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Image courtesy of CN Tower
Image courtesy of CN Tower

10 Big Facts About Toronto’s CN Tower

Image courtesy of CN Tower
Image courtesy of CN Tower

Toronto's CN Tower is one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, and when adding in the height of its antenna on top, it’s the tallest freestanding structure in the western hemisphere. If you want to be higher than the birds, get ready to take flight and zoom up to the top of this iconic building. If you are scared of heights, don’t look down.

1. THE GLASS FLOOR OF THE OBSERVATION LEVEL CAN WITHSTAND THE WEIGHT OF 35 MOOSE.

Go ahead—jump up and down! The CN Tower's Glass Floor was designed to be strong, and can withstand the weight of 35 moose. Load tests are performed yearly (no, not with actual moose). The solid glass is actually five times stronger than what is required for weight-bearing commercial floors, and has the picturesque bonus of being situated 113 stories above the ground—perfect for a selfie.

2. TWICE A YEAR, YOU CAN TAKE THE STAIRS ALL THE WAY UP.

Fair warning for interested parties: that is a total of 1776 stairs (144 flights). Each year, the CN Tower hosts two fundraising stair climbs—one for the World Wildlife Fund of Canada, the other for United Way of Greater Toronto—that attract more than 20,000 participants and raise more than $2.5 million annually. 

3. THERE'S A TIME CAPSULE IN THE WALL OF THE TOWER'S LOOKOUT LEVEL.

As part of the tower's grand opening in 1976, a time capsule was placed in the wall of the building's LookOut level. Included in the time capsule are copies of three local newspapers, Canadian coins, letters from children, and a letter from then-Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (the father of current Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau). The plan is to open the capsule in 2076.

4. ON A CLEAR DAY, YOU CAN SEE NIAGARA FALLS FROM THE TOP.

From the Tower's SkyPod level, visibility can be up to 100 miles on a clear day, making it possible to see Niagara Falls and New York State. (Binoculars may help.)

5. IT'S A TARGET FOR LIGHTNING.

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

This mighty tall tower is Toronto’s biggest lightning rod. According to Geoffrey Coulson, an Environment Canada meteorologist, the CN Tower is typically struck by lightning 75 to 80 times a year—but sometimes it’s much more frequent. In August of 2011, the tower was struck by lightning 52 times in 84 minutes. As for visiting: It’s safe for visitors to be there during a storm, since the tower channels the lightning charge through long copper strips. In fact, in 2015, a representative for the tower told the Toronto Star that “a lightning strike is not discernible to anyone inside the CN Tower. The sky may flash white for an instant. It is most visible outside and away from the tower.”

6. IF YOU'RE DARING ENOUGH, YOU CAN LEAN BACK—HANDS-FREE—OVER TORONTO.

Adventurous types can sign up to experience the tower's EdgeWalk, which allows you to take a stroll along a five-foot-wide ledge on the top of the building's main pod—outside. You are attached to an overhead safety rail and harness system, which allows you to physically lean back for a great view of Lake Ontario. It's definitely not for the faint of heart, and it doesn't come cheap. Tickets are $195 (though that comes with a video to prove to your family and friends that you actually did it).

7. THE TOWER'S COLORS ARE CONSTANTLY CHANGING.

The CN Tower's funky LED illumination light system is energy-efficient, low-maintenance, and free of UV radiation. It can also be controlled and directed, meaning that the Tower's colors regularly change; it goes green for Earth Day, turns blue for the Toronto Blue Jays's home opener, and becomes red and pink for Mother’s Day. This system also lets the city pay tribute to events around the world; in 2015, following the terror attacks in Paris, the tower was illuminated with the colors of the French flag—red, white, and blue.

8. IT'S GOT THE CLEAREST RECEPTION IN NORTH AMERICA.

The 335-foot steel communications antenna at the very top of the CN Tower broadcasts more than 30 Toronto television and FM radio signals, as well as microwave transmissions and wireless telephone signals. The antenna, which consists of 44 pieces, was put into place by a 10-ton Sikorsky helicopter named Olga. (Because what else would you name a helicopter?)

9. IT'S HOME TO THE WORLD'S HIGHEST WINE CELLAR.

In 1997 the “wine cellar in the sky” opened at 360, a revolving restaurant at the top of the tower. In 2006, Guinness World Records dubbed it the world's highest wine cellar (it's situated 1151 feet above the ground in Toronto). It can hold an impressive amount of vino, too—up to 9000 bottles. Cheers!

10. LAST YEAR, TWO DAREDEVILS JUMPED FROM THE TOP OF THE TOWER.

In 2015, as part of the Pan Am Games, French BASE jumpers Fred Fugen and Vince Reffet surprised onlookers when they jumped from the top of the tower while film crews and a crowd looked on. (Yes, they had parachutes).

All images courtesy of CN Tower unless otherwise noted.

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History
The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images
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This Just In
For $61, You Can Become a Co-Owner of This 13th-Century French Castle
Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images
Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images

A cultural heritage restoration site recently invited people to buy a French castle for as little as $61. The only catch? You'll be co-owning it with thousands of other donors. Now thousands of shareholders are responsible for the fate of the Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers in western France, and there's still room for more people to participate.

According to Mashable, the dilapidated structure has a rich history. Since its construction in the 13th century, the castle has been invaded by foreign forces, looted, renovated, and devastated by a fire. Friends of Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers, a small foundation formed in 2016 in an effort to conserve the overgrown property, want to see the castle restored to its former glory.

Thanks to a crowdfunding collaboration with the cultural heritage restoration platform Dartagnans, the group is closer than ever to realizing its mission. More than 9000 web users have contributed €51 ($61) or more to the campaign to “adopt” Mothe-Chandeniers. Now that the original €500,000 goal has been fulfilled, the property’s new owners are responsible for deciding what to do with their purchase.

“We intend to create a dedicated platform that will allow each owner to monitor the progress of works, events, project proposals and build a real collaborative and participatory project,” the campaign page reads. “To make an abandoned ruin a collective work is the best way to protect it over time.”

Even though the initial goal has been met, Dartagnans will continue accepting funds for the project through December 25. Money collected between now and then will be used to pay for various fees related to the purchase of the site, and new donors will be added to the growing list of owners.

The shareholders will be among the first to see the cleared-out site during an initial visit next spring. The rest of the public will have to wait until it’s fully restored to see the final product.

[h/t Mashable]

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