Calgary Tower

The Calgary Tower is a 190.8-meter (626 ft) free standing observation tower in Downtown Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Originally called the Husky Tower, it was conceived as a joint venture between Marathon Realty Company Limited and Husky Oil as part of an urban renewal plan and to celebrate Canada's centennial of 1967. The tower was built at a cost of $3,500,000 and weighs approximately 10,884 tonnes, of which 60% is below ground. It opened to the public on June 30, 1968 as the tallest structure in Calgary, and the tallest in Canada outside Toronto. It was renamed the Calgary Tower in 1971.

Calgary Tower
General information
TypeObservation tower, Attraction
Location101 9th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta
T2P 1J9
Coordinates51°02′40″N 114°03′49″W
Construction startedFebruary 19, 1967
OpeningJune 30, 1968
Cost$3,500,000 (1967)
OwnerAspen Properties[1]
Antenna spire190.8 m (626 ft)[2]
Technical details
Design and construction
ArchitectW.G. Milne & A. Dale and Associates

The building was a founding member of the World Federation of Great Towers.


Planning and construction

When Marathon Realty and Husky Oil built their new head offices in Calgary, they proposed building the tower both to honour Canada's centennial year of 1967 and to encourage urban renewal and growth of the downtown core.[3] The structure was designed by A. Dale and Associates, and was designed to withstand earthquakes and winds of up to 161 km/h (100 mph).[4] Construction began on February 19, 1967, and completed in 15 months at a cost of C$3.5 million.[5] The column of the tower was built from an unprecedented continual pour of concrete. Pouring began May 15, 1967 and was completed 24 days later at an average growth of 7.6 m (25 ft) per day, a rate that was praised by industry officials as an "amazing feat of technical and physical workmanship".[6]

Upon completion, the Husky Tower stood 190.8 m (626 ft) tall and was the tallest structure of its type in North America.[3] It dominated the Calgary skyline, standing well over twice the height of the previous tallest structure in the city, Elveden House.[6] Developers deliberately misled the public, claiming the tower would stand 187 m (614 ft), in the hopes of preventing competing developers from surpassing the Husky Tower's height record. Shortly after officials in San Antonio, Texas attempted to claim the record in announcing the completion of the 190 m (620 ft) Tower of the Americas, developers revealed the Husky Tower's true height.[7]

The Husky Tower officially opened on June 28–30, 1968, in three separate ceremonies.[5] It had two elevators that could take visitors to the observation level in just over a minute at a cost of $1 for adults and 50 cents for children under 13.[6] The observation level featured a lounge/restaurant called the Hitching Post.[8]

Later history

Marathon Realty acquired a controlling interest in the tower in 1970.[9] The structure was formally renamed the Calgary Tower on November 1, 1971 as a tribute to the citizens of the city. It is still called the Husky Tower by airport officials, however, to distinguish it from the tower at the Calgary International Airport.[5]

The Petro-Canada Centre's west tower overtook the Calgary Tower as the tallest structure in Calgary in 1983.[9] Until 2011, the 215-metre (706 ft) skyscraper was the tallest building in the city,[10] while the twin-towers of Bankers Hall, completed in 1989 and 2000 have also surpassed the Calgary Tower.[3] The Bow, completed in 2012, is now the tallest building in Calgary at 236 meters. Edmonton now has the tallest building in western Canada at 66 stories.[11] Encana Corporation, the owner of the Bow, was initially interested in purchasing the Calgary Tower when construction on the Bow began as a marketing attempt and also to house some corporate meeting rooms and offices inside, but the owners declined to sell.[12] A study conducted in 1982 proposed building an additional 85-metre (279 ft) shaft on top of the existing pod that would feature a second observation deck. The plan was never seriously considered, however, and the owners of the tower remain satisfied with its height.[13]

The tower underwent significant renovations between 1987 and 1990. The upper levels of the tower were closed in January 1987 for five months of construction that saw a $2.4 million refurbishment of the upper levels of the tower and the addition of a souvenir shop and a revolving restaurant that could complete a 360-degree turn in 45 minutes.[3] The lower level was renovated over the course of a year in 1990 and featured the construction of a glass rotunda to serve as the new lobby of the building.[5]

