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16 Interesting Facts About CN Tower

[Estimated read time: 6 minutes]

The CN Tower is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Canada. Situated in downtown Toronto, the building was completed in 1976 and since then it has been used as an observation and a communication tower. It also hosts a restaurant and other attractions.

Since its inauguration, millions of tourists from around the world visit the CN Tower every year. It is currently owned and by the Federal Crown Corporation Canada Lands Company and belongs to the World Federation of Great Towers. Here we have compiled some of the most interesting facts about the CN Tower that you might not know.

16. Some Basic Facts and Statistics

Construction Started In: 1973
Height: 553.33 m
Architects: E.R. Baldwin, M. Housden, J. Andrews, Weeb Zerafa (WZMH Architects)
Number of Steps: 1,776
Number of Elevators: 11
Total Cost: $48 Million US Dollars

15. It Was Initially Conceptualized in 1968

Construction of CN towerConstruction of CN Tower  Image Courtesy: Robert Taylor

The idea of such a huge structure was first originated in 1968, when the Canadian National Railway Company decided to erect the biggest transmission tower in Canada. The idea was to demonstrate the power of Canadian Railways and nation’s tech sector. The project was finalized four years later in 1972 and construction on the site began a year after that.

14. How It Got Its Name

The name “CN” stands for Canadian National, the railway company that authorized its construction. The tower along with the land on which it is currently standing was once owned by the company. However, in 1995 it was sold to the Canada Lands Company.

13. Even Its Construction Attracted A Huge Crowd

In the late 1974, after the completion of the main structure, the only thing remaining was to put the main antenna in its place, which was initially planned to be carried out by cranes.

However, the construction was finally done with the help of Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane helicopter, which specialized in lifting heavy objects. The helicopter carried the entire tower in 36 rounds over three and half months.

The whole operation gained such popularity that it became an attraction for tourists and local crowds, Its entire schedule was printed in newspapers. That helicopter was named “Olga”.

12. It’s One of the Tallest Structures in the World

CN TowerThe CN Tower  Image Courtesy: Wladyslaw Sojka

The CN Tower is one of the tallest freestanding towers in the world and the tallest in the Western hemisphere. It held the crown of tallest freestanding structure for 32 years (1975-2007) and was only surpassed by Burj Khalifa in 2008 and then by Canton Tower a year after.

After Burj Khalifa became the world’s tallest freestanding structure, the Guinness re-classified the CN Tower as world’s tallest freestanding tower. However, it was soon topped out by China’s Canton Tower (604 m) in 2010.

The record was again broken in 2011 by Tokyo Skytree multipurpose tower. At 634 m., it’s currently the tallest tower in the world.

11. The EdgeWalk

In 2011, to celebrate the 35th anniversary, the CN Tower initiated the EdgeWalk program, in which visitors can walk outside, around the edges of the tower’s main pod 356 m above the ground.

10. Tallest Radio Mast Around the World

The CN Tower is not the tallest radio tower in the world, however, they are all held by guy wires or supporting ropes. The biggest supported tower is the KVLY-TV mast situated in Blanchard, North Dakota. Another large tower is the Petronius Platform in the Gulf of Mexico, which stands 610 meters.

9. World’s Highest Wine Cellar

The CN Tower features the world’s highest wine cellar. Located at a height of 351 m above the ground, the CN Tower’s “Cellar in the Sky” is truly one of a kind. It closely resembles a typical underground wine cellar featuring temperature control, cherry double doors and about 9000 bottles of wines.

8. Has One of the World’s Highest Observation Deck

skypodThe SkyPod   Image Courtesy: Matthew Henry

At 447 meters, the CN tower’s observation Deck known as the SkyPod is one of the highest observation decks in the world. The SkyPod had held the title for the highest viewing platform, since its construction in 1976, but was later replaced by Shanghai World Finance Tower (492 meters observatory) in 2008. Two more observation decks are there, one at 346 meters and another at 342 meters above the ground.

7. The Glass Floor of Observation Level

Glass floor CN tower

Located in the lower observation deck about 342 m above the ground, the tower’s Glass floor is among the highest glass bottomed decks in the world. The entire structure is made up of multiple layers of toughened glass, which is as much as 5 times stronger than any standard commercial floors.

It was the world’s first such structure when inaugurated in 1994. According to their website, the glass floor can withstand the pressure of 35 moose. FYI, one adult male moose have a weight somewhere between 350-700 kg.

6. Intelligent Lightning

The tower is also known for its bright and color changing lights. About 1,330 LED lights are installed in the elevator shafts of the tower from the bottom to the main pod, and then all the way up to the antenna. The lighting scheme is changed on holidays and important occasions.

During the bird migration seasons (spring and Autumn), these lights are usually dimmed-out in order to prevent birds from getting injured.

5. It’s One of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World

No, the CN Tower is not among UNESCO’s designated world wonders, instead it is classified as such by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Other structures that share the title are the Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco), the Panama Canal, the Channel Tunnel or Chunnel (Under English Channel), the Empire State building, the Itaipu Dam (on Paraná River) and the Delta Works in The Netherlands.

4. One Can Observe Niagara Falls From Tower’s SkyPod

On a clear day, you can see the famous Niagara Falls from the tower’s SkyPod, its highest observation point. Several points along the Niagara Escarpment in the United States are also visible from the SkyPod. Similarly, the tower is visible at least from Oshawa 60 km away in the west of Toronto and from Kennedy Street, Ontario about 40 km away in North.

3. B.A.S.E Jumping From the Tower

Back in 2015, just a few weeks before the inauguration of 17th Pan American Games, two professional BASE jumpers from France named Vince Reffet and Fred Fugen jumped from the top of the tower. They landed safely on land with the help of parachutes.

2. The Tower is Subject to Periodic Lightning Strikes

CN Tower lightningThe CN Tower Struck by lightning  Image Courtesy: Raul Heinrich

Toronto’s CN Tower is one of the biggest lightning rods in the world. It experiences about 70 to 80 lightning strikes every year. But on some occasions this number can even be higher. One such instance occurred in 2011, when the tower encountered 52 lightning strikes in less than two hours.

According to Ali Hussein, a professor at the Ryerson University, the tower is extremely close to low clouds, which generally carries a negative charge, and that creates a high electric field around the tower’s antenna. The lightning strike, however, doesn’t harm the structure or anyone in it.

Read: 22 Exceptional Glass Buildings From All Over The World

1. There is a Time Capsule Embedded In the Tower’s Wall

In 1976, during the tower’s inauguration ceremony a time capsule was placed inside one of the walls. The time capsule carries some of the memorabilia from the event inducing congratulatory letters from the then Canadian Prime Minister and Provincial Premiers. It also include few copies of national newspapers like the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail. The official opening of the capsule is scheduled in 2076.

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