On the Mediality of Two Towers: Calgary—Toronto

Ira Wag­man and Liam Cole Young

Abstract: This arti­cle uses the CN Tow­er and Cal­gary Tow­er to explore how the archi­tec­tur­al form of the tow­er pos­sess­es a num­ber of char­ac­ter­is­tics we typ­i­cal­ly asso­ciate with media tech­nolo­gies. To appre­ci­ate what we call “tow­er-medi­al­i­ty,” we start first with a brief dis­cus­sion of the schol­ar­ly lit­er­a­ture on tow­ers, high­light­ing that while much is said about tow­ers’ sym­bol­ic val­ue, lit­tle atten­tion has been devot­ed to think­ing of these forms in mate­r­i­al and infra­struc­tur­al terms. Then we turn to the Cana­di­an tow­ers them­selves, ask­ing, first, why they have received so lit­tle schol­ar­ly atten­tion, before sug­gest­ing some points of inter­sec­tion between archi­tec­ture and com­mu­ni­ca­tion research. Final­ly, we offer three registers—ritual, per­spec­tive, and spectacle—by which to explore the medi­al­i­ty of the CN and Cal­gary Tow­ers. In under­tak­ing this analy­sis, we attempt to expand the vocab­u­lary avail­able for under­stand­ing how tow­ers are plat­forms that medi­ate the tem­po­ral and spa­tial ele­ments of civic cul­ture and to invite fur­ther con­sid­er­a­tions of the medi­at­ing and com­mu­nica­tive work that occurs along the ver­ti­cal axis.

Résumé: Cet arti­cle exam­ine la tour du CN et la tour de Cal­gary afin d'explorer com­ment la forme archi­tec­turale de la tour présente un cer­tain nom­bre de car­ac­téris­tiques que nous asso­cions générale­ment aux tech­nolo­gies des médias. Pour appréci­er ce que nous appelons "tour-médi­al­ité" nous com­mençons par une brève dis­cus­sion de la lit­téra­ture sur les tours, et nous soulignons que si beau­coup de choses sont dites sur la valeur sym­bol­ique des tours, peu d'attention a été con­sacrée à la pen­sée de ces formes en ter­mes matériels et infra­struc­turels. Ensuite, nous nous tournons vers les tours cana­di­ennes elles-mêmes, en nous deman­dant, pre­mière­ment, pourquoi elles ont reçu si peu d'attention de la part des chercheurs, avant de sug­gér­er quelques points d'intersection entre la recherche en archi­tec­ture et en com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Enfin, nous offrons trois thèmes—rituel, per­spec­tive et spectacle—pour explor­er la médi­al­ité des tours du CN et de Cal­gary. Nous essayons d'élargir le vocab­u­laire disponible pour com­pren­dre com­ment les tours sont des plates-formes qui ser­vent d’intermédiaires entre les élé­ments tem­porels et spa­ti­aux de la cul­ture civique et pour inviter d'autres con­sid­éra­tions du tra­vail de médi­a­tion et de com­mu­ni­ca­tion qui se pro­duit le long de l'axe vertical.

Table of Con­tents | Arti­cle doi: 10.17742/IMAGE.OI.10.2.1 | PDF

Introduction: Two Images

In July 2001, two Green­peace activists—one British, one Canadian—scaled the CN Tow­er in Toron­to by mak­ing use of its steel main­te­nance cables. The ban­ner they unfurled from the obser­va­tion deck, near­ly 340 meters from the ground, claimed Cana­da and US Pres­i­dent George W. Bush as “cli­mate killers.” The act was timed to coin­cide with an inter­na­tion­al sum­mit on cli­mate change tak­ing place in Bonn, Ger­many, as a reminder to Cana­di­ans that both coun­tries had failed to rat­i­fy the 1997 Kyoto Pro­to­col. A CBC report at the time claimed that the activists were “reach­ing to the clouds to send a mes­sage about glob­al warm­ing” (“Tak­ing Greenpeace’s Mes­sage to the Skies” “Green­peace Activists Scale CN Tow­er”). Nine years lat­er, in 2010, Green­peace took to anoth­er icon­ic Cana­di­an tow­er. This time, activists hung a “Sep­a­rate Oil and State” ban­ner from the Cal­gary Tow­er so as to focus atten­tion on the rela­tion­ship between Canada’s gov­ern­ment and its oil indus­try cen­tered in Alber­ta ( “Anti-Oil­sands Protest Unfurled on Cal­gary Tow­er”). This effort was timed to coin­cide with the start of a meet­ing of Cana­di­an provin­cial pre­miers tak­ing place in Win­nipeg, Man­i­to­ba, near­ly 1300 kilo­me­ters away.

Fig­ure 1: Green­peace Activists Scale CN and Cal­gary Towers

These exam­ples, from two of Canada’s high­est spires, com­pli­cate the way tow­ers are usu­al­ly “read” as sym­bols of civic pride and iden­ti­ty, trib­utes to moder­ni­ty and mod­ernism, mon­u­ments to cap­i­tal accu­mu­la­tion, or mark­ers of pow­er. Giv­en its func­tion­al use in send­ing and receiv­ing broad­cast and tele­phone sig­nals, the CN Tow­er is some­times posi­tioned along­side oth­er forms of media infra­struc­ture that facil­i­tate com­mu­ni­ca­tion across time and space, such as radio and cel­lu­lar phone tow­ers. While sym­bol­i­cal­ly serv­ing as “the cathe­drals of a media soci­ety” (Von Bor­ries, Böttger, and Heilmey­er 12), such tow­ers also, accord­ing to Patrik Åker, sub­tly “inte­grate dif­fer­ent forms of media dis­tri­b­u­tion, their struc­ture express­ing de-mate­ri­al­iza­tion, the oppo­site of solid­ness and weight” (Åker 85). Shan­non Mat­tern sim­i­lar­ly traces the impor­tance of tow­ers and oth­er ver­ti­cal struc­tures like tele­phone poles, anten­nae, and radio masts to imag­i­nar­ies of mod­ern com­mu­ni­ca­tion, giv­en that they stand as traces of oth­er­wise invis­i­ble or “ethe­re­al” media net­works like radio. These arti­facts for con­ceiv­ing the incon­ceiv­able also pro­vid­ed inspi­ra­tion for visions of urban futures typ­i­fied by fig­ures like Le Cor­busier, Buck­min­ster Fuller, and Sam Jacob (Mat­tern 4-8).

But our two images show that tow­ers do both more and less than such read­ings imply. Most often, tow­ers serve more humbly as plat­forms for oth­er media to do their com­mu­nica­tive work. In these cas­es, each tow­er host­ed the writ­ing and icons of cloth ban­ners designed for polit­i­cal dis­sem­i­na­tion. In scal­ing their heights, Green­peace sought to lever­age each tower’s capac­i­ty for broad­cast with­in a local urban envi­ron­ment and to cre­ate a media event that would fur­ther expand the dis­tance by which the organization’s mes­sage was dis­sem­i­nat­ed. In both cas­es the tow­er, as plat­form, was tac­ti­cal­ly cru­cial. It is sur­pris­ing that very lit­tle has been writ­ten on how tow­ers serve in such capac­i­ties for var­i­ous forms of civic, sym­bol­ic, and even polit­i­cal communication.

Tow­ers per­form an array of medi­al func­tions at dif­fer­ent times across a spec­trum of com­mu­ni­ties and thus they can­not be reduced to any sin­gle mean­ing or func­tion (whether sym­bol­ic, archi­tec­tur­al, or com­mu­nica­tive). The con­cept of medi­al­i­ty, we argue, cap­tures the pro­tean nature of tow­ers and thus address­es the gaps and lim­its of under­stand­ing their role in pub­lic life. By medi­al­i­ty we draw upon what Will Straw calls the “occa­sion­al state” that phys­i­cal objects occu­py when they demon­strate some of the qual­i­ties nor­mal­ly asso­ci­at­ed with media tech­nolo­gies (128). Such qual­i­ties include pro­cess­ing, stor­age, and trans­mis­sion, func­tions most famous­ly asso­ci­at­ed by Friedrich Kit­tler with “tech­ni­cal media” like the gramo­phone, film, and type­writer. How­ev­er, in a vein sim­i­lar to Straw, Liam Cole Young observes that such qual­i­ties can be found in a range of banal forms of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, which also store, orga­nize, and dis­sem­i­nate knowledge—for exam­ple, the every­day list (37-38). Medi­al­i­ty, rather than media, is a con­cept more attuned to the chang­ing sites and vec­tors of com­mu­ni­ca­tion that any object might tem­po­ral­ly occu­py. More­over, for Jonathan Sterne, the con­cept of medi­al­i­ty avoids the pit­falls of approach­es that implic­it­ly view every process of medi­a­tion as a corruption—of ide­al expe­ri­ence, truth, or phys­i­cal real­i­ty (9-10). For the­o­rists using medi­al­i­ty, there is nei­ther a hier­ar­chy of media tech­nolo­gies nor any priv­i­leged, a pri­ori, expe­ri­en­tial realm that such tech­nolo­gies degrade. The term instead describes a gen­er­al con­di­tion in which media forms cross-ref­er­ence and cross-pol­li­nate, per­form­ing dif­fer­ent func­tions at dif­fer­ent times. The con­cept there­fore push­es media the­o­ry beyond the hard­ware of devices and net­works and the inten­tions or inter­pre­ta­tions of peo­ple to con­sid­er inter­me­di­aries that “oper­ate like cat­a­combs under the con­cep­tu­al, prac­ti­cal, and insti­tu­tion­al edi­fices of media” (Sterne 16). Medi­al­i­ty encour­ages us to under­stand com­mu­ni­ca­tion as a com­plex inter­play of forms, sur­faces, arti­facts, users, and tech­niques that are con­stant­ly shift­ing and mor­ph­ing. It thus offers a fresh view on the com­mu­nica­tive capac­i­ties of non-tra­di­tion­al media like towers.

