Observation tower

Last updated
Observation tower in Auersberg, Saxony, Germany Auersberg observation tower (aka).jpg
Observation tower in Auersberg, Saxony, Germany
Haukkavuori's observation tower in Kotka, Kymenlaakso, Finland Haukkavuori.jpg
Haukkavuori's observation tower in Kotka, Kymenlaakso, Finland

An observation tower is a structure used to view events from a long distance and to create a full 360 degree range of vision to conduct long distance observations. Observation towers are usually at least 20 metres (66 ft) tall and are made from stone, iron, and wood. Many modern towers are also used as TV towers, restaurants, or churches. The towers first appeared in the ancient world, as long ago as the Babylonian Empire.

Contents

Observation towers that are used as guard posts or observation posts over an extended period to overlook an area are commonly called watchtowers instead.

Construction and usage

Observation towers are an easily visible sight on the countryside, as they must rise over trees and other obstacles to ensure clear vision. Older control rooms have often been likened to medieval chambers. The heavy use of stone, iron, and wood in their construction helps to create this illusion. Modern towers frequently have observation decks or terraces with restaurants or on the roof of mountain stations of an aerial ropeway. Frequently observation towers are used also as location of radio services within the UHF/VHF range (FM sound broadcasting, TV, public rural broadcasting service, and portable radio service). In some cases this usage of the tower is at least as important as its use as an observation tower. Such towers are usually called TV towers or telecommunication towers. Many towers are also equipped with a tower restaurant and allow visitors access via elevators. Also common is the usage of water towers as observation towers. As in the case of TV towers the visitor will usually reach the observation deck by elevator, which is usually at a lower height above ground The typical height of the observation deck of water towers is 20 metres up to 50 metres, while the typical height of the platform of TV towers is from 80 metres up to 200 metres. Finally, some church towers may have observation decks, albeit often without an elevator. Many other buildings may have towers which allow for observation.

Types

Kirkkovuori Nature Observation tower, Karstula, Central Finland. Aussichtsturm Karstula.JPG
Kirkkovuori Nature Observation tower, Karstula, Central Finland.
Swan Bells Observation tower, Perth, Australia. Swan Bells SMC 2006.jpg
Swan Bells Observation tower, Perth, Australia.
Observation tower at Fotevikens Museum 2007. Utsiktstorn - Fotevikens Museum 2007.jpg
Observation tower at Fotevikens Museum 2007.

Dedicated observation towers

In particular prior to World War I rambler associations, and some municipalities, built observation towers on numerous summits. Usually these towers were built of stone, however sometimes wood or iron was also used. At nearly all these towers access to the observation deck, usually at a height of between 5 and 40 metres, is only possible by way of stairs. Most of these towers are used only for tourism, however some of these towers might also be used, at times of high forest fire risk, as fire observation posts or in times of war as military observation posts with anti-aircraft positions placed beside it. Further uses were not intended at most of these buildings, although some of these towers today now carry antennas for police/fire engine radios, portable radio or low power FM- and TV-transmitters. Older observation towers frequently have a flag pole at its top.

Some of these towers are permanently accessible, either free or with the payment of an admission fee. Others are accessible only at certain times, in most cases only with the payment of an admission fee. At these towers the platform is usually open, with some having a restaurant in the basement. There are also towers with a much more extensive use; for example. the observation tower on Rossberg mountains in Reutlingen contains a hotel within its structure.

Although most of these towers were initially built before World War I, such structures are still being built, in particular as attractions at horticultural shows. Modern observation towers are in most cases no longer built of brick, but concrete, steel and wood are used as the preferred building materials.

Permanent observation towers are also sometimes found in amusement parks, however in parks where each attraction is not separately paid for, panorama rides are preferred.[ citation needed ]

Watch towers

Observation tower in Majdanek concentration camp Majdanek toren.jpg
Observation tower in Majdanek concentration camp
Observation tower at Serpent Mound, Ohio. Serpent Mound tower lg.jpg
Observation tower at Serpent Mound, Ohio.

