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The story of Calgary’s most famous structure, as told through photos and fun facts

Posted in Newsworthy, Recreational

The story of Calgary’s most famous structure, as told through photos and fun facts

Ah, the Calgary Tower… the city’s most iconic building, for better or worse. To mark its belated 46th birthday, we’ve rounded up a collection of (mostly) historic photos and fun facts of the tower that Vice magazine once described as looking like “someone hucked an old Campbell’s soup can on top of a concrete pillar.”

Originally named the Husky Tower, the tower was conceived as a joint venture between Marathon Realty and Husky Oil. It cost $3.5 million to build.

Ca. 1968


Photo: Calgary Tower

The Husky Tower was the tallest structure of its type (free-standing tower) in North America when it first opened on June 30th, 1968.

Ca. 1969


Photo: Calgary Public Library

While it was under construction, developers claimed the tower would be only 614 feet tall in hopes of preventing competing projects from surpassing its height record. After construction wrapped up, the City of San Antonio promptly built a tower that was 623 feet. Only when the San Antonio tower was finished did the City of Calgary revealed that its tower was actually 628 feet.


Photo: Calgary Tower

The architect of the Calgary Tower was as cagey as the developers were about its height. The late Bill Milne did not like to have his photograph taken and never publicly revealed his age.

Ca. 1975


Photo: imgur

The tower was built on the site of Canadian Pacific Railway’s station, which was demolished in June 1966 to accommodate the Palliser Square project and the Husky Tower.

Ca. unknown


Photo: Calgary Public Library

Was officially renamed the Calgary Tower on November 1st, 1971 as a tribute to the citizens of the city.

Ca. 1974


Photo: Bernie/Flickr

It was Calgary’s tallest free-standing structure from 1968 until 1983 when it was surpassed by the Suncor Energy Centre’s west tower.

Ca. late 1980s

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Photo: Calgary Public Library

Today it is the sixth tallest building in the city and 21st in all of Canada.

Ca. unknown


Photo: Calgary Public Library

The tower stands 628 feet above the ground and 4,028 feet above sea level.

Ca. unknown


Photo: Calgary Public Library

Is a founding member of the World Federation of Great Towers, which includes such famed structures as the CN Tower in Toronto and the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

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Photo: Calgary Public Library

Although Calgary is not an earthquake zone, the building was the first in the Western provinces designed to withstand earthquakes. On a windy day the tower can sway up to 16.5 centimetres (7.5 inches) and can withstand winds up to 161 kilometres per hour.

Ca. 2012


Photo: Nigel Midwinter

In October 1987, a helicopter installed the world’s largest Olympic torch on top of the tower. The $525,000 project was a gift from Olympic sponsor Canadian Western Natural Gas.

Ca. 1987


Photo: Howard Kilgour/Flickr

When lit, the flame is visible 15 to 20 kilometres away and requires 30,000 cubic feet of natural gas an hour.

Ca. 1988


Photo: woychukb/Flickr

In 2005, a glass floor was installed on the Observation Deck as a gift to the province on its centennial. Spanning 36 feet wide by 4.5 feet, visitors can stand over 9th Avenue SW and Centre Street North.

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Photo: imgur

Want more historic photos and fun facts on the Stampede City? Check out our pictorial look at Calgary’s ever-evolving skyline and these 16 photos of the city from the air and space.

Story by: Michael Aynsley