Skylon Tower

Beez Neez now Chy Whella
Big Bear and Pepe Millard
Sun 15 May 2011 17:59
Skylon Tower





I had booked a table for eight o'clock last night, ordered a decorated slice of cake, with a plan to wait for a window seat and Bear to see his birthday at midnight overlooking the lit falls. The day had been covered in fog and Anthony at the hotel cancelled our table - postponing it for tonight - a good decision as indeed all we would have seen was a puff of white and very little else. I had been disappointed but as Bear knew none of this he was very happy to be here as part of his birthday tour of the area. The rain was falling thick and fast now, so a quick dash from the coach to the photography area to get the tourist photos above. This was our last stop of the day. By the time we got in freezing, wet and exhausted, our table for tonight was also postponed. I hope to get Bear to eat here tomorrow. Fingers crossed. The Skylon Tower is an observation tower that overlooks both the American Falls, Bridal Veil and the larger Horseshoe Falls, Ontario from the Canadian side of the Niagara River.



A tourist picture showing the tower with the Maid of the Mist below


History: Construction of the Skylon began in May 1964 and was officially opened on the 6th of October 1965 by New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller and Ontario Premier John Robarts. Costing $7 million at the time of its construction, the Skylon Tower was owned by a private partnership called Niagara International Centre, which was financed by the The Hershey Company shareholdings of Charles Richard Reese, former co-owner of the H. B. Reese Candy Company of Hershey, Pennsylvania. Canadian Pacific Hotels was hired to operate the tower restaurants and lounges. On the 1st of October 1975, CP purchased the tower from Mr. Reese and his partners for $11 million cash. The tower's summit features a verdigris-green copper roof similar to CP's other properties, including the Château Frontenac in Quebec City and the Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alberta. CP owned and operated the tower until 1986, when it was sold for $18 million cash to two local Niagara hotel owners, John Gruyich of Michael's Inn and George Yerich of the Holiday Inn. In 1988, George Yerich bought out John Gruyich's ownership share of the Skylon for $13 million cash, however Milicent Gruyich continues to own the land underneath the Skylon. Mr. Yerich's Skylon land lease will expire in 2064, at which time the Skylon Tower will revert back to total ownership by the heirs of Milicent Gruyich. While much redevelopment has taken place in the surrounding city, the Skylon Tower complex still retains much of its look and feel from the 1970’s and 80’s. However the property has recently been expanded to include a 3D/4D Theatre, two Starbucks franchises, other quick service franchises and a bridge connecting the complex with the newly completed Fallsview Casino. In August and September 2008 the roof of Skylon was restored to its original bright copper colour.




Our views from the lift on this cold and rainy day



Features: Standing at 520 feet from street level and 775 feet from the bottom of the falls, the tower required approval from both Canadian and United States air transport authorities, due to its proximity to the international boundary. It was the second tower to be built using the slipform method, in which concrete is continually poured into a form moving slowly up the tower. It was built by Pigott Construction of Hamilton, Ontario. The same methods were also used to build the Inco Superstack in Sudbury, and the CN Tower in Toronto.



The postcard picture above shows our hotel second from the left. The tower features three outside mounted "Yellow Bug" elevators. At the time of their construction they were the first such elevators in Canada. They were designed, engineered and maintained by a division of the Otis Elevator Company from Hamilton, Ontario and can carry passengers to the top of the tower in 52 seconds. Unlike conventional elevators that are guided by side rails, the Skylon elevators operate with a guide rail on the backside only. Special equipment is employed to prevent the cables from becoming tangled in the wind or impeded by snow and ice in the winter. A curtain wall on the outside of the tower behind each elevator protects the counterweight and traveling cables from the elements.



The tower has two restaurants at its top, the lower Revolving Dining Room and the upper Summit Suite Buffet. The Revolving Dining Room seats 276 people and revolves once every hour by resting on a circular rail that is propelled by a 3 horsepower (2.2 kW) motor. An observation deck sits at the tower's summit, we managed about twenty seconds out there as the wind howled through the exposed fence, taking our breath away. The base of the tower features a number of gift shops, fast food restaurants and a large amusement arcade. A floor for conventions is also available, but has been seldom utilized in recent years. The Skylon Tower is seen in Superman II. It is also used as a police lookout in the 1979 film Search and Destroy starring Perry King and George Kennedy.