70s, several skyscrapers were built in Ontario making it difficult to broadcast communication signals effectively. Because of the tall buildings, a tower over 980 feet needed to be built.
Construction began on February 6, 1973 with a huge excavation. A hole 49.2 feet deep at the center was created by removing 56,000 tons of dirt and shale. The base was constructed using 9,156 cubic yards of concrete with 450 tons of rebar and 36 tons of steel cable. In four months, the base was complete. The main support pillar was built using a hydraulically raised platform. Each day, as the concrete set, the hydraulic jacks raised the platform about 20 feet higher. Concrete was poured continuously by a team of 1,532 people who finished on February 22, 1974.
August 1974 saw the beginning of the outer construction the engineering innovations throughout construction were remarkable. The antenna was raised by crane, but during construction the helicopter Sikorsky S-4 Skycrane became available and finished the installation. The tower opened to the public on this day although the official opening was held October 1. More than two million international visitors come yearly to see the tower which cost CND$63 million to build (≈ $228 million today). The tower was designed by John Andrews Architects in conjunction with WZMH Architects.
A well-ordered life is like climbing a tower; the view halfway up is better than the view from the base, and it steadily becomes finer as the horizon expands. – William Lyon Phelps
Be as a tower firmly set; Shakes not its top for any blast that blows. – Dante Alighieri
Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility. – Saint Augustine
A tree trunk the size of a man grows from a blade as thin as a hair. A tower nine stories high is built from a small heap of earth. – Lao Tzu
Also on this day:
June 26, 1284: The Pied Piper leads 130 children away from Hamelin, Germany. This is the traditional date given the legendary tale. According to the story, Hamelin was inundated with rats when fortuitously, a man dressed in multi-colored [pied] clothing appeared. He said he was a rat catcher and promised to rid the town of rats for a fee. The man played a musical pipe and led the rats to the Weser River, where all but one of the rats drowned. At that point, the townspeople were rid of the rats and so refused to pay the piper.
Infuriated and seeking revenge, the Pied Piper waited for Saint John and Paul’s day or June 26. While the adults were in church, the Piper all dressed in green, began to play his pipe. The 130 boys and girls of the town followed the man out of town and into a cave and they were never seen again. One poor lame child could not keep up and was saved. A deaf child could not hear the music and was saved. A blind child could not see where everyone was going and was saved. These three children told the adults what had happened. There are different ending, depending on the version. In some, the children are returned after payment is met and in some the children are not.
The earliest evidence of this tale is found in a stained glass window placed in the Church of Hamelin around 1300. The window was destroyed in 1660, but we have records of what was depicted. The window is said to have been created in memory of the tragic event. There is no record, other than the window, telling of actual events. Modern day scholars have tried to make sense of the story. They believe it may be allegorical in nature. A plague of some sort carried off the children and the Pied Piper is simply Death.
Another theory is the “emigration” theory. This is widely held and seems supported by outside sources. In the Middle Ages, older children would willingly abandon their parents and move away and found their own village. This was especially true in Eastern Europe. Several villages are known to have been founded in this manner. In this case, the Piper would be the leader of the children. It is also possible that the village of Hamelin was depopulated as destitute or greedy parents sold their children to a recruiter who took the children elsewhere. Orphans and illegitimate children could be off-loaded in this manner.
“Among the various interpretations, reference to the colonization of East Europe starting from Low Germany is the most plausible one: The ‘Children of Hameln’ would have been in those days citizens willing to emigrate being recruited by landowners to settle in Moravia, East Prussia, Pomerania or in the Teutonic Land. It is assumed that in past times all people of a town were referred to as ‘children of the town’ or ‘town children’ as is frequently done today. The ‘Legend of the children’s Exodus’ was later connected to the ‘Legend of expelling the rats’. This most certainly refers to the rat plagues being a great threat in the medieval milling town and the more or less successful professional rat catchers.” – from the official website for the town of Hameln
“Pied Piper: As a rule / I refrain from calling any man a fool. Heed me now. / I’ll wait until yon clock strikes the hour. / Don’t let me go away / Without my pay.” – from The Pied Piper of Hamelin [1957 TV show]
Pied Piper: [speaking of the plague of rats] Leaders of virtue; character builders, / To rid your town of this verminous pox, / My fee is fifty thousand guilders.
First Counselor: Fifty thousand guilders?
Second Counselor: You’ve lost your mind! – from The Pied Piper of Hamelin [1957 TV show]
Mayor of Hamelin: You have an invention?
Pied Piper: I attract attention/ Chiefly with a secret charm/ On creatures that do people harm;/ The mole, the toad, the newt and viper./
Pied Piper: Who doesn’t know of the Pied Piper? – from The Pied Piper of Hamelin [1957 TV show]
June 26, 1934: The Focke-Wulf FW-61, the first fully controllable production helicopter, is flown for the first time. Professor Heinrich Focke and engineer Gerd Achgelis began the design of this type of flying machine in 1932. Focke and Georg Wulf, along with Dr. Werner Naumann founded Focke-Wulf-Flugzeugbau GmbH in 1923. Wulf died in a monoplane accident in 1927. The company continued. Focke and Achgelis used a training aircraft frame and attached single-engine rotors on each side of the fuselage in place of the wings, the first successful helicopter. Focke was ousted from his own company by shareholder pressure in 1936. He and Achgelis form an eponymous company in 1937.
Helicopters are much more complex, expensive, and limited by speed, range, and payload when compared to fixed-wing aircraft. However, they are more maneuverable, can take off and land vertically, and can hover or reverse direction. Today, there are hybrid aircraft which combines some elements of fixed-wing flight along with some of the helicopter.
Fixed wing flight is generated by the relative motion between the air and the curved fixed wing. Lift is created as the airstream passes by something that deflects it. This is in accordance with Newton’s third law of motion. The helicopter uses the same principal but with rotating “wings.”
The FW-61 achieved a top speed of 76 mph during its testing in 1936. Because of the aerodynamic limitations of rotors, it is thought that the maximum attainable speed of any helicopter is 250 mph. The world’s fastest helicopter was a modified ZB500 G-Lynx with a top recorded speed of 249.10 mph. The US military “Black Hawk” has a cruising speed of 150 mph and a maximum speed of 220.
“I grew up in a neighborhood so rough, I learned to read by the light of a police helicopter.” – Bill Jones
“There are still too few helicopters to reach more than 1,000 remote villages with lifesaving supplies that children urgently need.” – Ann Veneman
“There is a continued need for more helicopter capacity, to move in the inaccessible areas. The terrain here is very difficult and winter is approaching.” – Hilary Benn
“The helicopter is a very potent business tool to shuttle mid-level folks to Wall Street, … The biggest issue is the time that the client saves. If you’re going from Manhattan to Washington, the fastest way to go is by helicopter.” – Mike Moran
Also on this day, in 1927 the Cyclone opened at Coney Island.