In this essay, we explore what we call “tow­er-medi­al­i­ty” through two of Canada’s most famous steeples. Our aims are mod­est and two-fold. First, we wish to expand the vocab­u­lary avail­able for under­stand­ing how tow­ers are plat­forms that medi­ate the tem­po­ral and spa­tial ele­ments of civic cul­ture. Sec­ond, we hope this essay invites fur­ther con­sid­er­a­tions of the medi­at­ing and com­mu­nica­tive work that occurs along the ver­ti­cal axis. Media the­o­ry has his­tor­i­cal­ly been very good at ana­lyz­ing media devices, net­works, and func­tions that move along the hor­i­zon­tal plane; but it has been less adept when it comes to under­stand­ing ver­ti­cal­i­ty. We pro­ceed first with a brief dis­cus­sion of the schol­ar­ly lit­er­a­ture on tow­ers, high­light­ing that while much is said about tow­ers’ sym­bol­ic val­ue, lit­tle atten­tion has been devot­ed to think­ing of these forms in mate­r­i­al and infra­struc­tur­al terms. Even less has attempt­ed to con­sid­er tow­ers accord­ing to dif­fer­ent medi­al states. From there we turn to the Cana­di­an tow­ers them­selves, ask­ing, first, why they have received so lit­tle schol­ar­ly atten­tion, before sug­gest­ing some points of inter­sec­tion between archi­tec­ture and com­mu­ni­ca­tion research. Final­ly, we offer three registers—ritual, per­spec­tive, and spectacle—by which to explore the medi­al­i­ty of the CN and Cal­gary Towers.

Tower Studies and Media Studies

Towers have played an impor­tant role in the orga­ni­za­tion of cul­ture for mil­len­nia. Lewis Mum­ford not­ed “tow­er” as one of the “graph­i­cal­ly clear” sym­bols dis­cov­ered by archae­ol­o­gists at the ancient Mesopotami­an city-states of Ur and Kish (along­side “tem­ple,” “water,” “gar­den,” “woods,” “high-road,” “mar­ket,” but—much to his chagrin—not “city”) (City in His­to­ry 66). The Bible is chock-full of tow­ers, the most famous is Babel, rou­tine­ly used to explain the pro­lif­er­a­tion of dif­fer­ent lan­guages in the world. How­ev­er, many oth­ers can be found in scrip­ture: Tow­ers of Edar, Penuel, Shechem, Jezreel, Jerusalem, Hana­neel, Ophel, Lebanon, Syene, Siloam, and Meah. “The Lord” is referred to con­sis­tent­ly as a tower—high, strong, and ever watch­ful (2 Sam. 22.3; Ps. 18.2, 61.3, 144.2, and 18.10; Song of Sol. 7.4 and 8.10). Tow­ers are invoked as essen­tial con­sti­tu­tive units of cities that will be built along­side walls, gates, and bars (2 Chron. 14.7). Watch­tow­ers are also ubiq­ui­tous, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the book of Isa­iah (see Peters, The Mar­velous Clouds 235). The pres­ence of tow­ers in sacred texts from var­i­ous reli­gions usu­al­ly sig­nals the pow­er that accom­pa­nies “over the top” viewpoints.

One rea­son why the tow­er per­sists in our sto­ries and cities is that it offers a cen­tral point of view, ris­ing above all (or most) oth­er sights, which is vis­i­ble across space and time. The tow­er is to the ver­ti­cal plane as the wall or trench is to the hor­i­zon­tal: a trace of ancient attempts by humans to re-shape the world through tech­nics. As walls inscribe bound­aries and bor­ders, cre­at­ing dis­tinc­tions upon which polit­i­cal con­cepts arise (such as between inside/outside, civilization/barbarism, order/chaos, us/them;), tow­ers sim­i­lar­ly inscribe con­cepts into the sky (for more on the polit­i­cal con­cepts inscribed by walls, see Siegert 11-12). As Rudolf Arn­heim notes, all build­ings share the “dar­ing sin” of encroach­ment, intrud­ing into emp­ty space and rais­ing “the basis of human action beyond the safe­ty of the com­mon ground” (34). It is this sense of size and range that we see the famil­iar claims of tow­ers as “lad­ders to the Gods” or as points on the earth that aspire to pierce the heav­ens. In so doing, how­ev­er, tow­ers cre­ate plat­forms for a pletho­ra of oth­er human activ­i­ties: com­mu­ni­ca­tion, most notably, but also obser­va­tion, time keep­ing, exper­i­men­ta­tion, and even vio­lence. Michele Bertomen empha­sizes ampli­fi­ca­tion and dis­tri­b­u­tion as essen­tial aspects in how tow­ers facil­i­tate “com­mu­ni­ca­tions between dis­tant points and a con­se­quent sense of the short­en­ing of space and time” (55). That tow­ers help link dis­tant points via the send­ing and receiv­ing of opti­cal or acoustic data is a com­mon refrain in media the­o­ry (see Kit­tler, “His­to­ry of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion” and Peters, The Mar­velous Clouds 238-40).

Tow­ers are also use­ful tools for think­ing more close­ly about the polit­i­cal and eth­i­cal impli­ca­tions of how social activ­i­ty is arranged spa­tial­ly. Eyal Weiz­man argues for a pol­i­tics of ver­ti­cal­i­ty to show how two-dimen­sion­al map­ping can­not ade­quate­ly cap­ture what he calls “the expe­ri­ence of ter­ri­to­ry” by those liv­ing in the West Bank. The pres­ence of Israeli set­tle­ments built on hills and the use of drones demon­strate occu­pa­tion and sur­veil­lance even if maps show sep­a­ra­tion and auton­o­my. “Geo-pol­i­tics,” Weiz­man writes, “is a flat dis­course,” part of the “car­to­graph­ic imag­i­na­tion inher­it­ed from the mil­i­tary and polit­i­cal spa­tial­i­ties of the mod­ern nation-state” (Weiz­man). Tow­ers might sim­i­lar­ly serve as a pow­er­ful tool for con­sid­er­ing the rela­tion­ship between ver­ti­cal space and the gov­ern­men­tal­i­ty of every­day life.

Mod­ern tow­ers appear pri­mar­i­ly through the prism of the skyscraper—a potent archi­tec­tur­al sym­bol of the trans­for­ma­tion from tra­di­tion­al to mod­ern soci­ety. In Sky­scraper Cin­e­ma, Mer­rill Schleier writes that the role of sky­scrap­ers in film con­cerns “the rela­tion­ship between mas­culin­i­ty and modernity…a metaphor for upward mobil­i­ty and cap­i­tal achieve­ment” (3). Mum­ford took a wider his­tor­i­cal view but still saw in the sky­scraper the same base will-to-pow­er (and cap­i­tal). Sky­scrap­ers were the newest instan­ti­a­tion of the ten­den­cy of those with pow­er and cap­i­tal to pro­duce mon­u­men­tal architecture—at great expense, using cost­ly mate­r­i­al, and with much fanfare—as a sym­bol­ic expres­sion of that pow­er (Mum­ford, City in His­to­ry 65 and Sticks and Stones 108). Both Andreas Bernard and Stephen Gra­ham have not­ed the sig­nif­i­cance of ele­va­tors with­in sky­scrap­ers as an important—but sur­pris­ing­ly little-studied—medium of move­ment and cir­cu­la­tion, which has for the last hun­dred years played a key role in the orga­ni­za­tion of ver­ti­cal space (Bernard; Gra­ham, “Super Tall”). There is a rich lit­er­a­ture that exam­ines the expres­sion and delin­eation of class or racial divi­sions via the orga­ni­za­tion of space along lines such as urban and rur­al, or inner city and sub­urb. Gra­ham, how­ev­er, expands on this lit­er­a­ture to note that such sep­a­ra­tion also occurs along the ver­ti­cal plane. He care­ful­ly traces how society’s finan­cial elites retreat from busy and con­gest­ed cities by liv­ing in expen­sive high-rise apart­ments that offer abun­dant light, fresh air, and per­son­al safe­ty that is short sup­ply on the ground and there­by trans­form city sky­lines (Gra­ham, Ver­ti­cal 174-220).

Such are the terms with which we tend to describe how humans climb the ver­ti­cal axis in attempts to, among oth­er things, medi­ate between heav­en and earth, achieve large-scale non-ver­bal mass com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and express pow­er. The assess­ments of Schleier, Bertomen, Weiz­man, Gra­ham, and oth­ers effec­tive­ly empha­size the rep­re­sen­ta­tion­al, polit­i­cal, com­mu­nica­tive, and eco­nom­ic reg­is­ters that shape so much of our think­ing about tow­ers. How­ev­er, it is equal­ly impor­tant, we argue, to com­ple­ment these inter­pre­ta­tions of ver­ti­cal­i­ty with ones more atten­tive to the mate­r­i­al and infra­struc­tur­al char­ac­ter­is­tics of tow­ers and oth­er “sky media” (Peters, The Mar­velous Clouds 165). There is already some impor­tant work being done in this field, for instance, on the media archae­olo­gies of Wi-Fi, radio, and oth­er tow­ers (Mat­tern), analy­ses of satel­lites and earth-observ­ing media (Parks, Cul­tures in Orbit; Rus­sill), and the pol­i­tics of grain ele­va­tors on the Cana­di­an prairies (Bar­ney). Darin Bar­ney, in this last exam­ple, argues that grain ele­va­tors serve as “uncon­ven­tion­al media that struc­ture tem­po­ral and spa­tial experience—and polit­i­cal possibility—on the Prairies” (5). In plac­ing these arche­typ­al rur­al tow­ers (which have received almost no schol­ar­ly atten­tion) on the agen­da for com­mu­ni­ca­tion research, Bar­ney seeks to cor­rect igno­rance about the rur­al with­in con­tem­po­rary the­o­riza­tions of tech­nol­o­gy and pol­i­tics, which con­tin­ue to treat such set­tings with either nos­tal­gia or sim­plic­i­ty. Author Ali Piwowar and pho­tog­ra­ph­er Kyler Zele­ny echo such sen­ti­ments in their recent arti­cle for this jour­nal, not­ing that the role of grain ele­va­tors in net­works of eco­nom­ic and social activ­i­ty, in addi­tion to their archi­tec­tur­al “mon­u­men­tal­i­ty,” are essen­tial to under­stand­ing grain ele­va­tors’ intan­gi­ble cul­tur­al her­itage (Piwowar). Such work invites us to con­sid­er the modes of social cohe­sive­ness that are pro­duced by the cul­tur­al and mate­r­i­al infra­struc­tures entan­gled in the tow­er as monument.