Watch towers are observation towers, on which persons supervise a larger area. Strictly speaking, control towers also fall into this category, although surveillance from these structures is mostly done in a non-optical way using Radar. Watch towers usually have a closed pulpit to protect the observer against bad weather. Watch towers do not have an elevator as a rule, since these buildings are mostly not higher than 20 metres. Active watch towers are not as a rule accessible to the public, since they usually serve for the monitoring of sensitive ranges. However watch towers can be quite ordered for forest fire monitoring a platform accessible for the public or be used during times without forest fire risk as observation towers. Shut down watch towers can however be easily converted to observation towers.

Radio towers

Also some radio towers were so built that they can be used apart from their function as transmitting tower also as observation tower. A condition for this is a sufficiently stable construction, which permits a permanent safe visitor entrance without interruption of the transmission services. This is the case for towers for radio services in the UHF/VHF-range the case, not however for most types of radio towers for long and medium wave, why a use of these structures as observation tower is impossible in most cases. That the use of a tower as radio tower for medium wave and observation tower not well fits, showed up in Radio Tower Berlin, which originally carried together with an 80 metres high mast a t-antenna for medium wave and stands on insulators. However one notices at the first experimental transmissions that at the tower voltages would arise, which would have unpleasant consequences for visitors and so the tower was grounded by the elevator shaft. However this shifted direction of main beam of transmitter away from actual supply area, the city of Berlin. As before World War II nearly whole radio traffic took place in the long -, medium and shortwave range, first after World War II with introduction of radio services in UHF/VHF-range required towers only acting as antenna carriers, radio towers with observation decks built. For this the closed reinforced concrete construction way was nearly always used. Radio towers with observation decks often serve for TV transmission or for radio relay link services and are called therefore usually TV tower or telecommunication tower. As a rule an elevator is available in these buildings for the visitors of the observation deck, as the observation deck lies usually very highly (mostly within the range between 50 and 200 metres, at some towers also more highly). Many of these towers have also a tower restaurant, which can be designed as revolving restaurant. While tower restaurants for the protection of the restaurant guests from the wind are in closed rooms, the prospect platform can be open or in a closed room. An open platform is more favourable for photographing, since no reflexes at the disk arise, while closed platforms are for many visitors more pleasant. Prospect outlooks on TV towers are opened only at certain times and their entrance is possible only under payment of an admission fee.

Highrise buildings

The Space Needle, an observation tower in Seattle, Washington Space Needle at dusk 2011 - 02.jpg
The Space Needle, an observation tower in Seattle, Washington

Also numerous highrise buildings have observation decks, sometimes even a restaurant. The height of these platforms, which can be glassed or open-air depend on the height of the building, where they are most common on the utmost floor. As a rule the access, that nearly always requires the payment of an admission fee, is possible by elevator and is only possible at dedicated opening times.

Water towers

Also numerous water towers have, a usually open-air observation deck opened for public traffic, whose height is mostly as the height of older observation towers in the height range between 10 and 50 metres. It can be reached depending upon tower by stairs or by an elevator. Some water towers have also a tower restaurant. Prospect platforms of water towers are nearly only accessible under payment during the opening times, which are different for each tower.

Church towers

Also some church towers possess observation decks. However elevators are only available in rare cases. The entrance of this platform is in contrast to the entrance of the church usually only possible under payment an admission fee at the opening times of the church. The height of the observation decks is usually in the range between 20 and 50 metres. The platform is nearly always open-air.

Lighthouses

Some lighthouses have an observation deck open to the public. Access is usually by stairs. An admission fee is often charged and hours may be limited. The observation deck of a lighthouse is usually between 10 and 50 metres high, and is almost always open air.

Sports facilities

Some sports facilities have high buildings with observation decks. This is often the case at ski jumps, as these have a tower and are usually unused in the summer. In addition, there are other sports facilities with observation decks, like the inclined tower of the Montreal Olympic stadium. Access to the platform of nearly all sports facilities with observation deck is only possible during opening times after paying an admission fee. Depending upon the building the access can be done by an elevator and/or a stairway. The platforms can be vitreous or open. The height above ground lies usually between 10 and 50 metres.

Fire lookout towers

Fire lookout towers have been used widely in Australia, Canada, and the United States to hoist fire lookout persons to heights where they can identify and report new wildfires. In the United States, there once were over 5,000 fire lookout towers.

Other towers

The Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand. Sky Tower.jpg
The Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand.

