CN Tower & SkyDome
301 Front Street West
• Opened 1976
Built by the Canadian National Railway Architect Ned Baldwin
Toronto’s tallest landmark at 550 metres, 1776 steps.
World tallest free stand tower for over 30 years!
Official name: Rogers Centre
1 Blue Jays Way
• Opened 1989
Architects: Bill Allen and Rod Robbie
World’s first retractable roof stadium.
The first of its kind in the world, t he 2.5 inches that makes up the glass floor at the CN Tower is so strong that it could hold up 85,000 lbs. or 14 hippos.
The name “SkyDome” came through a fan-naming contest (some of us remember submitting names!) T he winner, Kellie Wat son, has received two free ticket s t o every event will ever be held there.
The CN Tower is a major tourist destination, with over 2 million
visitors a year. It also broadcasts over 30 Toronto television
and FM radio signals across Southern Ontario in addition to
wireless paging and cellular telephone signals. Various features
have been added since opening. The very brave can test their
courage by walking across the glass floor. Others travel higher
up the tower to the Sky Pod, another 33 stories above ground.
Tower Rises Above the Sky
By the late 1960s, the City of Toronto desperately needed a new
transmission antenna because new skyscrapers were blocking
out aerial reception for televisions. The CN tower was planned
as both a telecommunications tower and a tourist attraction.
The original project included “Metro Centre”, a complex with
entertainment and sports venues but this would have included
the demolition of Union Station. Although the larger project
was stopped, the head of CN at the time proceeded with the
tower as it is today on CN’s rail yards. 15 years later, the idea of
building a sports venue was accomplished when the SkyDome
(Rogers Centre) was opened in 1989.
Once the main tower was completed, the final steps in February
1974 before the grand opening were truly dramatic. First, the
giant crane used during construction had to be removed, and
then a 102-metre steel broadcasting antenna had to be added to
the top. Project managers called upon Olg – a 10-ton Sikorsky
helicopter. Once the crane was gone, it took another 3½ weeks
until all the pieces of the antenna were carefully put in place.
When the final piece was hammered in by ironworker Paul
Mitchell on April 2, 1975, he danced a jig 1,815 feet above the
earth to celebrate!
As published in the National Post on Celebrating CN Tower’s
30th Birthday, “Waving to a crowd of thousands below, and
with a storm approaching, neither Mr. Mitchell nor the tower’s
architect, Ned Baldwin, imagined their masterpiece would
reign for three decades as the world’s tallest building.”
Built to Last
The tower is built to last – experts say 300 years or
more. The strength of wind that could blow it over
doesn’t exist, so it’s going to remain a distinct part of
our skyline for a long time!
The base of the tower sits on bedrock over 12 metres
below ground. But the real secret is inside the
structure. According to one of its architects, Ned
Baldwin, metal anchors secure post tension steel
cables inside the concrete. The cables run through
steel ducts in the tower’s hexagonal concrete core
as well as in ducts in the wings. At the base of the
foundation the cables are pulled tight. On a windy
day, the tower actually moves in an eclipse pattern,
somewhere between 1 and 4 meters.
Above all, the CN Tower is still the dominant feature
of Toronto’s skyline, our most defining landmark,
stretching over half a kilometre into the sky.
Alongside the CN Tower is SkyDome. Although they were developed at
different times, the two structures feel inseparable.
When it opened, SkyDome was the world’s first stadium with a retractable
roof and currently home to the Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Argonauts.
With Blue Jay fever hitting
Toronto this fall, many still do
believe that one of the SkyDome’s
finest moments was Joe Carter’s
World Series winning home run
on October 23, 1993.
In the mid-1980s, architects and
engineers were invited to submit
proposals in the “Ontario Stadium
Project” for the design and location
of a multiuse sports facility. The
winning entry from structural
engineers Bill Allen and Rod
Robbie proposed a circular stadium
with a retractable roof at
the base of the CN Tower.
At full capacity, the dome
seats 65,000 but it can
be adapted for concerts,
and before the Air
Canada Centre opened,
basketball. The roof has
always been one of its
more fascinating design elements. Made up of 4 sections, which
open in a smooth, circular motion, the north panel always remains
stationary. Covering 7 acres, it opens or closes in just 20 minutes.
Over the years, the building has changed ownership, most recently
purchased by Rogers Communications, owners of the Blue Jays.