These themes res­onate with John Durham Peters’s char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of tow­ers as “logis­ti­cal media” that orga­nize peo­ple and places in space and time (“Cal­en­dar, Clock, Tow­er” 37-38). A tower’s ascen­dance up the ver­ti­cal axis, Peters claims, facil­i­tates the expan­sion of its reach along the hor­i­zon­tal, allow­ing humans to extend their com­mu­nica­tive reach. Tow­ers, for exam­ple, allow one to see and hear over a great dis­tance, but also to be seen and heard from a great dis­tance. They also rep­re­sent exclu­siv­i­ty, as access to the tow­er from the ground is often lim­it­ed. For Peters, these char­ac­ter­is­tics are part of the rea­son they are asso­ci­at­ed with divine and sec­u­lar pow­er (Peters, “Cal­en­dar, Clock, Tow­er” 36). The new per­cep­tu­al vis­tas offered by tow­ers open them up to an array of uses and func­tions that make them objects of awe, tourism, and also resent­ment (Peters, The Mar­velous Clouds 234-40). Peters’s insights build on Mumford’s ear­li­er under­stand­ing of time-keep­ing tech­niques in Bene­dic­tine monas­ter­ies that estab­lished basic rhythms of time accord­ing to the sev­en canon­i­cal hours, each marked by the ring­ing of bells. These tech­niques would even­tu­al­ly syn­the­size the opti­cal (clock face) and acoustic (bells) data streams as part of the “cul­tur­al prepa­ra­tion” for mod­ern “clock time” (Tech­nics and Civ­i­liza­tion 12). Alain Corbin also shows how the nine­teenth-cen­tu­ry bell tow­ers of rur­al France sym­bol­ized com­mu­ni­ty iden­ti­ty, ordered time, marked geo­graph­ic ter­ri­to­ry, and char­ac­ter­ized sacred or solemn moments by trans­form­ing audi­to­ry space dur­ing fes­ti­vals, hol­i­days, deaths, and church ser­vices (Corbin).

For Peters, towers—and a fam­i­ly of tall struc­tures rang­ing from minarets to radio and tele­vi­sion antennas—are plat­forms for dis­sem­i­na­tion and mark­ers of pub­lic space and time. In a sim­i­lar reg­is­ter, the his­tor­i­cal work of David E. Nye, Anne Cronin and David Nasaw points to the role played by adver­tis­ing bill­boards, night­time light­ing, and elec­tri­fi­ca­tion in the tran­si­tion of nine­teenth-cen­tu­ry city life into an era asso­ci­at­ed with the “tech­no­log­i­cal sub­lime” of moder­ni­ty and its pop­u­lar enter­tain­ments (Nye; Cronin; Nasaw). David Henkin neat­ly describes how the appear­ance of words on a vari­ety of sur­faces around New York City (such as on walls, hand­bills, and street signs) rep­re­sent­ed shifts in nine­teenth cen­tu­ry pub­lic cul­ture caused by media inno­va­tion and urban­iza­tion (Henkin). Auro­ra Wal­lace details how news­pa­per own­ers made use of their office build­ings for com­pet­i­tive advan­tage, dis­play­ing bill­boards of break­ing news about sport­ing events, polit­i­cal devel­op­ments, and oth­er mat­ters of pub­lic inter­est. These dis­plays were soon replaced by stere­op­ti­con shows that were pro­ject­ed onto can­vas sheets draped over build­ings, and which some­times dis­played adver­tise­ments in between news­wor­thy images (Wal­lace 58).

Such work echoes Peters’s larg­er point that for too long our ten­den­cy has been to think of “media” only as devices that send and receive sig­nals, but, “[i]f we took tow­ers, sun­di­als, and clocks as media of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, as they undoubt­ed­ly are, we would have to think fresh­ly about where mean­ing comes from” (Peters, The Mar­velous Clouds 240). For the remain­der of this essay, we take this propo­si­tion seri­ous­ly but wish to bring more speci­fici­ty to Peters’s gen­er­al the­o­riza­tions. Our two Cana­di­an case stud­ies will show how tow­ers are ide­al­ly suit­ed for con­sid­er­ing the inter­ac­tion between sym­bol­ic com­mu­ni­ca­tion, ver­ti­cal ori­en­ta­tion, and mediality.

Two Cities, Two Towers

If it is clear from our lit­er­a­ture review that tow­ers rep­re­sent ide­al forms through which to con­sid­er the inter­ac­tion between the built and medi­al envi­ron­ments, it is more dif­fi­cult to see why there appears to be so lit­tle writ­ten to address these issues—especially in the Cana­di­an con­text. Per­haps the lack of atten­tion paid towards them reflects the feel­ings that many peo­ple in Cal­gary and Toron­to have about their tow­ers. Though the CN Tow­er remains a key nodal point in com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tems, as the main trans­mit­ter for 16 tele­vi­sion and radio sta­tions as well as microwave trans­mis­sions and fixed mobile com­mu­ni­ca­tion, it is large­ly cut off from most cir­cuits of mobil­i­ty used by Toron­to­ni­ans, save those trekking to sport­ing events at the Rogers Cen­tre or the new­ly built aquar­i­um. It was not sup­posed to be this way. The CN Tow­er was orig­i­nal­ly con­ceived as part of a major revi­tal­iza­tion project. Toronto’s old rail yards were to be replaced by an expan­sive “Metro Cen­tre” com­plex fea­tur­ing a com­mu­ni­ca­tion tow­er, a new head­quar­ters for the CBC, and a tran­sit hub to replace Union Sta­tion (which was to be demol­ished as part of the plan).

Fig­ure 2: Ear­ly ren­der­ing of CN Tow­er as part of Metro Cen­tre Complex

Though politi­cians of the day imag­ined the project as a vehi­cle by which Toron­to would enter the pan­theon of great world cities, its final result was con­sid­er­ably reduced. Only the CN Tow­er and a small plaza at its base were built, with the Sky­Dome to fol­low thir­teen years lat­er (in 1989).

This inaus­pi­cious start was a sign of things to come. The tow­er has occu­pied an uncer­tain place in the urban fab­ric of Toron­to and the imag­i­na­tions of its inhab­i­tants from the start. The open­ing of its doors on June 26, 1976 was greet­ed by press cov­er­age that oscil­lat­ed between excite­ment about the tower’s scale (it was once the tallest free-stand­ing struc­ture in the world) and anx­i­eties about light­ning strikes, fire safe­ty, earth­quakes, and falling ice. Since then, arti­cle after arti­cle has acknowl­edged the CN Tow­er as, var­i­ous­ly, an engi­neer­ing mar­vel, a bland sym­bol of archi­tec­tur­al largesse, or an elab­o­rate white ele­phant devoid of cul­tur­al val­ue. In one of the more famous ear­ly char­ac­ter­i­za­tions, Macleans colum­nist Allan Fother­ing­ham referred to the tow­er as a tes­ti­mo­ny to “mechan­i­cal machis­mo,” an “exer­cise in juve­nile senil­i­ty,” and as “a col­lec­tion of con­crete piled high­er into the sky than any oth­er pile of con­crete” (88).

Fig­ure 3: CN Tow­er around the time of its com­ple­tion, 1975 (Bois Spremow)

Arthur Kroker’s 1984 book Tech­nol­o­gy and the Cana­di­an Mind is sig­nif­i­cant as an exam­ple of the ear­ly schol­ar­ly dis­course about the CN Tow­er, and for its effort to link it to oth­er com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nolo­gies such as “the rail­way, radio, tele­vi­sion, tele­graph, and microwave trans­mis­sions,” which he sees as cen­tral to “Cana­di­an dis­course” and “Cana­di­an iden­ti­ty” (9). For Kro­ker, the CN Tow­er is an “aggres­sive dis­play of the archi­tec­ture of hi-tech,” a “phal­lo­cen­tric sym­bol of the union of pow­er and tech­nol­o­gy in the design of Cana­di­an dis­course,” and a “reminder of our immer­sion into the processed world of com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies” (9-10). He sees the CN Tow­er as an ide­al sym­bol of the “in-between” nature of the Cana­di­an posi­tion, “a rest­less oscil­la­tion between the prag­mat­ic will to live at all costs of the Amer­i­cans and a sear­ing lament for what has been sup­pressed by the mod­ern tech­ni­cal order” (7-8). This account draws upon themes from strains of Eng­lish-Cana­di­an thought, best exem­pli­fied in the work of Harold Innis and George Grant, which com­bines skep­ti­cism of Canada’s sur­ren­der to tech­no­log­i­cal imper­a­tives and broad­er anx­i­eties about Amer­i­can cul­tur­al impe­ri­al­ism. Kroker’s skep­ti­cism regard­ing the CN Tower’s “bold” yet “almost prim­i­tive” archi­tec­ture should also be under­stood in the con­text of a gen­er­al unease about the sym­bol­ic val­ue of con­crete, a build­ing mate­r­i­al that, as Julia Mor­gan Charles notes in her study of 1960s and 70s Mon­tre­al megapro­jects, is fre­quent­ly “blamed today for the homog­e­niza­tion of urban cen­tres and the era­sure of local archi­tec­tur­al char­ac­ter­is­tics” (Kro­ker 10; Charles 56).

