Saturday, October 13, 2007

Toronto's CN Tower and other things...

The CN Tower in all its glory!

We were there!

Whenever a photo appears featuring the Lake Ontario's north shore profile of Toronto's city center, the CN Tower in all her majesty is what tourists may recognize first and foremost with this landmark defining the downtown core as the most recognizable and celebrated icon .

No visit to Toronto would be complete without attempting to take in this major attraction, one such place where those who fear heights just have to go beyond the thought and rise above, literally.

Walking down Front Street to the CN Tower

The CN Tower was obviously easy to find, just look up and there it is! Any visit to the city will allow for this featured landmark to become a GPS system of sorts, a southern downtown co-ordinate for compassing our way around the city

Commuters have various options,
one being the green Go-Trains shown here.

It lays directly south of the entertainment and main transportation commuter area, all three major transportation commuter services located directly below and a bit east of it. The three major commuter transportation systems are incredibly busy, jam packed at the business day’s end, something we witnessed viewing with the hundreds of folks heading towards it all near the dinner hour. We found the transportation system around the downtown core most interesting and very efficient for getting around. No wonder many folks prefer commuting via these methods instead of driving their own vehicles! Aside from the obvious trolley car and bus systems, these methods also meet and greet the daily commuter rush hour with the VIA Rail trains, the Go-Trains and the underground subway system.

One such noted "PATH" signage on a building.

As we toured around the town we noticed signs noting the "PATH system" on business buildings directing commuters to the underground walkways for the transit systems, apparently used most often during cold winter weather periods, rather than walking above ground to their transportation destinations. With so many people gathering and heading for the stations, it was hard to imagine just how many folks are ushered into town each day. As well there are many other underground systems for folks to proceed to the buildings, protecting them from plummeting frigid temperatures or hot and humid upswings in any season. The CN tower offers both systems for tourists, domed window walkways, or outdoor sidewalks as well, your choice on how you wish to get into the entry areas.

Train tracks? Nope - Trolley car tracks!

Of course, I mention these transportation systems mostly because any visit to a major metropolitan city is not only fun to browse the city’s tourist areas, but also to take a few moments to sit or stand and just entertain the possibility of time spent “people watching” along the way. While doing so, simply observing the city life will give the tourist an informative viewpoint on the diversity of people encompassing the city’s population tallies.

It was most interesting to note the various walks of life, the hustle and bustle of the business section in the city, a more casual flair deep in the heart of the entertainment area, and yet another change when viewing the university and hospital core areas. How unique to see the old architecture and residential housing easily blending in with the new and modern structures.

Home to; Toronto Maple Leaf hockey, and Toronto Blue Jay baseball

Famed sculptor showing Toronto fans in action.

Heh, the Vancouver Canucks have played here!

The CN Tower is also a landmark location to find the Rogers Center, home to the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team and the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team. When there is a baseball game in session, the entire rooftop opens up to the skies above and always for outdoor play within the building’s structure, weather permitting of course. We wondered if there was a sport game in session while we would be in the city, and found out no there wasn’t. Too bad.

Look up! Look WAY UP!

Hail, hail, the gangs all here!

When venturing forth towards the CN Tower, its majesty appearing more and more majestic with each step taken closer to it, and we observed other tourists begin taking sudden big gulps of breath, acting calm and cool about entering the main base entrance area. We even saw great fear in some folk's faces, some of our kids too.

Shortly after paying our fees for entrance into the facility, all visitors are then ushered through a security system similar to that of an airport, with bursts of air moving from over one’s head down to their feet. In recent years terrorist activities have included mentioning this specific landmark as a target plot, thus the security is constantly accessed and reaccessed here. None of us was expecting the sudden blasts of air in our faces, giggling a bit from the effects and I queried about this system once I was through only to find it was a system security measure for seeking out bomb devices and other such horrible items. Thank goodness they do this test! Thank goodness as we were about to enter the elevator whisking us upward to 1,135 feet above the ground to the main observation area. The elevator is so swift, it took less than one minute to get to the observation and restaurant area.

Someone wasn't loving this
landmark much from up here.
Can you guess who it was?

Glass bottom floor - yikes!

A mere 136 floors up!

The glass floor on the observation deck was attracting many to walk, jump and sit upon it's glass sections. When built, it was tailored to stand the weight of 17 elephants over top, but one wonders when many people begin to bounce up and down at incredible paces...what if?

With 4 lookout levels the view of Toronto just gets better the higher you go, but alas, we had a few with us who just weren’t that brave. Being that my hubby and one daughter wished continue skyward to the next level, better known as “Sky Pod”, they proceeded to another set of elevators to get their fix.

Where the brave did dare go - the SKY POD deck higher up!

Until last year the CN Tower was the highest building in the world, reaching dizzying heights of 1,465 feet above the base of its structure.

It was fun to note some of the many facts listed during our visit.

CN Tower Trivia;

  • Did you know the CN Tower is struck by lightning an average of 74 times each year? This wasn't particularly inviting as we'd heard the weather forecast was calling for a possibility of thunder showers in Toronto this day. Actually, this made one son feel absolutely horrified of the very thought of being here if thunder struck.
  • Did you know the CN Tower at 553.33 M (1,815 ft. 5 inches), it was the world’s tallest building until last year?
  • Did you know the SkyPod highest tip can bend up to four feet in any direction with high winds?
  • Did you know there is a lovely restaurant and if you make reservations to have a meal there, your entry fee to the tower is free?
  • Did you know there is a 360-degree view from the restaurant as it turns every 72 minutes while you dine and enjoy spectacular views without even leaving your seat? Oh sure, there are other towers we’ve been inside for dining in. Three other towers come to mind; Seattle, Vancouver’s Cloud Nine restaurant in the Sears tower, and Calgary has one too which we’ve dined in with dear friends.
  • Did you know in 1995, the CN Tower was named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
  • Did you know twice a year, two major fundraisers from the United Way, and the World Wildlife Fund use the CN Tower’s staircase for the dedicated stair climbers involved in them, all for the sole purpose of raising funds in the millions? Piece of cake right? NOT! There are 1,776 stairs to climb!