Calgary's iconic tower turns 50

Author: Jasmine Atay

The only constant in life is change and nowhere is that more evident than Calgary’s growing skyline.

The skyline was started from a fort stationed in the middle of the prairies in 1883, grew with the beginning of Stampede in 1912 and boomed after the 1947 discovery of oil reserves in Alberta. Our original city skyline landmark was built in 1967 and has been an iconic structure since - the Husky Tower.

Now known as the Calgary Tower, its conception was part of an increasing need to revitalize Calgary’s downtown core with economic growth in Alberta. The world’s first large-scale oil sands operation was taking root in Fort McMurray and companies like Pan American Petroleum and Transport Company were relocating staff to their headquarters in Calgary. Construction began on February 19, 1967.

The tower’s design included a revolving restaurant and column built out of an unprecedented pouring of concrete for 24 days straight. Industry officials praised it as “an amazing feat of technical and physical workmanship.” The tower's official opening was June 28 to 30, 1968.

Upon completion, it was the tallest structure in Calgary and Canada outside of Toronto. At 187 meters, it dominated the skyline for over a decade, before the Petro-Canada Centre’s west tower surpassed it. Today, the upsurge in skyscrapers, like the Bow and Telus Sky, conceal the tower from some vantage points, but its iconic red trim, keeps it as a favourite photo spot.

The Calgary Tower is a founding member of the World Federation of Great Towers, which celebrates extraordinary buildings that have become symbols of their cities. It’s part of our community with tourists and locals even running the tower’s 762 steps for achievement and philanthropy.

The skyline expansion also represents a healthy economy and change, as companies take root in the downtown core. Regardless, the Calgary Tower was the seed that spurred change and remains at the heart of Calgary’s core.

The Calgary Tower spurred change and remains at the heart of Calgary’s core

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