Calgary’s tow­er has sim­i­lar­ly strug­gled to match the scope of its con­cep­tion. Stephanie White recounts that as ear­ly as 1963, archi­tect W.G. Milne envi­sioned a “great gold­en spire” that could be, in his words, “admired and shown with pride […] visu­al­ly appar­ent; an inte­gral part of our day to day life and avail­able to all” (qtd. in White 30). Milne pitched the project to cel­e­brate the 100th anniver­sary of Cana­di­an Con­fed­er­a­tion and cre­ate a sense of pride of place for Cal­gar­i­ans. The first part of his pitch was a dif­fi­cult sell for West­ern Cana­di­ans, but for the sec­ond part found a recep­tive audi­ence in Calgary’s polit­i­cal and com­mer­cial class­es, whose col­lec­tive mood was jovial through­out the 1950s and 60s. The city’s pop­u­la­tion more than dou­bled between 1950 and 1965, employ­ment was at an all-time high, and cof­fers were full thanks to the con­tin­u­ing drift of the Cana­di­an econ­o­my toward oil and gas as eco­nom­ic staples.

If Milne’s idea for a gold­en spire was an easy sell to Cal­gar­i­ans, financ­ing it was not, even in those hal­cy­on days. It took a part­ner­ship between the City of Cal­gary, Husky Oil and Refin­ing Ltd., and the Cana­di­an Pacif­ic Rail­way. As White recounts, Milne would not end up the tower’s lead archi­tect, nor would it be built on any of his pro­posed sites (31-33). When the tow­er final­ly appeared in 1968, chris­tened “Husky Tow­er,” both his involve­ment as archi­tect and his aspi­ra­tions for nation-build­ing had been scrubbed (archi­tects think about nation and imag­i­na­tion, CEOs about eco­nom­ics and sup­ply chain).

Fig­ure 4: Cal­gary Tow­er under con­struc­tion, 1968

The Cal­gary-Husky-CPR coali­tion arose from three sep­a­rate though relat­ed goals. Milne had cap­tured the imag­i­na­tions of city coun­cil and plan­ners and put them in a mon­u­men­tal mood. Mean­while, the Cana­di­an arm of Husky Oil Ltd. had pur­chased all out­stand­ing U.S. shares of the com­pa­ny in 1960, so it was eager to cement its posi­tion in Calgary’s cor­po­rate scene and the Cana­di­an econ­o­my more broad­ly. The tow­er project pre­sent­ed an oppor­tu­ni­ty to ful­fill its prac­ti­cal need for office space with flair. Final­ly, CPR was eager to rede­vel­op the land on which its old sta­tion had stood, which its new­ly mint­ed real estate arm, Marathon Real­ty, still owned. In an inver­sion of what would hap­pen in Toron­to, it took a larg­er complex—including a shop­ping mall, park­ing, a new CPR sta­tion, and office space—to get Calgary’s tow­er built.

In spite of Milne’s every­day, egal­i­tar­i­an con­cept, the Cal­gary Tow­er now sits in a large­ly for­got­ten cor­ner of the down­town core. As White notes, it is impact­ed on all sides, by com­mer­cial rail lines, major auto thor­ough­fares, and the his­toric Pal­lis­er hotel (35). Thus, like its Toron­to coun­ter­part, the Cal­gary Tow­er is dis­con­nect­ed from the city’s major cir­cuits of eco­nom­ic and cul­tur­al activity.

Fig­ure 5: Lone­ly Cal­gary Tow­er, 2015 (Stu­art Gray­don, Cal­gary Herald)

Once the tallest struc­ture in West­ern Cana­da, the Cal­gary Tow­er has been sur­passed in height many times over, in Cal­gary and else­where, and is now vis­i­ble only from rel­a­tive­ly few areas of the city. When the tow­er does come into view, it offers quaint reminders of Calgary’s mid-cen­tu­ry emer­gence as eco­nom­ic engine of the “New West” and of the city’s entrée onto the inter­na­tion­al stage as host of the 1988 Win­ter Olympic games. But such nos­tal­gia doesn’t typ­i­cal­ly assuage crit­ics, who bemoan how its con­crete and dwarfed pro­por­tions stand awk­ward­ly amongst downtown’s sleek glass sur­faces (Spear­man; Bur­gen­er). The Tow­er seems to have become, in the imag­i­na­tion, what it always was in mate­r­i­al terms: grey. It is com­mon­ly described as bor­ing, banal, and unspec­tac­u­lar, a con­sci­en­tious archi­tec­tur­al func­tionary with­out a func­tion. Even the tower’s “red space­ship” top, with­out the prop­er room to exhib­it itself, is rarely admired (White 34). Flashy new struc­tures from star archi­tects, such as San­ti­a­go Calatrava’s Peace Bridge and Nor­man Foster’s The Bow, seem only to have fur­ther mar­gin­al­ized the Cal­gary Tow­er. As an edi­to­r­i­al in the Cal­gary Her­ald put it in 1989, the tow­er “is just there” (Spear­man).

If the Cal­gary Tow­er seems no longer to res­onate in sym­bol­ic reg­is­ters of nation, region­al iden­ti­ty, pow­er, or progress, it also resists being under­stood in logis­ti­cal or infra­struc­tur­al terms. Unlike the CN Tow­er, it is almost nev­er used for com­mu­ni­ca­tion or air traf­fic con­trol pur­pos­es, and so does not read­i­ly send or receive sig­nals in the sense we are used to tow­ers doing. It has a car­il­lon and radio anten­na for “police and taxi use”; but these are rarely used or men­tioned (Joynt). The Cal­gary Tow­er has no reli­gious affil­i­a­tion and so medi­ates heav­en and earth only in the most tan­gen­tial ways. There is no pub­lic square or cen­tral gath­er­ing place at its base. The Cal­gary Tow­er is haunt­ed by these ear­li­er medi­al func­tions, but seems to be denied the oppor­tu­ni­ty to act as its pre­de­ces­sors have and there­fore strug­gles to live up to their lofty lega­cies. How­ev­er, because it was not orig­i­nal­ly designed to func­tion as a con­ven­tion­al medi­um of infor­ma­tion stor­age, trans­mis­sion, or pro­cess­ing, occa­sions when the Cal­gary Tow­er does adopt the posi­tion of media plat­form are con­spic­u­ous and some­times con­found­ing (two irre­sistible fea­tures for curi­ous schol­ars). Fur­ther­more, the Cal­gary Tower’s lim­i­ta­tions invite us to cast terms like plat­form and infra­struc­ture into wider reg­is­ters. Infra­struc­ture need not only describe the struc­tures and sys­tems upon which mil­i­tary affairs, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, trans­porta­tion, and habi­ta­tion depend. Civic cul­ture, too, requires infra­struc­ture, and tow­ers like Cal­gary and CN, in plat­form­ing oth­er media and modes of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, duti­ful­ly oblige. In what remains of this paper, we account for such func­tions by con­sid­er­ing three medi­al reg­is­ters that are acti­vat­ed by both tow­ers. These bring togeth­er the sym­bol­ic, aes­thet­ic, and mate­r­i­al com­po­nents of tow­ers we have out­lined so far in this paper.


Since James Carey’s famous essay on the top­ic, the long­stand­ing rela­tion­ship between media tech­nolo­gies and var­i­ous kinds of rit­u­al has been well doc­u­ment­ed (11-28). Media com­mem­o­rates impor­tant events; but they are just as impor­tant in struc­tur­ing the more banal rhythms and rit­u­als of dai­ly life, from check­ing mes­sages and e-mail on our phones in bed, lis­ten­ing to radio pro­grams dur­ing morn­ing com­mutes, to updat­ing, curat­ing, and oth­er­wise main­tain­ing social media news­feeds all day-every­day-every­where. Think­ing of tow­ers through a rit­u­al­is­tic lens allows us to con­sid­er how forms of archi­tec­ture are part of spa­tial and tem­po­ral arrange­ments of peo­ple, places, and things with­in city life.

One of the most strik­ing rit­u­al fea­tures of the Cal­gary Tow­er is that, like the hill­tops in Aeschylus’s Agamem­non, it is a plat­form to dis­sem­i­nate the “ele­men­tal” medi­um of fire (Peters, The Mar­velous Clouds 115). Atop the tow­er sits a nat­ur­al gas caul­dron capa­ble of releas­ing flames of up to 10 metres. The caul­dron was installed for the 1988 Olympic Win­ter Games and its illu­mi­na­tion was one of the most mem­o­rable moments of the Games’ open­ing cer­e­monies. This giant torch—which bears a strik­ing, though coin­ci­den­tal, resem­blance to the offi­cial torch of the Games—remained lit for the dura­tion of the Games and still holds the record for high­est Olympic flame. The tow­er pro­vides a plat­form for fire to con­quer ver­ti­cal space, as the Olympic torch relay has tra­di­tion­al­ly done with hor­i­zon­tal space, and to mark dura­tional time.

