A Monument to Canadian Architecture

Towering above the Toronto, Ontario, skyline like a giant needle piercing the sky, the CN Tower rises 555.3456 metres (1,822 feet 1 inch) from the shores of Lake Ontario, entering itself into the record books as the world's tallest free-standing structure. (There are other taller stuctures in the world, but they are not self-supporting.)

Sprouting out of the earth like a three-pointed star, the 'steel-reinforced, lost-tensioned concrete' structure tapers to the base of the Sky Pod 365.76 metres (1,200 feet) above the ground. Glass-front elevators whisk visitors up the outside walls of the tower in just over one minute as they watch the earth disappear below them and the horizon stretch out before them. As they step out into the lower observation level, a 120 km (75 mile) vista greets them.

The Sky Pod is actually seven separate levels, including broadcast facilities, a revolving restaurant, and two observation levels. One level is fully enclosed for the more 'faint-of-heart' visitors, offering them at least a feeling of security, while the other is partially opened, allowing visitors to fully experience the sensation of dizzying heights by looking down along the 'Y' legs of the tower.

CN TowerLooking north, the city of Toronto appears as a scale model with the tallest skyscrapers pointing upwards far below. Toward the south (and during perfect weather conditions) the city of Buffalo, 158 km (98 miles) away as the crow flies, can be seen. To the west, the view extends beyond Niagara Falls to the shores of Lake Erie.

The restaurant, which seats 416, is the highest of it's kind in the world at 347.5 metres (1,140 feet), making one complete rotation every 90 minutes. Diners can enjoy a quiet meal while the city revolves below them.

Another elevator takes those ultra-brave adventurers another 91.5 metres (300 feet) above the Sky Pod where the view extends beyond 160 km (100 miles) on a clear day. This is the greatest height ever reached by elevator in the world.

Excavation began on February 12, 1973 and was 'topped out' on April 2, 1975. The 102-metre (335-foot) antenna mast was set into place using a giant Sikorsky helicopter making 53 lifts over three and one half weeks to give the CN Tower it's record-breaking title. The mast itself houses numerous antennas for Toronto area television and radio stations. To inhibit the accumulation of snow and ice, the mast is coated with a 3.8-cm-thick (1½-inch-thick) layer of a glass-reinforced plastic called 'radome'. This has the effect of turning heavy snow into a harmless powder.

Depite it's great height, the Canadian National Communications Tower is still extremely safe. The design is a result of the colaboration of architectural experts and designers from Canada, the United States, and Switzerland. Exhaustive tests have proven that the tower can withstand hurricane-force winds, earth tremors, and any effects of snow, ice, and lightning (which strikes the tower an estimated 200 times per year).

No visit to Toronto is complete without a visit to this record-breaking tower.