The CN Tower’s real purpose is to bolster Canadian telecommunications

The Canada National Tower. The Canadian National Tower. The thing that’s on that one Drake album cover.

Whatever you call it, there’s no denying that the CN Tower is one of the most famous landmarks in Canada, if not the world. It’s appeared in countless movies, television shows and ads, and it serves as a symbol of both the city of Toronto and Canada as a whole.

What some might not know — or what many might forget — is that the CN Tower’s original purpose was to serve as a telecommunications tower.

“Now it’s both telecommunications and tourism, but it still plays a major role in telecommunications services in downtown Toronto,” said Jamil Mardukhi, a principal at NCK Engineering and the CN Tower’s lead structural engineer, in an interview with CBC News.

While the tower today is mostly known as a tourist landmark — with visitors from all over the world flocking to experience the EdgeWalk, Glass Floor or revolving restaurant — 30 television and FM radio stations from across Southern Ontario rely on antennas within the CN Tower to broadcast their signals everyday.

Additionally, many other television stations and FM and AM radio stations rely on the tower to amplify transmission signals.

The CN Tower’s been in the news recently due to a fire on August 16th that started within the broadcasting antennae.

Thankfully, Toronto emergency crews were able to extinguish the fire before any substantial damage was done.

Interestingly enough, Mardukhi told CBC News that fires aren’t the greatest concern. Instead, it’s lightning that worries engineers.

Still, Mardukhi did say that there’s “enough lightning protection so that all the energy coming from lightning strikes is absorbed and taken down to the ground so it won’t cause any damage.”

Mardukhi also said that the tower’s construction prevents it from being able to burn to the ground.

Interested in learning more about the CN Tower? Here are some interesting facts:

  • The CN Tower is 553.3 metres tall. When construction was completed, it was the world’s tallest free-standing structure. It held that record for 32 years before being dethroned by the Burj Khalifa and Canton Tower. Today, it’s only the world’s 8th tallest free-standing structure.
  • The tower’s lead architect, Australian John Andrews, also helped design Scarborough College (now the University of Toronto Scarborough) and the University of Guelph’s South Residence.
  • The CN Tower attracts more than two million visitors every year.
  • The tower’s name comes from Canadian National, the railway company that original built it. Ownership of the tower passed to Crown corporation Canada Lands Company when Canadian National was privatized, but the name was kept because it had, by then, already entered common usage.
  • The American Society of Civil Engineers included the CN Tower in the list of the modern Seven Wonders of the World, in 1995.
  • Construction of the tower began in 1973 and concluded in 1976. It cost $63 million to construct.

Image credit: Umair Khan via Flickr

Source: CBC News

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