Fig­ure 6: caul­dron atop the Cal­gary Tow­er dur­ing the Van­cou­ver Olympic Games, 18 Jan­u­ary 2010

Today, the caul­dron serves a wider array of cer­e­mo­ni­al and com­mem­o­ra­tive pur­pos­es. It is lit to mark hol­i­days like Cana­da and Remem­brance Day as well as major sport­ing events (e.g. in cel­e­bra­tion of every gold medal won by Team Cana­da in each Olympic Games since Cal­gary ’88 and the more infre­quent suc­cess­es of the Cal­gary Flames NHL team, such as when it won the Stan­ley Cup in 1989). A recent ini­tia­tive has result­ed in torch light­ing to memo­ri­al­ize local mil­i­tary and ser­vice pro­fes­sion­als killed in action. The pass­ing of famous Cal­gar­i­ans, such as its for­mer May­or and Pre­mier of Alber­ta Ralph Klein, have also been marked with the light­ing of the flame.

The Cal­gary Tow­er also hosts a sophis­ti­cat­ed suite of LED lights, installed in 2015, that sig­nals hol­i­days, city­wide events, and tem­po­ral phe­nom­e­na such as sea­sons. The CN Tow­er has had a sim­i­lar light­ing scheme since 2007, and both tow­ers are plat­forms for these rit­u­al modes of com­mu­ni­cat­ing time. In Toron­to, the LEDs are illu­mi­nat­ed when­ev­er one of Toronto’s major sports teams makes the play­offs (until recent­ly a rare occur­rence). How­ev­er, the tow­er also takes requests from non-denom­i­na­tion­al, non­po­lit­i­cal reg­is­tered nation­al char­i­ta­ble events or caus­es. A look at a recent sched­ule, post­ed in part here (Fig­ure 7), finds the tow­er serv­ing as a form of infor­ma­tion dis­tri­b­u­tion about a range of social caus­es stem­ming from hyper­ten­sion to Lyme dis­ease, and from lupus to blad­der can­cer, each with its own dis­tinc­tive col­or palette. Some struc­tur­al light­ing is dimmed for five min­utes on the top of the hour through­out the night on the day a Cana­di­an sol­dier is repa­tri­at­ed. In both cities, height and light proves to be an irre­sistible and for­mi­da­ble combination.

Fig­ure 7: Screen cap­ture, CN Tow­er Light­ing Sched­ule, May 2017

In focus­ing on the rit­u­al ele­ments of mark­ing space and time we can see that tow­ers are more than sym­bol­ic. They “plat­form” oth­er media in com­plex ways; fire con­quers ver­ti­cal space via the Cal­gary Tow­er, in a con­ver­gence of logis­ti­cal and ele­men­tal media. In such rit­u­al uses, tow­ers are cen­tral points upon which the gaze of the com­mu­ni­ty becomes fixed at cer­tain moments and accord­ing to cer­tain rhythms. Like all tow­ers, both CN and Cal­gary func­tion, simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, as plat­forms for relay­ing infor­ma­tion, dis­sem­i­nat­ing pub­lic virtue, and as ephemer­al mark­ers of pub­lic record. In so doing they com­pli­cate our ten­den­cy to asso­ciate such characteristics—gatekeeping, sta­tus con­fer­ral, pro­duc­tion of col­lec­tive experience—in soci­o­log­i­cal terms with tra­di­tion­al media like news­pa­pers or pub­lic broadcasting.

The rit­u­al reg­is­ter frames the Cal­gary and CN tow­ers as objects to be looked at. But as Roland Barthes bril­liant­ly under­stood, tow­ers unique­ly com­bine being seen with see­ing. We should recall that these Cana­di­an tow­ers were built with look­ing in mind—they are con­sis­tent­ly described as “free­stand­ing obser­va­tion­al towers”—and the views they open up of the cities below are impor­tant aspects of their role as media platforms.


In a spe­cial issue com­mem­o­rat­ing the open­ing of the CN Tow­er, the Toron­to Star char­ac­ter­ized it as the “King of the Clouds,” remind­ing read­ers that “the only place high­er man’s stood is a moun­tain peak or the moon.” From the tower’s obser­va­tion decks high above the city, Toron­to­ni­ans would be giv­en “a view so vast … on a clear day you can see Bar­bara Streisand” (King). The arti­cle gave the sense that the open­ing of what was then the world’s largest free­stand­ing struc­ture would pro­vide an expe­ri­ence of com­plete and com­pre­hen­sive visu­al­i­ty that was a unique gift to the world and priv­i­lege of Torontonians.

The Star’s char­ac­ter­i­za­tion also reminds us of how archi­tec­tur­al struc­tures and media tech­nolo­gies facil­i­tate the cre­ation and manip­u­la­tion of sen­so­ry per­spec­tive, and, as Angela Miller explains, cre­ate panoram­ic views that con­vert nature into spec­tac­u­lar forms (Miller). Much of the lit­er­a­ture explor­ing the rela­tion­ship between archi­tec­ture and media sim­i­lar­ly links modernity’s trans­for­ma­tion of urban life with new cin­e­mat­ic and pho­to­graph­ic media that emerged dur­ing approx­i­mate­ly the same peri­od. For exam­ple, we have an exten­sive lit­er­a­ture on panora­mas, as both mid-nine­teenth-cen­tu­ry forms of enter­tain­ment and as aes­thet­ic trans­for­ma­tions of visu­al per­cep­tion that are the result of tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion (Huh­ta­mo; Nye). Yet this lit­er­a­ture is by and large inat­ten­tive to the role of the tow­er itself in medi­at­ing panoram­ic visions.

One excep­tion is Barthes, who was trans­fixed by this func­tion of the tow­er. As he wrote, the views offered by tow­ers fun­da­men­tal­ly reshape our per­cep­tions and under­stand­ings of the cities that con­tain them. To view Paris from the Eif­fel Tow­er, he argued, was to “read” rather than sim­ply per­ceive the city—“to tran­scend sen­sa­tion and to see things in their struc­ture” (9). This visu­al mode, Barthes thought, offered a more play­ful and explorato­ry expe­ri­ence of the city than pos­si­ble from below. From the top of a tow­er, side­walks, roads, struc­tures, and peo­ple are ele­vat­ed from the usu­al func­tion­al rela­tions we have with them on the ground. They are ren­dered open to inspec­tion, con­tem­pla­tion, and com­par­i­son. New con­nec­tions can be rec­og­nized or forged in this process of what Barthes called “intellection”—a process sim­i­lar to what Mar­shall McLuhan, writ­ing about dif­fer­ent media phe­nom­e­na, had ear­li­er described as “pat­tern recog­ni­tion” and asso­ci­at­ed with “cool” media like tele­vi­sion (Barthes 9; McLuhan 23-33). From the plat­form of the Eif­fel Tow­er, Barthes argues, the dura­tional his­to­ry of Paris is avail­able for the eye to sur­vey and the mind to con­sid­er. “Paris, in its dura­tion, under the Tower’s gaze, com­pos­es itself like an abstract can­vas in which dark oblongs (derived from a very old past) are con­tigu­ous with the white rec­tan­gles of mod­ern archi­tec­ture” (12). The eye skips from pre-mod­ern to medieval to mod­ern in a way that is impos­si­ble for a ground­ed body. The tow­er is the plat­form of such vision, offer­ing some­thing akin to ocu­lar time-axis manip­u­la­tion. We are now used to think­ing about the way that tech­niques of visu­al­iza­tion such as lists, dia­grams, type­face, page lay­outs, and info­graph­ics forge new con­nec­tions among and path­ways through words, peo­ple, data, and things; but we are less used to think­ing about how media plat­forms like tow­ers enable the eye to scan the built envi­ron­ment in sim­i­lar ways.

Fig­ure 8: View from the CN Tow­er look­ing west, 6 March 2015 (Ken Lane)

Such views have always been cen­tral to the appeal and mar­ket­ing of the tow­ers in Cal­gary and Toron­to. But if the vis­tas offered by their obser­va­tion decks are panoram­ic sur­veys of immense spaces, those avail­able through their glass floors are more micro­scop­ic in nature. One looks down at a framed, finite space and sees it teem­ing with move­ment. Pedes­tri­ans, cars, and bicy­cles uncan­ni­ly enter, trav­el across, and exit this frame rather like the way peo­ple and objects enter and exit the frame of the cin­e­ma. Film’s pow­er lies in its abil­i­ty to show move­ment, what Deleuze called “time itself,” by ren­der­ing the space of the screen as liq­uid and tem­po­ral (16). Here, through the glass floors, the move­ment of time is sim­i­lar­ly pre­sent­ed to the eye.

Fig­ure 9: View from the Cal­gary Tower’s glass floor, 31 Decem­ber 2005 (D’Arcy Norman)

A slice of the city is offered to the observ­er not to sur­vey (a spa­tial act), but to watch unfold in time. If panoram­ic vis­tas from obser­va­tion decks turn time into space, allow­ing the eye to make jump-cuts across lay­ers of dura­tional time, in these cas­es we see the reverse: glass floors turn space into time, unfreez­ing a more local­ized view.


Our final reg­is­ter, spec­ta­cle, recalls the images with which we began this essay. The Green­peace activists in Toron­to and Cal­gary under­stood the long rela­tion­ship between tow­ers and the spec­tac­u­lar. Of course, tow­ers of any kind are obvi­ous can­di­dates for a Debor­dian cri­tique of spec­ta­cle as “cap­i­tal to such a degree of accu­mu­la­tion that it becomes an image”—a log­ic which, as David Har­vey observes, has trans­formed cities into daz­zling visu­al dis­plays of cap­i­tal­ist excess (Debord; Har­vey 66-98). We should note, how­ev­er, that tow­ers were spec­tac­u­lar expres­sions of accu­mu­lat­ed wealth and pow­er long before cap­i­tal­ism. But Debord’s spec­ta­cle is not the only sense in which tow­ers acti­vate the “spec­tac­u­lar.” More sim­ply, tow­ers tow­er. They are eye-catch­ing and extra­or­di­nary objects to behold—especially those, like Cal­gary and the CN Tow­er, built to stand apart. As such, tow­ers syn­the­size these two aspects of spec­ta­cle, sym­bol­ic-ide­o­log­i­cal and sub­lime. They are plat­forms upon which spec­ta­cle is both craft­ed and experienced.