There are also some very unusual observation towers, which fit not well into one of these categories. Examples for this are the Henninger Turm, a grain silo with tower restaurant and observation deck in Frankfurt, the bell tower of Berlin Olympic stadium, whose platform is accessible by an elevator, the winding tower of the mining industry museum in Bochum, which has an open-air observation deck to which an elevator runs or a wind turbine in Holtriem wind park, which is equipped with a closed platform accessible over stairs. Also aerial tramway support towers, which serve as observation tower (and aerial tramway station), were realized, like Torre Jaume I in Barcelona. Even on the pylons of suspension bridges were already observation decks installed, as the example of Nový Most in Bratislava shows. A very unusual observation tower is Pont basculant de la Seyne-sur-Mer. It was once a bascule bridge, now permanently put upright and used as observation tower.

History

Germany

In Germany, observation towers first appeared on the countryside at the end of the 18th century. These early towers were often built by wealthy aristocrats. It wasn't until the mid-19th century that citizens took control of the construction of such towers. In Austria and Switzerland many observation towers were established by alpine and tourist associations, and continue to be cared for by them. In the Waldigen Mountains, many citizen committees were active. Because of the long reign of emperor Franz Joseph, many observation decks carry the name "anniversary observation platform". The invention of the elevator in the late 19th century made taller observation decks possible. Most notably, the Eiffel Tower and the Blackpool Tower were built in this era. Radio towers developed as combined sending and observation tower between 1924 and 1926 in the city of Berlin. After World War II, a great need for tall observation towers arose, due to their dual usage as television and radio transmitters. In large cities, the desire existed to provide these towers with a tower restaurant and an observation deck, in order to make the building of towers more economical via admission fees and increased notability. Several water towers were also built with this in mind, but many have not survived to the modern day.

Notable examples

Jubilaumswarte on Gallitzinberg Wien - Jubilaumswarte.JPG
Jubiläumswarte on Gallitzinberg
Nasinneula close to Lake Nasijarvi and the Sarkanniemi amusement park in Tampere, Finland Sarkanniemi 20150804 cropped Nasinneula.jpg
Näsinneula close to Lake Näsijärvi and the Särkänniemi amusement park in Tampere, Finland

Austria

The Pyramidenkogel tower, the tallest wooden tower in the world is 100 metres (330 ft) tall and rests atop the 851 metres (2,792 ft) Pyramidenkogel mountain in Carinthia, Austria. Another observation tower sits atop the Gallitzinberg forest which in 1956 replaced an older steel tower that had been erected in 1899. Therefore, the present tower is still colloquially known as the Jubiläumswarte ("jubilee tower"). Its topmost platform, 31 metres (102 ft) above ground, offers an impressive panorama of Vienna.

Canada

The CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario is one of the world's tallest observation towers. It previously held the title of tallest free standing structure in the world until 2008 where it was surpassed by the completion of the Burj Khalifa. The Skylon Tower in Niagara Falls, and the Calgary Tower are also notable.

France

The best known observation, radio and television tower is the Eiffel tower (1887-1889) in Paris, standing 300 metres (980 ft) tall. There is the July Column (1835-1840) in Paris, a commemorative column, standing 50 metres (160 ft) tall, the Perret tower (1924-1925) in Grenoble standing 95 metres (312 ft) tall, the Belvédère tower (1898) in Mulhouse standing 20 metres (66 ft) tall.

Germany

Berlin Radio Tower is 150 meters tall. It was built by Straumer, and has a steel lattice construction. It was inaugurated on September 3, 1926. The world's first FM radio programs were broadcast from the tower. It also broadcast the first regular television program, the 1936 Summer Olympics.

Henninger Turm was the world's only silo tower with an observation deck accessible to the public.

Windpark Holtriem is one of the few wind turbines with an observation deck accessible to the public.

Iran

Milad Tower is a tower in Tehran. It stands at 435 metres (1,427 ft) from base to the tip of the antenna.

The Netherlands

The Euromast in Rotterdam gives a splendid view over the largest port in Europe. The observation deck is at 112 metres (367 ft) while the rotating lift reaches 180 metres (590 ft).

Spain

Torre Jaume I is a support pillar of the aerial tramway in Barcelona. It is equipped with an observation deck.

