OTD: Toronto’s CN Tower opens to public

On June 26, 1976, the CN Tower opened to the public in Toronto, Ont., which was home to the world’s tallest freestanding structure (at 553 metres) until 2010, when a tower in Dubai took the honour.

In 2006, the Royal Canadian Mint struck a $20 Proof silver coin to mark the 30th anniversary of the tower’s opening. The coin, which weighs 31.1 grams with a 38-mm diameter, features a stylized holographic design of the tower during a lightning storm. It was the second issue in the Architectural Treasures series, following the 2006 Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal coin.

Designed by John Andrews International, the CN Tower was the world’s tallest freestanding structure and had the world’s highest public observatory until 2010, when Dubai’s Burj Khalifa officially took the honour.

The CN Tower has 147 floors from the internal staircase between the ground and the Skypod, the public observation deck near the top of the tower. Constructed by Canadian National Railroad, the tower was originally built to improve television reception. It cost $63 million to build.

Architect and Toronto alderman Colin Vaughan had this to say in the Globe and Mail after the opening in 1976: “The first disappointment comes at the main entrance. There’s no sensation of arriving at the base of a tall structure to be overwhelmed by the vision of the tower ahead. Instead you enter through a foyer boxed in with aluminum and glass shopping centre entrance doors. The foyer is roofed with an open truss, smeared with silver paint. Where is the tower? Who knows? … Undoubtedly the tower will draw millions of visitors who will come and gawk at the mechanical and electronic bric-a-brac and buy the CN tower – shaped rye bottles as souvenirs. But none will experience the unique sensation, the vertigo and the straight excitement which should accompany a visit to a structure of this scale.”

Despite opening to the public on June 26, 1976, the CN Tower’s official opening date was later that year, on Oct. 1.

Correction: The CN Tower actually opened to the public on June 26, 1976 (not June 25 as originally reported).

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