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2005 03 30
Tower of Love
imageWe’ve just moved offices, to Spadina north of Queen. Top floor of a warehouse building with views all over the city. And the CN Tower, over-sized, right in our face. Too big to fit in the window.

When I started, the first office had the same view but further back, from College. The tower fit better then, standing just apart from the downtown but in composition with it. Now the Railway Lands apartments crowd around the base, still dwarfed but with the insouciant scale and shoulders that they don’t care.

When the Eiffel Tower was built in the 1880’s all progressive opinion was against it. Zola, de Maupassant, Garnier, Dumas and the rest of right thinking Paris wrote a 300 signature condemnation of the monstrous intrusion in their city’s landscape. No such clamour greeted the CN Tower thirty years ago, but its undeniable presence in the skyline does raise a fundamental question.

Is it beautiful, the CN Tower? Do its perfect curves overcome the concrete thickness of the column? Does the SkyPod add or detract to its essential proportions? Could the stepping in the upper section be more regular? Is it not quite tall enough? Why are there warts and pimples all over it? Is there something essentially teenage about the Tower, a striving gawkiness that’s both endearing and irritating?

The tower looks suddenly older now. More desiccated, almost spindly. Has the midlife erosion of hope in the city aged it? Is that long unconsummated engagement with the SkyDome drying it up? Surely as they both get into their thirties we should do something for them, cloth them in red satin and leave them to it. We need them both to create some passion.

When the Tower was being built I worked in City Hall. I could see it coming up from my desk through one of the side windows. The last sections were lowered on by an enormous helicopter in the last few days of fall before the weather closed in. Toronto had joined the world of cities. It still chases an elusive beauty.
[email this story] Posted by Joe Berridge on 03/30 at 08:02 AM

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