As a tower that rises far above all other buildings in Canada, the CN Tower is recognized as one of Canada’s most iconic landmarks. From 1975 to 2007, the building held the world record for the tallest freestanding structure. The building has been recognized for its iconic form and shape, forever impacting the skyline of Toronto, Ontario.
The reasons for building the CN Tower are rather practical rather than the reason that it would become an iconic landmark. The 1960s were a boom year for Toronto’s construction industry. Toronto transformed into a modern city in the second half of the 1960s.
As the city grew, the subway, TD Center, New City Hall, and expressways signalled and accelerated its development. Around 1 million people lived in the city in the 1950s. More than 2.5 million people lived in that area by 1970, an increase of 150%. Increasing numbers of people were moving to the big cities to live and work, making it necessary to build more skyscrapers and tall buildings.
As a result of the building boom and the building of taller buildings, the CN Tower was designed to address a telecommunications issue that started to occur. With the building of new slabs of concrete and steel structures, radio waves that travelled across the city at lower levels began to be interrupted. Signals and the ability to communicate were being interrupted – not a good sign for a young city.
CN Tower was built to solve this communication problem primarily through its role as a radio tower. Immediately after being completed, Toronto was widely acknowledged as having the best radio, television, and communication signals in North America.
Before the tower was even finished, the skyline of the city had changed dramatically. By this point in its construction, the building was already taller than any other building in the city.
A team of architects designed the CN Tower, including John Andrews, Webb Zerafa, E.R. Baldwin and Menkes Housen. It was built by the Canadian National Railway Company as a way to express the strength and power of Canada and its railways. The tower was designed originally to be a landmark of a major railway hub, but increasing concerns about telecommunications led the architects to come up with a structure that might solve the problem while still delivering the message desired by CNR.
The CN Tower began construction on February 6, 1973. For the foundation of the tower, 56 tonnes of earth were removed at first. The construction of the tower itself involved pouring concrete into a mould. The mould that was used for this project was a slipform mould that was supported by a ring of climbing jacks that were powered by hydraulic pressure. During the pouring and hardening of the concrete, the form tightened, shrank, and then slowly raised, creating the tower’s tapered appearance.
CN Tower in Toronto represents much more than a telecommunications tower since it has served as a radio and cell phone tower from the 1960s to today. As well as serving as a landmark for one of the most multicultural cities in the country, the Canadian National Railway Company built it to symbolize the strength of the Canadian economy.
Toronto is often referred to as the world’s most multicultural city.
Through its growth, the CN Tower has come to represent the essence of this city and its values. A true success story, the building of the CN Tower showcases a story of problem-solving, boundaries being pushed and impossible things being achieved. Considering its significance to Canadian culture and history, it makes no wonder that it continues to be a landmark today.