A natural gas-fired cauldron was constructed at the top of the tower by Canadian Western Natural Gas in October 1987 as a gift to celebrate the 1988 Winter Olympics.[9] The torch, which consumes 850 cubic metres (30,000 cu ft) per hour, was first lit on February 13, 1988 when the Games opened, and burned 24 hours a day throughout. It continues to be reignited for various special events, including Canada Day.[5]

The tower was a founding member of the World Federation of Great Towers in 1989 along with the Eiffel Tower, among others.[13] It celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1993, a year in which it topped 500,000 visitors for the first time.[3]

A glass floor extension was constructed on the north side of the tower's observation deck and opened on June 24, 2005. When standing on the glass, one can look straight down on 9th Avenue South and Centre Street.[14]

An LED, multicolour exterior lighting system was added and was first tested on August 1, 2014. 12 lights were added to the crown and 24 to the exterior floor. Each light has been programmed to be able to create over 16.5 million combinations of colour and lighting effects. It has been used since October 8, 2014, becoming a more noticeable part of the city skyline at night.[15]

On July 12, 2019, two of six elevator cables broke, sending 8 passengers inside it hurtling to the 4th floor. They were stuck there until the Calgary Fire Department rescued them. A month prior, senior citizens who had dined at the Sky 360 restaurant found the elevators to be inoperative after their meal. Despite having age-related physical disabilities, they decided to walk the more than 800 steps to the main floor.[16][17]


The Calgary tower features a revolving restaurant, Sky 360, that rotates so as to give customers a scenic view of downtown Calgary. The restaurant does a complete rotation every 45 minutes during the day and every 60 minutes in the evening.[18] The base of the tower is connected through the +15 skyway network to One Palliser Square, Fairmont Palliser Hotel and EnCana Place. Stairs to the observation deck are not opened to the public, but have been used on occasions for publicity, as well as for an annual charity stair-climbing race. There are 802 steps.[2]

The tower also features a carillon that was presented to the city by the local Dutch community in 1975 as part of the city's centennial celebrations. It was played daily at noon until removed in 1987 for storage.[19] The carillon has since been refurbished and restored to operation.

It is similar in design to the Skylon Tower in Niagara Falls, Ontario.


  1. "Calgary Tower". Aspen Properties. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
  2. Emporis Buildings. "Calgary Tower". Retrieved February 28, 2008.
  3. Fisher, Mike (June 27, 1993). "Towering tribute to landmark". Calgary Sun. p. 4.
  4. "Even hurricanes won't hurt Tower". Calgary Herald. June 22, 1968. p. 24.
  5. "History of the Calgary Tower". Archived from the original on March 6, 2010. Retrieved December 4, 2009.
  6. "Husky Tower puts Calgary on top". Calgary Herald. June 28, 1968. p. 21. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
  7. "Overnight growth kept city on top". Calgary Herald. June 28, 1968. p. 23. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
  8. "'Hitching Post' tag coined for lounge". Calgary Herald. June 22, 1968. p. 22.
  9. "Cornerstones: Calgary Tower". Calgary Public Library. Archived from the original on May 3, 2010. Retrieved December 4, 2009.
  10. "Suncor Energy Centre". Brookfield Properties. Retrieved December 4, 2009.
  11. Baker, Linda (January 2009). "A Boom in Office Towers in Calgary". The New York Times. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
  12. "Encana begins construction on the Bow". Encana Corporation. Retrieved January 2, 2012.
  13. Williamson, Kerry (August 1, 2001). "Landmark's glory overshadowed". Calgary Herald. p. A1.
  14. Stolte, Elise (June 25, 2005). "Glass floor 'a little scary'". Calgary Herald. p. B5.
  15. "Video: New, colourful shine put on the Calgary Tower | Metro News". Retrieved November 15, 2015.
  16. Condon, Olivia (July 18, 2019). "Calgary Tower elevators failed just weeks before cable snapped, trapping guests". Calgary Herald.
  17. Dormer, Dave (July 17, 2019). "Two of six cables snapped in Calgary Tower elevator mishap, investigation shows". CTV News Calgary. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  19. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 3, 2010. Retrieved December 4, 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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