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|Written by Alexandra Trottier|
|Wednesday, 17 February 2010 00:00|
Ever since I was a little girl I have been in love with the CN Tower. It's what makes Toronto distinct from other cities, and it is a symbol of Canadian pride. Of course I didn't think about that when I was kid. I was simply amazed by the magnificence of the tower's height. Although I lived just outside Toronto in the suburbs, I remember being able to see the tower from my bedroom window. Every night before bed I would stare at it in awe. The fact that I could see something so far away amazed me, and I felt as though I could reach my hand out and touch it. Somehow that structure of cement and steel brought comfort to me. It was something I knew I could always rely on. No matter what else was going on around me I could look out my window and there it would be, almost smiling.
So I was more than a little disappointed when I heard a few years ago about the possible construction of a building that would surpass the height of my beloved tower. How was it possible? It couldn't be! Oh, but it would be. On January 4th, 2010 the Burj Khalifa was unveiled in the city of Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, and its height of 828 m (2,717 ft) was officially revealed.
After 31 years of standing 553.33 meters (1,815.4 ft) tall, the CN Tower was dethroned as the world's tallest freestanding structure.
But the Burj Khalifa may not be holding onto its title for very long. Dubai has already begun work on an even taller structure -- the Nakheel Tower.
While the building's foundation may almost be set, Dubai's economic foundation isn't as firm. The territory has been in financial trouble for the past couple of years, and an official declaration of bankruptcy made news headlines in late 2009. For that reason, construction work on the Nakheel Tower was halted earlier in the year. A Nakheel spokesman said work would resume in 12 months' time, but as of now no official start date has been set. If plans go well the Nakheel Tower will stand at an amazing 4,600 ft once it is completed. That's more than a kilometre high.
Dubai is not the only city getting in on the race. China, Korea, Japan, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have all set the foundations of colossal skyscrapers of their very own. While none compare to the height of the Burj Khalifa or its potential Nakheel competitor, they will certainly displace the CN Tower further down the list of the world's tallest buildings.
While I'm upset that the CN Tower may soon be regarded as a mediocre structure, what upsets me more is the fact that the tower never truly gained the international acclaim it deserved.
Wikipedia now lists the CN Tower as the world's third largest freestanding structure, placing the Tapei 101 from Taiwan in second place instead. Bill Baker, a structural and civil engineer who helped design the Burj Khalifa also made this factual error when he said, "We thought that it would be slightly taller than the existing tallest tower of Taipei 101..."
Tallest tower? The Taipei 101 sits at 509 meters (1,670 feet), more than 44 metres shorter than the CN Tower. You would think that a civil engineer such as Baker could do simple arithmetic. So, where is the confusion?
Unfortunately, there are different definitions for buildings, structures and towers, as well as different ways of measuring each category. Another issue is that the spires, flagpoles, and antennas on top of the CN Tower are often not included in its final tally. The funny thing is that both the Tapei 101 and the Burj Khalifa get a lot their height from huge spires that sit at their top. So why then should it be any different in the case of a Canadian tower?
I've noticed this discrepancy even before the unveiling of the Burj Khalifa. When Googling "tall towers," "tall structures," and various other word combinations, the websites and images that come up often neglect to include the tower that I love. If you want to find out how the CN Tower compares to other structures, you pretty much have to Google "the CN Tower" specifically.
I'm not sure why our tower has been so internationally ignored, but it doesn't help that our own tourism companies don't advertise its magnificence more dynamically. Here is an advertisement from a Canadian tourism company found in a London, England, train terminal. The tower is nowhere to be found anywhere in the poster, including a picture of the Toronto skyline!
I cannot blame Bill Baker for his ignorance of the CN Tower since we Canadians haven't even taken the time to recognize its significance ourselves.
To Canada's National Tower I must say the following:
You never found the prestige that you deserved. You have gone unnoticed by too many. The skyscrapers are going up all around us. I will go and I will visit them and I will find amazement in their magnificence. But just as you have always been there for me, sweet Tower, I will be there for you, and I will return home.
 Originally named the Burj Dubai.