CN Tower

In Toronto, Canada's largest city, the CN Tower rises like an exclamation point. This single structure boasts a number of superlatives:

  • World's tallest building and free-standing structure
  • World's longest metal staircase
  • World's highest wine cellar (It is located in a restaurant whose floor rotates once every 72 minutes to give diners a view of the city below.)

Incredible City Skylines
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Canada's CN Tower rises 1,815 feet, 5 inches high and pierces low clouds.
© Photodisc
At 1,815 feet, 5 inches high, the
CN Tower pierces low clouds.
See more pictures of city skylines.

The tower stands 1,815 feet, 5 inches high, or the equivalent of 12 Statues of Liberty stacked on top of each other. (And while we're making comparisons, it weighs 130,000 tons, equal to 23,214 large elephants.)

Opened in 1976, the tower was developed by Canadian National, a railroad corporation, as a way to show off to the world that Canada had the industrial strength to construct such an engineering marvel. It has made Canadians proud ever since.

The tower also serves a practical purpose. After a 1960s building boom in Toronto, broadcasters found that their transmission towers weren't tall enough to send signals above the new skyscrapers, and the city's television and radio reception declined. The CN Tower, with its microwave receptors and antennas, cleared up the problem.

From the base of the tower, visitors are whisked aloft on six high-speed elevators with gasp-inducing glass fronts, traveling at 15 miles per hour and taking just 58 seconds to reach the Look Out level at 1,136 feet. Just one level below this, a glass floor puts Toronto literally at your feet; you're looking 1,122 feet straight down! (Relax, the glass floor is plenty strong -- it could support 14 large hippos.)

A separate elevator makes the final ascent of another 33 stories to the Sky Pod. From here, at 1,465 feet, you can enjoy a view of more than 100 miles in every direction, taking in Toronto, Lake Ontario, and even Niagara Falls on a clear day. At the top of the tower, observers can actually look down on airplanes approaching the city airport.

One final comparison: If you stacked Canadian dollar coins, which Canadians call "loonies," as high as the CN Tower, they would total $283,205.

Here are links to dozens of other world-famous landmarks:

Abu Simbel, EgyptEiffel Tower, FranceThe Leaning Tower of Pisa, ItalyRoman and Georgian Bath, England
The Alhambra, SpainEllora Caves, IndiaMachu Picchu, PeruSt. Mark’s Basilica, Italy
Angkor Wat, CambodiaThe Forbidden City, ChinaMont-St.-Michel, FranceSt. Paul’s Cathedral, England
Arc de Triomphe, FranceThe Golden Pavilion, JapanNeuschwanstein Castle, GermanySt. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, Italy
Borobudur, IndonesiaThe Great Buddha, JapanPalace of Versailles, FranceShwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar
Chartres Cathedral, FranceThe Great Wall of China, ChinaThe Pantheon, ItalyStonehenge, England
Christ the Redeemer Statue, BrazilGuggenheim Museum, Bilbao, SpainThe Parthenon and the Acropolis, GreeceSydney Opera House, Australia
CN Tower, CanadaHagia Sophia, TurkeyPetra, JordanThe Taj Mahal, India
The Colosseum, ItalyHouses of Parliament, EnglandPompeii, ItalyThe Temple at Karnak, Egypt
The Dome of the Rock, IsraelThe Kaaba and Al-Haram Mosque, Saudi ArabiaPotala Palace, ChinaThe Terra-cotta Army, China
Easter Island Statues, ChileKrak des Chevaliers, SyriaThe Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx, Egypt
Edinburgh Castle, ScotlandThe Kremlin and Red Square, RussiaPyramids of the Sun and Moon at Teotihuacán, Mexico

To learn more about Canada and other vacation destinations, see:


Jerry Camarillo Dunn Jr., has worked with the National Geographic Society for more than 20 years, starting as a staff editor, writer, and columnist at Traveler magazine, then writing travel guides. His latest work is National Geographic Traveler: San Francisco. Dunn’s Smithsonian Guide to Historic America: The Rocky Mountain States has sold more than 100,000 copies. His travel pieces appear in newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune and The Boston Globe. Jerry Dunn's stories have won three Lowell Thomas Awards from the Society of American Travel Writers -- the highest honor in the field. He also wrote and hosted a pilot episode for a travel show produced by WGBH, Boston's public television station.