One of the most famous buildings in Canada is located in Downtown Toronto. The CN Tower is an icon for the city and one of the most recognizable landmarks in the country.
In this post, You’ll discover the ultimate list of facts about the CN Tower, one of the most amazing towers in the world!
1. What is the CN Tower?
The CN Tower is a concrete observation and communication tower located in the Downtown area of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
The CN stands for “Canadian National,” the railway company that came up with the idea for the construction of the tower.
Apart from serving its purpose until today as a communications tower for multiple media companies and numerous other companies, it’s also a popular tourist attraction due to its “Skypod.”
2. How tall is the CN Tower?
At 553.3 meters high (1,815.3 ft), the CN Tower was the tallest free-standing structure in the world for over 32 years. From its opening until 2008 it held this record until it was surpassed by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
It held the record for being the tallest tower in the world 2 years longer until it was surpassed in 2009 by the Canton Tower in the Haizhu district of Guangzhou, China.
At the moment, the CN Tower is still the tallest free-standing structure on land in the Western Hemisphere and the 9th tallest free-standing structure in the world. It will drop to place 10 though when the Jeddah Tower opens its doors.
3. Where is the CN Tower located?
The CN Tower is located in Downtown Toronto, the main central business district of the capital of the province of Ontario in Canada.
It is built on an area that is called “Railway Lands,” which was originally a railway switching yard until it got moved to a better location outside of the city. The land was previously owned by the Canadian National Railway.
Right now, the area is a mixed-use development area with for example the residential neighborhood CityPlace in the west and is home to the CN Tower and the Rogers Center, a large sports stadium.
4. Who built the CN Tower?
The Canadian Nation Railway is Canada’s largest railway company. It has the most revenue and the largest railway network and serves all of Canada and the south of the United States.
Since the 1960s, the company has been known as the “Canadian National” and was a government-owned corporation from its incorporation on June 6, 1919, until its privatization in 1995.
Apart from the railway network, the company also owns various other assets, including media companies, so it’s the Canadian National Railway who came up with the idea to build the CN Tower.
5. When was the CN Tower built?
The original idea of the CN Tower came in 1968. The Canadian National Railway wanted to build a large communication tower to better serve the Toronto area.
By that time, the Canadian National Railway was a massive corporation, and not very humble as well. So the other reason it wanted to construct a massive tower was to emphasize the strength of the Canadian industry and most particularly, the power of the CN.
The tower was also to serve as one of the world’s top entertainment destinations and achieve international recognition as the world’s tallest tower.
The plans developed over the years and became concrete in 1972 when both a design and location were proposed. After a period of thorough testing, construction of the towers started on February 6, 1973, and was completed in 1976.
6. Why was the CN Tower built?
Toronto was a booming city in the 1960s and early 1970s and a lot of tall buildings were constructed during this period. Multiple skyscrapers were constructed during this period in the Downtown Area of Toronto.
These tall buildings caused a huge problem as they severely lowered the quality of broadcast signals. Antennas of over 300 meters (980 ft) were already necessary to maintain coverage for everybody in the area.
The core idea behind building such a tall structure was to make it possible to rent out “hub space” for people owning satellite dishes, and for whom the new skyscrapers disrupted the signal.
7. The CN Tower can be seen from really far
Unsurprisingly for such a tall structure, on a clear day, the CN Tower can be seen from really far in all directions. It can be seen from:
- 40 kilometers (25 mi) to the north from Aurora.
- 60 kilometers (37 mi) to the east of Toronto in Oshawa.
- 58 kilometers (36 mi) southwest of Toronto from Hamilton.
- 40 kilometers (25 mi) west of Toronto from Milton.
- 48 kilometers (30 mi) to the south of Toronto from Fort Niagara State Park in the U.S. state of New York.
8. The Antenna wasn’t raised by a crane
The construction of the CN Tower was a massive undertaking. Especially the main level which required twelve steel and wooden bracket forms to be raised to the top.
For this, 45 hydraulic jacks were attached to steel cables that were strung to a temporary steel crown which was anchored to the top of the tower.
The final part was raising the massive antenna to the top, and this was supposed to be done by the cranes as well. Fortunately, the US Army offered a Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane helicopter up for sale during construction, which was subsequently bought and used.
The helicopter, which was named “Olga,” was first used to dismantle the cranes on top of the tower, and then flew the antenna, which consisted of 36 sections, up to the top of the tower.
9. The location wasn’t exactly what CN expected
The CN Tower was officially opened to the public on June 26, 1976. There was one problem though that the creators didn’t envision.
After the cancellation of the “Metro Centre” during the Tower’s construction, the CN Tower found itself standing lonely on the Railway Lands which had basically become an industrial wasteland. To make things even worse, the tower wasn’t very accessible to the general public.
It went this far that one of the project architects commented that “Under such ludicrous circumstances Canadian National would hardly have chosen this location to build.”
10. The area boomed afterward
The tower was standing lonely on the Railway Lands for several years, but things finally started to change in the 1980s.
In 1984, the Toronto Convention Center was built just next to the CN Tower, followed by the Rogers Centre in 1989.
The biggest change came with the completion of the construction of the Skywalk in 1989 which directly connects the CN Tower with the nearby Union Station railway and subway station, and also connects to the PATH, the city’s underground pedestrian system.