To cite a clas­sic exam­ple: Through­out 1999, Paris lever­aged the Eif­fel Tower’s spec­tac­u­lar sta­tus to become a glob­al attrac­tion for the count­down to the new mil­len­ni­um. Com­mu­ni­ties in Toron­to and Cal­gary sim­i­lar­ly, if less ambi­tious­ly, use their respec­tive tow­ers to craft “spec­tac­u­lar” media events for an array of civic pur­pos­es. For instance, char­i­ty groups often invite cit­i­zens to run or walk up the steps, as, for exam­ple, in Calgary’s twen­ty-eight year run­ning “Climb for Wilder­ness.” Each year, news­pa­per arti­cles about the event abound, recount­ing extra­or­di­nary cas­es of peo­ple, young and old, defy­ing expec­ta­tions for a high­er cause. In spite of, or per­haps because of, such vir­tu­ous uses, tow­ers also attract sub­ver­sive uses. In addi­tion to the Green­peace ban­ners, we might cite coun­try musi­cian and ama­teur pilot Cal Cavendish’s infa­mous “manure run” of 1975, in which the dis­grun­tled musi­cian flew his plane over Cal­gary, twice buzzing the Cal­gary Tow­er in order to star­tle the din­ers in its restau­rant before dump­ing 100 pounds of manure on the city’s down­town ( “The Day the ‘Mad Manure Bomber’ Struck with­out Warning”).

Despite their poten­tial­ly sub­ver­sive uses, such spec­tac­u­lar vis­tas remain part of the attrac­tion of tow­ers and are mar­ket­ed accord­ing­ly. Pro­mo­tion­al mate­r­i­al for the CN Tow­er, for instance, boasts about its “thrilling” high-speed glass ele­va­tors that “give you a breath-tak­ing view as you race upwards at 22 kilo­me­ters per hour!” (“High Speed Ele­va­tors”). Since 2011, more adven­tur­ous vis­i­tors are able to expe­ri­ence “Toronto’s most extreme attrac­tion,” the Edge­Walk. This is the “world’s high­est full cir­cle hands-free walk” that takes place on the top of the tower’s main pod, 356m above ground (“Edge­Walk Overview”). These more recent addi­tions com­ple­ment the many iter­a­tions of restau­rants and bars that have been housed at the top of the tow­er, from today’s restau­rant “360” to “Sparkles,” a night­club that began in the 1970s as a dis­co and which would go on to house oth­er sub­cul­tur­al events includ­ing punk and rave shows (Ben­son).

As with oth­er revolv­ing restau­rants in tow­ers from Cal­gary to Van­cou­ver and Nia­gara Falls, these offer vis­i­tors the oppor­tu­ni­ty to enjoy eat­ing and danc­ing “in the clouds.” Dur­ing the 1980s and 90s, large video arcades and instal­la­tions offer­ing tours of the uni­verse greet­ed vis­i­tors of the CN Tower’s main lev­el. Each of these dif­fer­ent forms of amuse­ment offers expe­ri­ences of the lat­est tech­no­log­i­cal innovations—whether video games, lasers and strobe lights, or ear­ly expe­ri­ences with vir­tu­al reality—further entrench­ing the asso­ci­a­tion vis­i­tors have between the CN Tow­er and the world of hi-tech. As such, the tow­er is con­scious­ly made and remade as a site for futur­is­tic tourism and sen­sa­tion­al thrills, a con­tem­po­rary iter­a­tion of the “cul­ture of attrac­tions” often asso­ci­at­ed with ear­ly motion pic­ture tech­nolo­gies (see Gunning).

In each of these exam­ples, tow­ers are plat­forms for spec­tac­u­lar events or expe­ri­ences that arise in asso­ci­a­tion with the mate­r­i­al and sym­bol­ic sig­nif­i­cance of tow­ers as well as their capac­i­ty to attract media cov­er­age. Tow­ers should thus be under­stood as impor­tant nodal points with­in broad­er net­works of urban spec­ta­tor­ship and com­mu­nal experience.


Towers are pil­lars of hor­i­zon­tal net­works, the lever­age points by which fan­tasies of con­nec­tiv­i­ty and nation-build­ing attempt to ascend the ver­ti­cal axis. The CN and Cal­gary Tow­ers are the ver­ti­cal expres­sions of pow­er and wealth amassed by the Cana­di­an Nation­al Railway’s con­quer­ing of hor­i­zon­tal space and Husky Oil’s extrac­tion of sub­ter­ranean mate­r­i­al. Yet, as our analy­sis shows, these tow­ers are enmeshed in wider net­works of activity—not just com­mu­nal, sym­bol­ic, or space- and time-binding—but also rit­u­al­is­tic, per­spec­ti­val, and spec­tac­u­lar. Through their uses as plat­forms for dif­fer­ent com­mu­nica­tive forms, in their capac­i­ty for stor­age, and as dis­sem­i­na­tors of infor­ma­tion, tow­ers can also exhib­it medi­al char­ac­ter­is­tics. All tow­ers should there­fore be con­sid­ered in ways that move beyond con­ven­tion­al analy­ses that reduce them to mon­u­ments of cap­i­tal accu­mu­la­tion, pil­lars of mil­i­tar­i­ly logis­tics, or expres­sions of phal­lic symbolism.

We wish to con­clude by empha­siz­ing this point about ver­ti­cal­i­ty. Tow­ers teach us the val­ue of cast­ing our eyes up, and their absence in dom­i­nant streams of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and media the­o­ry shows a pro­nounced bias toward hor­i­zon­tal media and networks—railroads, fur trades, high­ways, tele­phone net­works, and the like. We hope the medi­al func­tions of tow­ers described above will pro­vide some pre­lim­i­nary con­cep­tu­al tools for con­sid­er­ing oth­er ver­ti­cal inter­me­di­aries. For instance, how do Montreal’s Mt. Roy­al, Sudbury’s Inco Super­stack, Halifax’s Citadel, or St. John’s Sig­nal Hill (among many oth­er pos­si­ble exam­ples in Cana­da and beyond) sim­i­lar­ly stitch com­mu­ni­ties togeth­er across space and time (for bet­ter or worse)? How might a con­sid­er­a­tion of each site’s medi­al­i­ty expand the scope of our under­stand­ing of civic cul­ture, both urban and rur­al? Might analy­ses of Hai­da Gyáa’aang (totem poles) in terms of ver­ti­cal­i­ty open up modes of engag­ing these struc­tures in ways that reject colo­nial optics that would dimin­ish their com­mu­ni­ty-bind­ing functions?

Fig­ure 10: Inco Nick­el Smelter Super­stack, Octo­ber 2006

Future work might con­sid­er the rela­tion­ship between ver­ti­cal­i­ty and medi­al­i­ty in more sub­tle terms. Recent research on “urban screens” or “media screens” in archi­tec­tur­al and media stud­ies lit­er­a­ture has been instruc­tive in this regard (see espe­cial­ly McQuire et al.). Such work explores the con­tin­ued expan­sion of screens in urban life, from large “Jum­botrons” at sport­ing events to LED bill­boards in cityscapes along with build­ings con­struct­ed with screens built into the form of the build­ing itself (on “Jum­botrons,” see Siegel). Might we also recon­sid­er the Cal­gary Sad­dle­dome or Toronto’s Sco­tia­bank Are­na as part of a more expan­sive under­stand­ing of Cana­di­an media spaces? How can we hope to under­stand the effects of home-shar­ing plat­forms like AirBnB with­out con­sid­er­ing the ver­ti­cal trans­for­ma­tion of many neigh­bour­hoods, par­tic­u­lar­ly in metrop­o­lis­es like Toron­to and Van­cou­ver, into arrange­ments of con­do­mini­um tow­ers that fur­ther sep­a­rate rich from poor and dis­place long-term res­i­dents from city cen­tres? Can we recon­sid­er the nature of Cana­di­an life by con­sid­er­ing a range of media technologies—from in-flight ser­vices to flight con­trol panels—as part of the medi­a­tion of air­space? What role does height play in “flat” lands like the prairies? How might we con­sid­er things like moun­tain­side chalets and ski hills as them­selves medi­al in nature, offer­ing forms of panoram­ic visu­al­i­ty that are pro­vid­ed to those vis­it­ing the CN and Cal­gary Tow­ers? (see Dini and Girodo)

Our think­ing along the ver­ti­cal axis need not only move up. Uncon­ven­tion­al media objects, prac­tices, tech­niques, and tech­nolo­gies come into view when we also con­sid­er what lies beneath the Earth’s sur­face. Recent work in this field com­bines media the­o­ry with geo­sciences to under­stand how the Anthro­pocene is inscribed into the stra­ta of the Earth itself (Parik­ka). Dig­ging, drilling, pump­ing, pulling, and oth­er tech­niques of extrac­tion, how­ev­er, have been cen­tral to human cul­ture for mil­len­nia. Recent research into “petro­cul­tures”’ shows that these activ­i­ties con­tin­ue to struc­ture glob­al polit­i­cal econ­o­my in Cana­da and beyond (Wil­son, Carl­son, and Sze­man). At the same time, his­to­ries of tun­nels and sub­ter­ranean sub­terfuge remind us that peo­ple have tak­en advan­tage of the Earth’s cov­er for an even longer time.