United Kingdom

The Blackpool Tower (still standing) and the New Brighton Tower (demolished) resembled smaller versions of the Eiffel Tower, while Watkin's Tower at Wembley, if completed, would have been taller than the Eiffel Tower.

Radio City Tower (alternatively St. John's Beacon) is a 1960's observation tower in Liverpool which has been granted listed status.

The i360 in Brighton is a 162-metre (531 ft) observation tower and the world's first vertical cable car.

United States

Enger Tower, Reunion Tower, Seattle's Space Needle, Gatlinburg, Tennessee's Space Needle and the Tower of the Americas are some examples of observation towers in the United States. Clingmans Dome Observation Tower and some others are operated by the National Park Service.

See List of tallest observation towers in the United States and Category:Observation towers in the United States.

See also

Notes

    Related Research Articles

    CN Tower Communications and observation tower in Toronto, Canada

    The CN Tower is a 553.3 m-high (1,815.3 ft) concrete communications and observation tower located in Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Built on the former Railway Lands, it was completed in 1976. Its name "CN" originally referred to Canadian National, the railway company that built the tower. Following the railway's decision to divest non-core freight railway assets prior to the company's privatization in 1995, it transferred the tower to the Canada Lands Company, a federal Crown corporation responsible for real estate development.

    Eiffel Tower Tower on the Champ de Mars in Paris, France

    The Eiffel Tower is a wrought-iron lattice tower on the Champ de Mars in Paris, France. It is named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower.

    Tokyo Tower Telecommunications and observation tower in Tokyo, Japan

    The Tokyo Tower is a communications and observation tower in the Shiba-koen district of Minato, Tokyo, Japan. At 332.9 meters (1,092 ft), it is the second-tallest structure in Japan. The structure is an Eiffel Tower-inspired lattice tower that is painted white and international orange to comply with air safety regulations.

    Sky Tower (Auckland)

    The Sky Tower is a telecommunications and observation tower in Auckland, New Zealand. Located at the corner of Victoria and Federal Streets within the city's CBD, it is 328 metres (1,076 ft) tall, as measured from ground level to the top of the mast, making it the tallest freestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere and the 27th tallest tower in the world. It has become an iconic landmark in Auckland's skyline due to its height and design.

    Jin Mao Tower Skyscraper in Shanghai

    The Jin Mao Tower, also known as the Jinmao Building or Jinmao Tower, is a 420.5-meter-tall (1,380 ft), 88-story landmark skyscraper in Lujiazui, Pudong, Shanghai, China. It contains a shopping mall, offices and the Grand Hyatt Shanghai hotel, which at the time of completion was the highest hotel in the world. Along with the Oriental Pearl Tower, the Shanghai World Financial Center and the Shanghai Tower it is part of the Lujiazui skyline seen from the Bund. It was the tallest building in China from its completion in 1999 until 2007, when it was surpassed by the Shanghai World Financial Center which is located close by. The Shanghai Tower, a 121-story building located next to these two buildings, surpassed the height of both these buildings in 2015, creating the world's first trio of adjacent supertall skyscrapers.

    Fernsehturm Berlin

    The Berliner Fernsehturm or Fernsehturm Berlin is a television tower in central Berlin, Germany.

    Kuala Lumpur Tower

    The Kuala Lumpur Tower is a communications tower located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Its construction was completed on 1 March 1995. It features an antenna that increases its height to 421 metres and is the 7th tallest freestanding tower in the world. The roof of the pod is at 335 metres. The rest of the tower below has a stairwell and an elevator to reach the upper area, which also contains a revolving restaurant, providing diners with a panoramic view of the city.

    Almaty Tower

    The Almaty Television Tower, or simply Almaty Tower, is a 371.5-metre-high (1,219 ft) steel television tower built between 1975 and 1983 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The tower is located on high slopes of Kok Tobe mountain south-east of downtown Almaty. Unlike other similar TV towers, it is not a concrete, but a steel tubular structure. It is the tallest free-standing tubular steel structure in the world.

    Riga Radio and TV Tower

    The Riga Radio and TV Tower in Riga, Latvia is the tallest tower in the European Union. It was built between 1979 and 1989 with funding from the central government of the Soviet Union. Its highest point reaches 368.5 metres (1,209 ft), which makes it the third tallest tower in Europe and the 16th tallest self-supporting tower in the world.

