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12 Awesome Facts About The Calgary Tower

One of the most fascinating towers in Canada can be found in the province of Alberta.

In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of facts about the Calgary Tower.

1. It’s located in the Downtown Core of Calgary

The Calgary Tower is one of the most remarkable landmarks in Calgary, a city located in the province of Alberta in the western part of Canada. It’s located in the Downtown Core region in the central part of the city, which is also home to the Central Business District.

Even though the tower has dominated the skyline of Calgary for multiple decades since the 1960s, the skyline of the city has changed significantly and numerous great skyscrapers have been constructed since.

calgary skyline

2. It originally had a completely different name

The idea for the tower came about when two companies, Marathon Realty, and Husky Oil, were building their headquarters in the city in the 1960s.

They got the inspiration for the tower from a similar tower that was completed a few years earlier called the “Skylon Tower” in Niagara Falls, Ontario, on the other side of the country. This tower was completed in 1965 and overlooks some of the most famous waterfalls in the world.

The design of both towers is pretty similar, and the tower was originally called the “Husky Tower,” in reference to the company that built it. It was eventually renamed the “Calgary Tower” on November 1, 1971, when Marathon Realty acquired the rights from Husky Oil that year.

One of the most remarkable facts about the Calgary Tower is that airport officials still refer to it as the “Husky Tower,” just to distinguish it from the tower at the Calgary Airport.

After all, they surely don’t want to mistake the two towers in the airport control room!

skylon tower niagar falls
The Skylon Tower / Larry Koester /

3. It was built in honor of a particular event in Canada’s history

Art-Facts Youtube Channel

While both companies that jointly commissioned the tower were building headquarters in Calgary at the time, they did decide to build the tower for another particular reason.

The main reason that the tower was built was to celebrate and commemorate Canada’s centennial of 1967. The celebrations of the 100th birthday of the Canadian Confederation lasted the entire year.

Calgary Tower fun facts
The tower / Qyd /

4. It took only 15 months for the tower to be completed

The timing of the construction of the tower wasn’t on point. Construction started on February 19, 1967, which means that the tower was still being built on Dominion Day, July 1, 1967.

One of the most fascinating facts about the Calgary Tower is that it took only 15 months for the tower to be completed as it was officially opened with multiple ceremonies on June 30, 1968.

In order to achieve this, they continuously pour concrete to build the foundation and the shaft of the tower for 24 days straight. This achievement was unprecedented at the time and was described as “an amazing feat of technical and physical workmanship.”

calgary tower facts

5. The tower was the tallest tower in North America upon completion

One of the most amazing facts about the Calgary Tower is that it became the tallest tower of its kind in all of North America upon completion in the year 1968, for a construction cost of $3,500,000 CAD.

It stands 190.8 meters (626 feet) tall which is much taller than the Skylon Tower which has an architectural height of 160 meters (520 feet). The tower in Niagara Falls also cost about twice the amount to build!

calgary tower interesting facts
Street view / Eileenmak /

6. It remained the tallest building in Calgary for 15 years

It’s almost unbelievable now but upon completion, the tower was also the tallest tower in Calgary and remained the tallest building in the city for over 15 years.

It nearly doubled the height of the previous tallest structure in the city, the highest building of the Elveden House, and was eventually surpassed in height by the Petro-Canada Centre’s west tower which was completed in 1983.

This just goes to show how much the skyline of Calgary has changed over the last couple of decades!

downtown calgary
Calgary Skyline / AceYYC /

7. People in San Antonio were tricked by the tower’s real height

While the Roaring Twenties caused the so-called “Race to the Sky” with both the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building aiming to become the tallest building in the world, the Calgary Tower was involved in a similar type of race as well.

In San Antonio, Texas, in the United States, plans were made to announce the completion of the tallest tower in the world in 1968. This tower, called the “Tower of the Americas,” has a height of 190 meters (620 feet), which surpassed the announced 187 meters (614 feet) of the Husky Tower.

When the height of the tower in San Antonio was officially revealed, the real height of the Husky Tower was announced, which is 190.8 meters (626 feet). This way they effectively fooled the developers in Texas into thinking they built the tallest tower in the world!

Both towers ended up being surpassed by the CN Tower in Toronto in 1976 which is nearly 3 times as high at 553.3 meters (1,815.3 feet).

cn tower toronto
The massive CN Tower in Toronto / Wiki Commons

8. It was built to withstand serious weather conditions

The tower weighs a whopping 10,884 tonnes, which is over 10.8 million kilos! One of the most interesting facts about the Calgary Tower is that 60% of that weight is located below the ground, meaning the tower has an extremely solid foundation.

This also means that the tower can easily absorb severe earthquakes and even hurricanes with winds over 161 kilometers per hour (100 miles per hour)!

calgary tower from Olympic Plaza
The tower from Olympic Plaza / Source

9. A torch was installed on top of the tower for the 1988 Winter Olympics

Calgary was the host of the 1988 Winter Olympics. In order to celebrate this event, the Canadian Western Natural Gas Company donated a massive natural gas-fired cauldron to the owners of the tower.

This cauldron was installed on top of the tower and basically turned it into a huge torch that could be ignited at any time. It was first lit to mark the opening of the games on February 13, 1988, and the fire burned for 24 hours straight.

After that, the fire was quickly put out because the torch consumes about 850 cubic meters (30,000 cubic feet) of gas per hour! Surely the donor, the company selling the gas, didn’t mind!

The flame is lit every now and then for special occasions.

calgary tower flame
Torch lit for the 2016 Olympics / Source

10. The revolving restaurant was added to the tower in the late 1980s

The tower underwent a series of renovations in the late 1980s which cost nearly as much as the construction of the tower itself. All of the upper levels of the tower were renovated for a price tag of $2.4 million CAD, and a popular tourist attraction was added to the tower as well.

This attraction is the revolving restaurant called the “Sky 360.” It completely rotates every 45 minutes and offers you one of the most amazing dining experiences in Canada!

Top of the calgary tower
Top of the tower / Source

11. The observation deck provides stunning views of Calgary

If you just want to enjoy the views, then there’s hardly any better place to do so than on the observation deck. Luckily you don’t need to climb the 802 steps leading up to the platform on top of the tower as 2 elevators can bring you there.

The observation deck not only offers stunning views of Downtown Calgary but also features a glass floor that allows you to look straight down 9th Avenue South and Centre Street.

If you dare, that is!

glass floor calgary tower observation deck

12. The tower can produce a light show with 16.5 million light combinations

The Skyline of Calgary looks amazing at night, and this was made even better ever since October 8, 2014, when the new lighting system started to be used continuously.

While there are only 12 lights on the crown and 24 lights on the top floors of the tower, these can produce over 16.5 million color combinations, resulting in the tower being one of the most fascinating landmarks of the night in Calgary.

And what an amazing sight it is, don’t you think?

Calgary Skyline at night