As our atten­tion turns increas­ing­ly toward the medi­a­tion of cul­ture and pol­i­tics by dig­i­tal plat­forms, we would do well to con­sid­er “plat­form­ing” oper­a­tions over longer time hori­zons. We know that tow­ers are cen­tral to com­mu­ni­ca­tion and sur­veil­lance net­works, as are oth­er “sky media” like drones (Parks, Rethink­ing Media Cov­er­age). But their ver­ti­cal­i­ty also pro­vides a basis for con­cep­tu­al and abstract mod­el­ing that might bring into focus phe­nom­e­na of unthink­able sizes and scales, such as Ben­jamin Bratton’s mod­el­ling of “plan­e­tary-scale com­pu­ta­tion” as The Stack (xvi­ii and pas­sim). Bratton’s mod­el helps us under­stand that com­pu­ta­tion exceeds the flat dia­grams of nodes and links that have for too long dom­i­nat­ed our con­cep­tions of net­worked com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Tow­ers are stacks, too (as res­i­dents of Sud­bury, ON well know). A col­lec­tive imag­i­nary biased toward two-dimen­sions and flat ontolo­gies has lim­it­ed our think­ing about such issues. In fac­ing uncer­tain futures, we need to turn our atten­tion to struc­tures like tow­ers that have been teach­ing us about medi­al­i­ty along the ver­ti­cal axis for a very long time.

Works Cited

Åker, Patrik. “Ostank­i­no TV Tow­er: An Obses­sion with Space.” Media Hous­es: Archi­tec­ture, Media and the Pro­duc­tion of Cen­tral­i­ty. Edit­ed by Staffan Eric­son and Kristi­na Riegert, Peter Lang, 2010, pp. 81-113.

Anti-Oil­sands Protest Unfurled on Cal­gary Tow­er,” CBC News, 7 August 2010, http://​www​.cbc​.ca/​n​e​w​s​/​c​a​n​a​d​a​/​c​a​l​g​a​r​y​/​a​n​t​i​-​o​i​l​s​a​n​d​s​-​p​r​o​t​e​s​t​-​u​n​f​u​r​l​e​d​-​o​n​-​c​a​l​g​a​r​y​-​t​o​w​e​r​-​1​.​8​6​6​664. Accessed 15 June 2018.

Arn­heim, Rudolf. The Dynam­ics of Archi­tec­tur­al Form. U of Cal­i­for­nia P, 2009.

Bar­ney, Darin. “To Hear the Whis­tle Blow: Tech­nol­o­gy and Pol­i­tics on the Bat­tle Riv­er Branch Line,” Top­ia: Cana­di­an Jour­nal of Cul­tur­al Stud­ies, vol. 25, Spring 2011, , pp. 5-27.

Barthes, Roland. The Eif­fel Tow­er and Oth­er Mytholo­gies. Trans­lat­ed by Richard Howard, U of Cal­i­for­nia P, 1997.

Ben­son, Denise. “Then and Now: Sparkles.” Then and Now: Toron­to Nightlife His­to­ry, 3 Novem­ber 2014. http://​thenand​now​toron​to​.com/​2​0​1​4​/​1​1​/​t​h​e​n​-​n​o​w​-​s​p​a​r​k​l​es/. Accessed 14 April 2018.

Bernard, Andreas. Lift­ed: A Cul­tur­al His­to­ry of the Ele­va­tor. New York UP, 2014..

Bertomen, Michele. Trans­mis­sion Tow­ers on the Long Island Express­way: A Study of the Lan­guage of Form. Prince­ton Archi­tec­tur­al P, 1991.

Brat­ton, Ben­jamin H. The Stack: On Soft­ware and Sov­er­eign­ty. MIT P, 2016.

Bur­gen­er, Peter. “Don’t Lose Sight of Land­mark.” Cal­gary Her­ald, 23 April 2000.

Carey, James W. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion as Cul­ture: Essays on Media and Soci­ety. Rev. ed., Rout­ledge, 2008.

Charles, Julia Mor­gan. Shap­ing Time in the City: A Cul­tur­al His­to­ry of Con­crete Moder­ni­ty in Mon­tre­al, 1903-2015. PhD Dis­ser­ta­tion, McGill Uni­ver­si­ty, 2015.

Corbin, Alain. Vil­lage Bells: The Cul­ture of the Sens­es in the Nine­teenth-Cen­tu­ry French Coun­try­side. Trans­lat­ed by Mar­tin Thom, Colum­bia UP, 1998.

Cronin, Anne. “Adver­tis­ing and the Metab­o­lism of the City: Urban Space, Com­mod­i­ty Rhythms,” Envi­ron­ment and Plan­ning D: Soci­ety and Space, vol. 24, no. 4, 2006, pp. 615-32.

The Day the ‘Mad Manure Bomber’ Struck with­out Warn­ing.” CBC News, 7 May 2015, http://​www​.cbc​.ca/​n​e​w​s​/​c​a​n​a​d​a​/​c​a​l​g​a​r​y​/​c​a​l​-​c​a​v​e​n​d​i​s​h​-​t​h​e​-​m​a​d​-​m​a​n​u​r​e​-​b​o​m​b​e​r​-​t​e​l​l​s​-​h​i​s​-​s​t​o​r​y​-​1​.​3​0​6​5​300. Accessed 12 June 2018.

Debord, Guy. The Soci­ety of the Spec­ta­cle. Trans­lat­ed by Fredy Perl­man, Black & Red, 1977. https://​www​.marx​ists​.org/​r​e​f​e​r​e​n​c​e​/​a​r​c​h​i​v​e​/​d​e​b​o​r​d​/​s​o​c​i​e​t​y​.​htm. Accessed 12 June 2018.

Deleuze, Gilles. Cin­e­ma 2: The Time-Image. Trans­lat­ed by Hugh Tom­lin­son and Rober­ta Gale­ta, Con­tin­u­um, 2005.

Dini, Rober­to, and Ste­fano Giro­do. “Shel­ters in the Night. The Role of Archi­tec­ture in the Process of Under­stand­ing High-Alti­tude Areas.” Jour­nal of Alpine Research, vol. 106, no. 1.

Edge­Walk Overview.” CN Tow­er, http://​www​.cntow​er​.ca/​e​n​-​c​a​/​p​l​a​n​-​y​o​u​r​-​v​i​s​i​t​/​a​t​t​r​a​c​t​i​o​n​s​/​e​d​g​e​w​a​l​k​/​e​d​g​e​w​a​l​k​-​o​v​e​r​v​i​e​w​.​h​tml. Accessed 20 May 2018.

Fother­ing­ham, Allan. “Toron­to! Just when class was in her grasp, she revert­ed to form”. Macleans, 1975 Novem­ber 17, p. 88.

Gra­ham, Stephen. “Super-tall and Ultra-deep: The Cul­tur­al Pol­i­tics of the Ele­va­tor.” The­o­ry, Cul­ture, and Soci­ety, vol. 31, no. 7-8, Decem­ber 2014, pp. 239-65.

———.Ver­ti­cal: The City from Satel­lites to Bunkers. Ver­so, 2016.

Gun­ning, Tom. “The Cin­e­ma of Attrac­tions: Ear­ly Film, Its Spec­ta­tor and the Avant-Garde.” Wide Angle, vol. 8, no. 3-4, Fall 1986, pp. 63-70.

Har­vey, David. The Con­di­tion of Post­moder­ni­ty: An Enquiry into the Ori­gins of Cul­tur­al Change. Wiley-Black­well, 1989.

Henkin, David M. City Read­ing: Writ­ten Words and Pub­lic Spaces in Ante­bel­lum New York. Colum­bia UP, 1998.

High Speed Ele­va­tors.” CN Tow­er, http://​www​.cntow​er​.ca/​e​n​-​c​a​/​p​l​a​n​-​y​o​u​r​-​v​i​s​i​t​/​a​t​t​r​a​c​t​i​o​n​s​/​h​i​g​h​-​s​p​e​e​d​-​e​l​e​v​a​t​o​r​s​.​h​tml. Accessed 20 May 2018.

Huh­ta­mo, Erk­ki. Illu­sions in Motion: Media Archae­ol­o­gy of the Mov­ing Panora­ma and Relat­ed Spec­ta­cles. MIT P, 2013.

Joynt, Jer­ry. “Tow­er Flame Kept Secret Until End.” Cal­gary Her­ald, 9 Feb­ru­ary 2013.

King, Paul. “King of the Clouds.”, Toron­to Star, 26 June 1976.

Kit­tler, Friedrich. “The His­to­ry of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Media.” CThe­o­ry, 1996. https://​jour​nals​.uvic​.ca/​i​n​d​e​x​.​p​h​p​/​c​t​h​e​o​r​y​/​a​r​t​i​c​l​e​/​v​i​e​w​/​1​4​3​2​5​/​5​101

———.Gramo­phone, Film, Type­writer. Stan­ford UP, 1999.

Kro­ker, Arthur. Tech­nol­o­gy and the Cana­di­an Mind: Innis/McLuhan/Grant. New World Per­spec­tives, 1984.

Mat­tern, Shan­non. Code and Clay, Data and Dirt: Five Thou­sand Years of Urban Media. U of Min­neso­ta P, 2017.

McLuhan, Mar­shall. Under­stand­ing Media: The Exten­sions of Man. Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to Press, 1964.

McQuire, Scott, Mered­ith Mar­tin, and Sabine Nieder­er, edi­tors. The Urban Screens Read­er. Insti­tute for Net­work Cul­tures, 2009.

Miller, Angela. “The Panora­ma, the Cin­e­ma and the Emer­gence of the Spec­tac­u­lar.” Wide Angle, vol. 18, no. 2, April 1996, pp. 34-69.

Mum­ford, Lewis. Tech­nics and Civ­i­liza­tion. U of Chica­go P, 2010.

———.The City in His­to­ry: Its Ori­gins, Its Trans­for­ma­tions, and Its Prospects. Har­court, Brace & World, 1961.

———.Sticks and Stones: A Study of Amer­i­can Archi­tec­ture and Civ­i­liza­tion. Lit­er­ary Licens­ing, 2012.

