Little Bits of History

CN Tower

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 26, 2012

CN Tower

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:

Helicopters – In 1934, the FW-61 helicopter is flown for the first time.
Cyclone – In 1927, Coney Island opened a new ride.
Pied Piper – In 1284, a piper led 130 children out of Hamelin.

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