11. The CN Tower can be visited in 3 areas
The tower is one of the main tourist attractions in Toronto, attracting over 2 million visitors each year who want to get a glimpse of the amazing views and entertainment facilities the tower offers. The tower can be visited by the public in 3 sections:
- The Glass Floor and Outdoor Observation Terrace located at 342 meters (1,122 ft).
- The Indoor Lookout Level located at 346 meters (1,135 ft).
- The SkyPod located at 446.5 meters (1,465 ft).
12. The CN Tower’s Main Tourist Attractions
The main tourist attractions of the CN Tower are:
The Skypod observation deck
The Skypod observation deck is located at a height of 446.5 meters (1,465 ft) and offers you the most amazing views of Toronto.
The 360 restaurant
If you want to have a relaxing dinner at a height of 351 m (1,151.6 ft) then you can do so in the 360 restaurant in the CN Tower. This is also a revolving restaurant, offering you views of the entire Toronto area every 72 minutes.
The Glass Floor
If you’re not afraid of heights, then you can attempt to walk in thin air. The Glass Floor is an area of 24 square meters (258 sq ft) at a height of 342 meters (1,122.0 ft) that allows you to get the feeling that you’re doing so!
On August 1, 2011, the CN Tower opened the EdgeWalk, the perfect adventure for thrill-seekers. It allows anybody to walk on the edge of the roof of the CN Tower’s tripod at a dazzling height of 356 meters (1,168.0 ft).
More interesting facts about the CN Tower
13. The CN Tower has been declared one of the 7 wonders Of the Modern World, a list which was put together by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
14. The Canadian National sold the CN Tower before its privatization in 1995. Most of the funds were used to pay back the debt the company had accumulated over the years. The CN Tower is now owned by the Canada Lands Company, a federal Crown corporation responsible for real estate development.
15. The original plan of the tower would have been much shorter and included a tripod consisting of three independent cylindrical “pillars” linked at various heights by structural bridges. One engineer widely noted that “people would surely pay more for an observation deck that is located higher” so this was taken into account.
16. The construction of the CN Tower was done by the Cement Foundation Company of Canada, which is currently known as the Canada Cement Company. This is a subsidiary of Skanska, A Sweden-based international construction company that was also responsible for the construction of for example the Gherkin in London.
17. At a total height of 553.3 meters (1,815.3 ft), CN Tower is so tall that it’s the equivalent of a 147-story building.
18. The total cost to build the CN Tower was about CAD 63 million, which is the equivalent of about CAD 270 million today when calculating inflation.
19. Because of the rather slow start due to the cancellation of the development in the area in the late 1970s and 1980s, along with the fact that the CN Tower wasn’t easily accessible, it took about 15 years for the owners to recoup their investment, which is longer than they expected.
20. It took about 1,500 laborers to work around the clock for 5 days a week so the construction of the tower could be completed within 40 months.
21. The core of the CN Tower is a hollow concrete pillar that contains a staircase and 6 elevators. The elevators and the tower’s shaft are made of glass so you can see the Toronto skyline when moving up the Tower.
22. The Skypod observation deck was once the highest in the world until it was surpassed by the deck in the Shanghai World Financial Center in 2008.
23. On a clear day, you can see over 100 kilometers far. This would allow you to see Niagara Falls and all the way into New York State in the United States. Having good eyesight will surely help with this.
24. When standing on the glass of the Glass Floor, some people experience acrophobia. This is an extreme form of fear of heights that causes severe panic attacks. You better don’t get on the glass if you have a fear of heights!
25. If you’re into getting some exercise and do good at the same time, then the climb on the stairs might be something for you. It’s organized twice a year by the World Wildlife Fund of Canada and raises money for their cause. The target? Climb all 1776 stairs to reach the top!
26. A time capsule that contains a local newspaper of the opening day, letters from schoolchildren, a letter from then-Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Canadian coins and more, has been integrated into the walls of the CN Tower. Interesting note: The time capsule will be opened in 2076.
27. In tropical countries, the danger is falling coconuts from coconut trees. In cold countries, the danger is falling ice from a massive structure as the CN Tower. Storms in the winter can cause ice to form on the structure which falls like rocks in the morning sun. On April 16, 2018, the roof of the nearby Rogers Centre was damaged because of this phenomenon.
28. The CN Tower is the biggest lightning rod in all of Toronto. According to Geoffrey Coulson, an Environment Canada meteorologist, the CN Tower is struck by lighting about 75-80 times a year.
29. Stuntman Dar Allen Robinson, who broke 19 world records and set 21 “world’s firsts,” jumped twice from the CN Tower. The first time he was paid $250,000 and the footage was used for a scene in the movie “highpoint”, the second time he used the footage for a personal documentary. Remarkably for these stunts, he didn’t use a parachute but only a wire decelerator attached to his back. Watch this amazing footage here.
30. Toronto will soon be home to the tallest residential tower in Canada called the “SkyTower.” In fact, only the CN Tower will remain taller than this new 313.4 meters (1028 ft) which will be constructed in Downtown Toronto.
31. The CN Tower honored the late Kobe Bryant after his passing and colored in the colors of his team, the LA Lakers. Bryant died along with his 13-year old daughter and some friends in a helicopter crash while on their way to a basketball game.
32. The CN Tower is often used for fireworks displays. One of the most amazing displays was during the opening ceremony of the 2015 Pan American Games which were held in Toronto that year.