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Skylon Tower, Niagara Falls, Canada

May 5th, 2006 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

The Skylon Tower, in Niagara Falls, Ontario is a building that overlooks the Horseshoe Falls from the Canadian side of the Niagara River. Construction on the building began in May of 1964 and was completed on October 6, 1965. The Skylon is a well known feature of the Niagara skyline, but since the hotel building boom of the late 90s, many similarly sized competitors have challenged its role as a unique vantage point on the falls.

Standing at 160 meters (520 feet) from street level and 236 meters (775 feet) from the bottom of the falls, the tower required approval from both Canadian and United States air transport authorities due to its proximity to the international boundary. At the time of its construction the Skylon Tower was owned by the privately owned Canadian company, the Niagara International Centre and housed international exhibitions. Canadian Pacific Hotels owned the tower-top restaurants, and purchased the complex outright in 1975. The tower's summit features a verdigris-green copper roof similar to CP's other properties, including the Château Frontenac in Quebec City and the Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alberta. CP owned and operated the building until 1986, when it was sold to local hotel interests. In 1988 local hotel owner George Yerich purchased the tower and the surrounding complex.

See also Niagara Falls waterfalls, satellite photos, videos

The tower features three outside mounted "Yellow Bug" elevators. At the time of their construction they were the first such elevators in Canada. They were designed, engineered and maintained by a division of the Otis Elevator Company from Hamilton, Ontario and can carry passengers to the top of the tower in 52 seconds. Unlike conventional elevators that are guided by side rails, the Skylon elevators operate with a guide rail on the backside only. Special equipment is employed to prevent the cables from becoming tangled in the wind or impeded by snow and ice in the winter. A curtain wall on the outside of the tower behind each elevator protects the counterweight and traveling cables from the elements.

The tower has two restaurants at its top, the lower Revolving Dining Room and the upper Summit Suite Buffet. The RDR seats 276 people and revolves once every hour (a 3 horsepower motor is required to rotate the floor). An observation deck sits at the tower's summit. The base of the tower features a number of gift shops, fast food restaurants and a large amusement arcade. A floor for conventions is also available, but has been seldom utilized in recent years.

While much redevelopment has taken place in the surrounding city, the Skylon complex still retains much of its look and feel from the 1970s and 80s. However the property has recently been expanded to include two Starbucks franchises and a bridge connecting the complex with the newly completed Fallsview Casino.

(Source: Wikipedia)

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