    Donauturm

    The Donauturm is a tower in Vienna, the tallest structure in Austria at 252 metres (827 ft), and is the 59th tallest tower in the world. Opening in April 1964, the tower is located near the north bank of the Danube River in the district of Donaustadt. The hills Leopoldsberg and Kahlenberg are visible in the background.

    Tallinn TV Tower

    The Tallinn TV tower is a free-standing structure with an observation deck, built to provide better telecommunication services for the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics regatta event. It is located near the suburb Pirita, six km north-east of the Tallinn city center. With its 313 m (1030.2 ft), the TV tower is the tallest building in Tallinn. The tower was officially opened on 11 July 1980. The viewing platform at a height of 170 metres was open to the public until 26 November 2007, when it was closed for renovation. The tower began receiving visitors again on 5 April 2012. The building is administered by the public company Levira and is a member of the World Federation of Great Towers.

    Liaoning Broadcast and TV Tower

    The Liaoning Broadcast and Television Tower is a tall free-standing structure used for communication. It was built in 1989 in Shenyang, China and is 305.5 metres (1,002 ft) tall. Within the "disk" of the tower, accessible through an elevator, there is an in-door observation deck, rotating restaurant, and a small bar. On the top of the disk is an outdoor observation deck. This tower is in World Federation of Great Towers.

    Berlin Radio Tower

    The Berliner Funkturm or Funkturm Berlin is a former broadcasting tower in Berlin. Constructed between 1924 and 1926 to designs by the architect Heinrich Straumer, it was inaugurated on 3 September 1926, on the occasion of the opening of the third Große Deutsche Funkausstellung in the grounds of the Messe Berlin trade fair in the borough of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf. Nicknamed der lange Lulatsch, the tower is one of the best-known points of interest in the city of Berlin and, while no longer used for broadcasting purposes, it remains a protected monument.

    Burj Khalifa Skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

    The Burj Khalifa, known as the Burj Dubai prior to its inauguration in 2010, is a skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. With a total height of 829.8 m and a roof height of 828 m (2,717 ft), the Burj Khalifa has been the tallest structure and building in the world since its topping out in 2009.

    Sapporo TV Tower

    The Sapporo TV Tower, built in 1957, is a 147.2-metre-high (483 ft) TV tower with an observation deck at a height of 90.38 metres. Located on the ground of Odori Park, in the northern city of Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan, the tower is open to tourists. Tourists can view Sapporo and Odori Park.

    Tower of the Americas

    The Tower of the Americas is a 750-foot (229-meter) observation tower-restaurant located in the Hemisfair district on the southeastern portion of Downtown San Antonio, Texas, United States. The Tower was designed by San Antonio architect O'Neil Ford and was built as the theme structure of the 1968 World's Fair, HemisFair '68. It was named as a result of a Name the Tower contest created by the executive committee. 68 people submitted the name the Tower is now known by.

    Harbour Centre Mixed-use skyscraper in Vancouver, British Columbia

    Harbour Centre is a skyscraper in the central business district of Downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada which opened in 1977. The "Lookout" tower atop the office building makes it one of the tallest structures in Vancouver and a prominent landmark on the city's skyline. With its 360-degree viewing deck, it also serves as a tourist attraction with the Top of Vancouver Revolving Restaurant, offering a physically unobstructed view of the city.

    Cholfirst Radio Tower

    Cholfirst Radio Tower is a 96-metre-tall (315 ft) lattice tower on Cholfirst Mountain at Flurlingen, Canton of Zurich, Switzerland.

    Beijing Olympic Tower Tourist observation tower opened in 2015

    The Beijing Olympic Tower is located on Kehui South Road, part of the Olympic Green in the Chaoyang District of Beijing, China. Construction began in 2011, three years after the 2008 Summer Olympics; it was completed in 2014, and opened on August 8, 2015. It is used strictly for observation; there is no provision for offices or apartments. The design was by a Chinese firm, China Architecture Design & Research Group; a Shenzhen architect alleged that the architects at the firm had plagiarized an award-winning earlier design of his.

    References

    Joachim Kleinmanns: Schau ins Land. Aussichtstürme. Marburg: Jonas-Verlag, 1999, 152 S. brosch., 20 EUR, ISBN   3-89445-252-8