The C.N. Tower…..And Chuck Norris!


3 minute read

November 21, 2011

In searching for photos of downtown Toronto before CityPlace, I got seriously side-tracked and spent an hour reading about the most famous landmark in our city.  Here’s what I found…

I guess I created a little bit of a stir over the weekend!

In February of this year, I was quoted in Eye Weekly saying that CityPlace is a “ghetto.”  Comments from angry (anonymous) readers poured in, and the article and its subject matter came under fire.  The article was controversial enough that a follow-up article was posted called, “Ghetto Fabulous.”

Later that week, I responded to the anonymous commenters with a blog post called, “The Friday Rant: CityPlace As A Ghetto.”  That article has been viewed over 100,000 times.

The term “ghetto” started to spread around, and last month, The Grid did a cover story about CityPlace and all that it (doesn’t have) to offer its residents.

The article in The Grid fanned the flames, and eventually the residents in CityPlace had enough.

This past weekend, they held their first ever “Town Hall Meeting” to discuss everything that CityPlace is……and will never be.

Even lefty-councillor Adam Vaughan came out to tout all the supposed benefits of living in the concrete jungle!

On Saturday night, a reporter from CityTV tracked me down and asked for a quickie interview for the 11PM news.  Truth be told: they just wanted me on camera using the word “ghetto.”  A ten minute interview was whittled down to seven seconds! 🙂

Off camera, the reporter, the cameraman, and myself discussed “what was there before CityPlace,” and it occurred to me that I’ve never posted any photos of the site before the first condo was built.

I spent quite a while looking for photos, and eventually I realized that the best way to find photos and videos of CityPlace before it was there was to look at what came first: the CN Tower.

The best photo I could find was a screenshot from a video about the building of the CN Tower.  Have a look:

Amazing!  There’s nothing south of Front Street!

Within a few minutes of searching through the never-ending Internet, I realized that I could care less about CityPlace – something I spend far too much time on anyways, and I was much more interested in the 1800 foot-tower.

First and foremost, I was very surprised to learn of the actual purpose of the tower.

Watching those “A Part of Our Heritage” commercials growing up, I was led to believe that the CN Tower was constructed merely as a method of “putting Toronto on the map.”  Not so, apparently.

The late 1960’s and early 1970’s saw far too many large towers built in the downtown core and not enough planning, and it was causing issues for television and radio stations that were unable to broadcast signals.  The transmission towers for most television companies weren’t tall enough, and as a result, consumers were unable to receive high-quality television reception.  We’ll have to explain to our kids one day what the world was like before digital TV, Rogers On Demand, and all the things we take for granted today…

Canadian National came up with the idea to construct a tower so tall that it would dwarf every other building in the city and allow for uninterrupted broadcast signals.

This was the reason for the tower itself.  I guess the notoriety was just a bonus!  Well, no, but it came in tandem with the “helpful” notion of constructing a tower that for today’s needs is unnecessary.  I wonder if they even broadcast signals from up there anymore…

The best video I found was in the CBC archives and shows the construction of the tower itself.

You have to figure that at some point, cranes just weren’t tall enough to build this tower, and they’d have to use helicopters.  But to see it on camera is something else!

Here is a six-minute, un-narrated video that shows the opening of the CN Tower, but more interesting is the construction of the tower about half-way through the video:

At the risk of spamming my own blog, I’m going to provide another link that I loved watching.

Here’s a stunt-man that jumped off the CN Tower – not once, but twice!

First he jumped from the tower as a stunt-double for a cheesy 1979 Canadian movie with a parachute, and then he jumped again with no parachute, but rather an elaborate pulley system that kept him from splatting onto the pavement like many water-balloons they tested during this video.

The best part is – the movie is narrated by Chuck Norris!

If my blog and I can’t entertain you on a Monday morning, then simply sit back and watch Walker Texas Ranger talk about “Toronto Canada” in his classic, tight blue jeans. 

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

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  1. Phil

    at 9:30 am

    I think not only CityPlace will end up being a ghetto for all the obvious reasons its residents, who themselves are unlikely to live there in 5 years, refuse to admit, the concrete jungle completely devoid of any design and appeal makes Toronto’s skyline a lot less attractive, particularly if you compare with Chicago’s magnificant waterfront buildings. I can’t think of one single reason why the city planners allowed our waterfront to be occupied by these hideous buildings which look exactly like any generic condo tower in a booming second or third tiered Chinese city.

  2. Nick

    at 9:54 am

    I live in CityPlace (renter thankfully) and think ghetto is a strong word, but you are correct that, combined with continuous traffic jams and limited public transit access, there is little reason for anyone to visit the CityPlace area. I rarely invite people over as it is such a hassle to get here and there is nothing to do in the area.

    And what is Adam Vaughan even saying when he defends the area? He claims there is a new library in the area, but I sure can’t find it on the TPL’s website.

    Despite how bad Cityplace is, you must agree that the skyline looks way better with it than just the wasteland from CN Tower construction days? And FYI The CN Tower does still broadcast TV and plenty of radio. If you buy an HD Antenna (or even make one yourself) you can pick up a bunch of HD channels that are actually better quality than through Rogers etc… as the signal is uncompressed. If you are south facing, you can pick up a variety from Buffalo as well, so 20-25 channels in all.

  3. George

    at 10:31 am

    The music in the second video is great. Poor Dar Robinson died a few years later while making an even cheesier movie…Million Dollar Mystery.

  4. Darren

    at 4:13 pm

    Phil: I can think of a very good reason. Money. All the fees from builders, all the extra taxes.
    I wanna puke every time I see those buildings (not just city place, all the condos along the lake). The lakeshore has been permanently ruined for the benefit of a handful of condo owners. The politicians that have allowed all of these buildings over the last decade or so should lower their heads in shame.

    And as Nick said, the CN tower broadcasts digital TV. TV through antenna has had a resurgence in the last few years and I use it exclusively. Goodbye Rogers and Bell!

  5. dogbiskit

    at 8:10 pm

    I used to work at the tower as a teen in the 80s. Holy crap did we ever have fun. One time we got the chance to quickly visit the donut area where all the transmission equipment is. Very cool.

  6. Truthfully Speaking

    at 7:50 pm

    If CityPlace becomes a ghetto, as has been predicted, you may as well accept Toronto’s reputation as a safe reputable beautiful city will also be completely destroyed. Every Toronto tourist I have ever met is very familiar with the Rogers Center, the CN Tower and all the condos surrounding the area. If their visits here are marked by homeless crackheads, we are completely finished. In fact, I have met plenty of Americans whose only Toronto experience (or Canadian experience in general), is either visiting the Rogers Center or seeing the birds-eye-view camera shot of the Rogers Center while watching a baseball game. As patriotic citizens, we need to start picketing now to stop the impeding doom. This is probably a bigger crisis on Canada’s public image than Celine Dion.

  7. Kelly Sykes

    at 11:38 pm

    Economic integration and foreign oil exports, gust at the towers completion hid CN Engineers intentions as pubic could see. 1979.

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