Happy Birthday: Toronto’s CN Tower, Tallest Freestanding Structure In West, Turns 40

Torontonians are wishing happy birthday to the CN Tower, which was officially opened to the public on June 26, 1976, 40 years ago today.

The CN Tower is the tallest freestanding structure in the Western Hemisphere. The tower held the distinction of the being the tallest in the world from its opening in 1976 until 2010, when the Burj Dubai in the United Arab Emirates took on this distinction, as reported by the Torontoist. The total height of the CN Tower is 1,815 feet, 5 inches (553.33 meters).

When first opened, then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, father of current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, was on hand to mark the event, as well a pen a letter to future generations and seal a time capsule that is scheduled to be opened in 2076, on the 100th birthday of the tower.

Toronto is wishing happy birthday to the CN Tower today, 40 years after first being opened to the public in 1976.
The CN Tower will be celebrating its anniversary with special red and white birthday lighting, as reported by Can-India.

“Each night beginning at sunset the CN Tower features a standard lighting program in red and white, to honour Canada, with a short light show at the top of each hour. Lighting begins at sunset and concludes at sunrise the next morning except during spring and fall bird migration periods during which time lighting concludes at 11pm,” Can-India reports.

The CN Tower was originally conceived out of necessity as a way for radio and television stations to mount their antennas high enough to broadcast over the tallest buildings in Toronto. While the tower was seen as an obvious attraction for tourists, by 1996, the CN Tower had become so popular that two additional elevators were needed to keep up with the number of visitors.

Then, in 2008, one of the elevators was fitted with a partial glass floor, making it the world’s tallest glass-floored elevator and the first in North America.

Before the tower’s birth in 1976, crews worked 24 hours a day, five days a week, for 40 months until the project was complete. At one point, early in 1974, the crane that had been mounted on the top of the tower needed to be removed so that its 335 foot (102 meter) antennae weighing eight tons could be put into place.

However, “Olga,” the name given to the helicopter assigned to complete the task of removing the crane, became stuck to it, as a result of twisted and seized bolts, while only carrying enough fuel to remain airborne for 50 minutes. Workers were reported to have quickly scaled the tower, burning the seized bolts off just in time to save the helicopter, its operators, and the crane operator still inside, with 14 minutes to spare. It took another three weeks before the antennae was finally put into place. Other than this close call, Olga and her operators were reported to have completed the rest of their work on the CN Tower, “flawlessly.”

Torontonians are wishing happy birthday to the CN Tower today, 40 years after first opening to the public on June 26, 1976.
Many attractions have been added to the tower and the area around its base since 1976. In 1986, what is described as the “first flight simulator experience” in the world, Tour of the Universe, was opened to the public. In 1989, the home of the Toronto Blue Jays, the 50,000-person capacity SkyDome (later renamed Rogers Centre), was built at the foot of the CN Tower. The Blue Jays went on to win two World Series titles within the next four years, making Toronto sports fans very happy. In 2011, EdgeWalk, described as a “first of its kind experience” was opened. EdgeWalk features a 5 foot (1.5 meter) wide platform around the tower’s main pod, allowing users to stand with 1,168 feet (356 meters) of open air beneath them, described as an “adrenaline-fueled experience.”

Have you ever visited Toronto or the CN Tower? Do have any plans to celebrate the Toronto landmark’s 40th birthday?

[Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images]