The History of Skylon Tower
As one of Niagara Falls’ most iconic landmarks, the history of Skylon Tower is about as amazing as the structure itself. We invite you to learn a little more about the exciting history of the area’s tallest tower and best views of Niagara Falls.
The Skylon Tower stands five hundred and twenty feet high (a full seven hundred and seventy-five feet above the base of the falls). The Toronto architectural firm Bregman and Hamann designed the Skylon Tower, modelling it after the Space Needle in Seattle.
The tower’s impressive height has presented some unique challenges. Its height and proximity to the international border meant that both Canadian and American air transport authorities needed to be consulted before construction began. Another unique concern was wind. Experts from the University of Toronto helped design the tower to withstand winds of up to one hundred and ten miles per hour. So far, the highest winds the tower has faced have been ninety-one miles per hour. The height and design is a great architectural feat, but the views are more breathtaking when you witness a 360° bird’s eye view of the Falls in the Revolving Dining Room.
Builders used the “slip form” technique to construct the Skylon Tower, which had previously been used on the Seagram Tower. In this technique, concrete is continuously poured into a moving form. In constructing the Skylon Tower, concrete was poured continuously for thirty-eight days. What really made the construction of the Skylon Tower unique is the tower’s tapered shape. As the slip form raised it had to be proportionally reduced in diameter. This was the first time such a technique had been attempted.
Another great challenge was the construction and placement of the dome on top of the structure’s shaft. The dome needed to be constructed at the base and then was raised three hundred and eight feet to the top, using hydraulic jacks and jacking rods. All this was accomplished in only eight days.
Here are some notable moments in the Skylon Tower’s history:
October 28th 1964: The Skylon Tower is officially named. Company president Edward Bull Jr. explained that the name was inspired by the tower’s appearance as a “space aged version of a skyscraper”.
May 21st 1965: A fire erupted at the base of the tower. The fire was contained to a six-thousand-foot area and did a total estimated damage of five thousand dollars.
September 31st 1965: Skylon Tower officially opened and Canadian Pacific Hotels held the contract to open dining locations in the tower.
August 7th 1974: The first annual Skylon Marathon between Buffalo, New York and Niagara Falls, Ontario was announced by Skylon Tower.
October 1st 1975: Canadian Pacific Hotels purchased the Skylon Tower complex for eleven million dollars.
June 21st 1985: Two unidentified men parachuted from the top observation deck of the Skylon Tower.
1986: Two Niagara Falls businessmen purchase the Skylon Tower complex.
June 2nd 1986: David Hicks became the 3rd person to successfully parachute from the observation deck of the tower.
1999: At least five people parachuted from the observation tower.
Watch the History of the Skylon Tower and Tourism in Niagara Falls