Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tower Over Toronto

Magnet # 277:  Downtown Toronto

Material:  Rubber

Purchased By:  Mom & Dad

The Canadian city of Toronto officially received its skyline's tallest and most distinctive structure on this day in 1976 when the CN Tower first opened to the public.  And although the official opening wouldn't be until October 1, this whopping tower would very quickly become a great source of pride for locals, who would have the tallest free-standing structure in their city for the next 31 years. 

The idea for CN Tower was brought about in 1968 by the Canadian National railroad company, who wanted create a structure that would provide television and radio communication for the Toronto area and emphasize the power of their company and the entire Canadian business industry.  By 1972, plans were underway to create a tower that would be higher than the many skyscrapers that were being built in the rapidly expanding downtown area, and thus able to send signals above these tall buildings.  Originally, a much smaller design consisting of three pillars was developed, but it was soon abandoned in favor of the design we all know.  By early 1973, construction had begun.  The most exciting part of this process was perhaps when a  helicopter flew parts of the antenna to the top of the tower, an event that brought in crowds of onlookers.  And by the time the CN Tower was completed, it had received quite a bit of attention, but it would soon become even more famous as tourists from all over Canada and the world came to see the gigantic structure.  Over three decades later, the Burj Khalifa - or Duabi - surpassed it in height, but the CN Tower remains beloved by the citizens of its town.  In fact, when it changed ownership, local support helped it to keep its name, although the CN is now said to stand for Canada's National rather than Canadian National.  Would that the Sears Tower had been so fortunate.

When I was younger, I ventured up to Toronto with my family and made it up to the Sky Pod over a thousand feet up from the ground.  The line to get to the elevator wasn't long and the view was incredible.  I still have copies of the photos I took from there and I remember being a little unnerved as I took one of them.  Part of the floor had been cut out and replaced with glass so it was possible to see the ground directly beneath.  Looking through it was not quite as relaxing as the views from the other windows because it was a reminder of just how high up I was.  But I had a fun time at the CN Tower, and in Toronto as well.  We stopped by Rogers Centre next door - although it probably would have been called the Astro Turf then - which is a huge stadium where the Toronto Blue Jays play, and had a look around at it.  We also saw another of Toronto's biggest attractions, Casa Loma, a lavish mansion built in the Gothic Revival style, which is almost a little like Asheville's Biltmore.  It's appeared in plenty of television shows and movies, like The X-Men, but unfortunately I don't remember much of our visit.  However, I definitely remember seeing the musical The Phantom of the Opera for the first time in Toronto and loving it.  Toronto truly is a unique place.  In fact, the city is actually one of the most diverse cities on the continent of North America, with residents from over 100 counties speaking over 100 languages.  And because of that, it has some wonderful ethnic locales, like Greektown, Little Italy, and Chinatown, where we had a fantastic Asian meal.  We really enjoyed ourselves there and my parents have even returned on another vacation since, which is great since they were able to get this magnet for me then.  I may give this great location another try myself someday, and if you haven't checked it out yourself, you might want to do so - let's face it, there are few places on Earth where you can get as high as you're able to get at Toronto's CN Tower.

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