Nasaw, David. Going Out: The Rise and Fall of Pub­lic Amuse­ments. Basic Books, 1993.

Nye, David E. Amer­i­can Tech­no­log­i­cal Sub­lime. MIT P, 1994.

Parik­ka, Jus­si. A Geol­o­gy of Media. U of Min­neso­ta P, 2015.

Parks, Lisa. Cul­tures in Orbit: Satel­lites and the Tele­vi­su­al. Duke UP, 2005.

———.Rethink­ing Media Cov­er­age: Ver­ti­cal Medi­a­tion and the War on Ter­ror. Rout­ledge, 2018.

Peters, John Durham. “Cal­en­dar, Clock, Tow­er.” Deus in Machi­na: Reli­gion, Tech­nol­o­gy and the Things in Between. Edit­ed by Jere­my Stolow, Ford­ham UP, 2013, pp. 25-42.

———.The Mar­velous Clouds: Toward a Phi­los­o­phy of Ele­men­tal Media. U of Chica­go P, 2015.

Piwowar, Ali. “Wood Grain Ele­va­tors: Archi­tec­ture Engrained on the Cana­di­an Prairies.” Imag­i­na­tions: Jour­nal of Cross-Cul­tur­al Image Stud­ies, vol. 7, no. 1, 2016, pp. 76–91.

Rus­sill, Chris. “Is the Earth a Medi­um? Sit­u­at­ing the Plan­e­tary in Media The­o­ry.” CTRL-Z, vol. 7. http://​www​.ctrl​-​z​.net​.au/​a​r​t​i​c​l​e​s​/​i​s​s​u​e​-​7​/​r​u​s​s​i​l​l​-​i​s​-​t​h​e​-​e​a​r​t​h​-​a​-​m​e​d​i​um/.

Siegel, Greg. “Dou­ble Vision: Large-Screen Video Dis­play and Live Sports Spec­ta­cle.” Tele­vi­sion and New Media, vol. 3, no. 1, 2002, pp. 49-73.

Siegert, Bern­hard. Cul­tur­al Tech­niques: Grids, Fil­ters, Doors, and Oth­er Artic­u­la­tions of the Real. Trans­lat­ed by Geof­frey Winthrop-Young, Ford­ham UP, 2015.

Schleier, Mer­rill. Sky­scraper Cin­e­ma: Archi­tec­ture and Gen­der in Amer­i­can Film. U of Min­neso­ta P, 2008.

Spear­man, Jack. “Tow­er Nev­er Grabbed City’s Soul” Cal­gary Her­ald, 11 April 1989.

Sterne, Jonathan. MP3: The Mean­ing of a For­mat. Duke UP, 2012.

Straw, Will. “Medi­al­i­ty and the Music Chart.” Sub­Stance, vol. 44, no. 3, 2015, pp. 128–38.

Tak­ing Greenpeace’s Mes­sage to the Skies.” CBC, 16 July 16 2001 http://​www​.cbc​.ca/​a​r​c​h​i​v​e​s​/​e​n​t​r​y​/​t​a​k​i​n​g​-​g​r​e​e​n​p​e​a​c​e​s​-​m​e​s​s​a​g​e​-​t​o​-​t​h​e​-​s​k​ies. Accessed 12 June 2018.

Von Bor­ries, Friedrich, Matthias Böttger, and Flo­ri­an Heilmey­er. TV Tow­ers – Fernse­htürme: 8,559 Meters Pol­i­tics and Archi­tec­ture. Jovis Ver­lag, 2009.

Wal­lace, Auro­ra. “A Height Deemed Appalling: Nine­teenth-Cen­tu­ry New York News­pa­per Build­ings.” Jour­nal­ism His­to­ry, vol. 31, no. 4, 2006, pp. 178-89.

Weiz­man, Eyal. “The Pol­i­tics of Ver­ti­cal­i­ty.” Open Democ­ra­cy, 2002. https://​www​.open​democ​ra​cy​.net/​e​c​o​l​o​g​y​-​p​o​l​i​t​i​c​s​v​e​r​t​i​c​a​l​i​t​y​/​a​r​t​i​c​l​e​_​8​0​1​.​jsp

White, Stephanie. Unbuilt Cal­gary. Dun­durn, 2012..

Wil­son, Sheena, Adam Carl­son, and Imre Sze­man. Petro­cul­tures: Oil, Pol­i­tics, Cul­ture. McGill-Queen’s P, 2012.

Young, Liam Cole. List Cul­tures: Knowl­edge and Poet­ics from Mesopotamia to Buz­zFeed. Ams­ter­dam U P, 2017.


The authors wish to thank the two anony­mous review­ers for their con­struc­tive com­ments and sug­ges­tions about how to improve our arguments.

Image Notes

Fig­ure 1: “Aer­i­al View of CN Tow­er with Cli­mate Ban­ner“, 1997 (©Greenpeace/Derek Oliv­er). https://​media​.green​peace​.org/​a​r​c​h​i​v​e​/​C​l​i​m​a​t​e​-​A​c​t​i​o​n​-​a​t​-​C​N​-​T​o​w​e​r​-​i​n​-​T​o​r​o​n​t​o​-​2​7​M​Z​I​F​X​U​B​X​U​.​h​tml. Accessed 22 Feb­ru­ary 2019;”Greenpeace Rap­pels Off Cal­gary Tow­er." (©Green­peace). https://​media​.green​peace​.org/​a​r​c​h​i​v​e​/​T​a​r​-​S​a​n​d​s​-​B​a​n​n​e​r​-​a​t​-​C​a​l​g​a​r​y​-​T​o​w​e​r​-​2​7​M​Z​I​F​I​K​3​N​B​7​.​h​tml. Accessed 22 Feb­ru­ary 2019.

Sta­dio­cen­tre: Sta­di­um and Con­ven­tion Cen­tre Study.  City of Toron­to Archives, Fonds 200, Series 726, Item 627.  https://gencat4.eloquent-systems.com/webcat/request/Action?SystemName=City+of+Toronto+Archives&UserName=wa+public&Password=&TemplateProcessID=6000_3355&PromptID=&ParamID=&TemplateProcessID=6000_1051_1051&PromptID=&ParamID=&CMD_(DetailRequest)[0]=&ProcessID=6000_3363(0)&KeyValues=KEY_639226.  Accessed 28 Novem­ber 2019.

Fig­ure 3: CN Tow­er around the time of its com­ple­tion, 1975 (Boris Spre­mo). Jes­si­ca Botel­ho-Urban­s­ki, “CN Tow­er cel­e­brates 40 years as a tourist mag­net and light­ning rod,” Toron­to Star (25 June 2016). https://​www​.thes​tar​.com/​n​e​w​s​/​g​t​a​/​2​0​1​6​/​0​6​/​2​5​/​c​n​-​t​o​w​e​r​-​c​e​l​e​b​r​a​t​e​s​-​4​0​-​y​e​a​r​s​-​a​s​-​a​-​t​o​u​r​i​s​t​-​m​a​g​n​e​t​-​a​n​d​-​l​i​g​h​t​n​i​n​g​-​r​o​d​.​h​tml. Accessed 22 Feb­ru­ary 2019.

Fig­ure 4: Cal­gary Tow­er under con­struc­tion, 1968 (Cal­gary Tow­er). https://​www​.cal​gar​y​tow​er​.com/​a​b​o​u​t​/​t​o​w​e​r​-​h​i​s​t​o​ry/. Accessed 22 Feb­ru­ary 2019.

Fig­ure 5: Lone­ly Cal­gary Tow­er, 2015 (Stu­art Gray­don, Cal­gary Her­ald). Michele Jarvie, “Book excerpt from Steele Resolve: The Build­ing of the THE BOW,Cal­gary Her­ald (27 Feb­ru­ary 2015). http://​cal​gary​her​ald​.com/​n​e​w​s​/​l​o​c​a​l​-​n​e​w​s​/​b​o​o​k​-​e​x​c​e​r​p​t​-​f​r​o​m​-​s​t​e​e​l​-​r​e​s​o​l​v​e​-​t​h​e​-​b​u​i​l​d​i​n​g​-​o​f​-​t​h​e​-​bow. Accessed 22 Feb­ru­ary 2019.

Fig­ure 6: Caul­dron atop the Cal­gary Tow­er dur­ing the Van­cou­ver Olympic Games, 18 Jan­u­ary 2010 (Province of British Colum­bia). https://​www​.flickr​.com/​p​h​o​t​o​s​/​b​c​g​o​v​p​h​o​t​o​s​/​4​2​8​7​6​8​4​8​83/. Accessed 22 Feb­ru­ary 2019.

Fig­ure 7: Screen cap­ture, CN Tow­er Light­ing Sched­ule, May 2017. Cur­rent cal­en­dar can be found at http://​www​.cntow​er​.ca/​e​n​-​c​a​/​a​b​o​u​t​-​u​s​/​n​i​g​h​t​-​l​i​g​h​t​i​n​g​.​h​tml.

Fig­ure 8: View from the CN Tow­er look­ing west, 6 March 2015 (Ken Lane). https://​flic​.kr/​p​/​r​k​B​xmd. Accessed 22 Feb­ru­ary 2019.

Fig­ure 9: View from the Cal­gary Tower’s glass floor, 31 Decem­ber 2005 (D’Arcy Nor­man). https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_leaning_child%27s_view_through_a_skyscraper%27s_window_and_glass_floor.jpg. Accessed 22 Feb­ru­ary 2019.

Fig­ure 10: Inco Nick­el Smelter Super­stack, Octo­ber 2006 (P199). https://​com​mons​.wiki​me​dia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​F​i​l​e​:​I​n​c​o​_​S​u​p​e​r​s​t​a​c​k​.​JPG. Accessed 22 Feb­ru­ary 2019.