CN Tower's glass-floored lift not for faint-hearted

TORONTO (Reuters Life!) - Toronto’s CN Tower may no longer be the tallest free-standing structure in the world but it has another unusual feature -- a glass-floored elevator that travels 1,135 feet in a dizzying 58-second journey.

A woman stands on the new glass floor panelled elevator in the CN Tower in Toronto in this photo released on April 9, 2008. REUTERS/CN Tower/Handout

“We like to reinvent ourselves and come up with something new and exciting every year,” Jack Robinson, chief operating officer of the CN Tower, said about the lift that is billed as the world’s No. 1 elevator ride.

Three of the tower’s six glass-fronted elevators will have glass floors by the end of the year. But Robinson said people afraid of heights and speed should not worry.

“It’s very safe and secure, you can stand at the back,” he explained.

The lift operator can also flip a switch and transform the glass floor panel into an opaque white surface.

The panels were designed with the same technology used to create the glass floor inside the tower, which was installed in 1994.

The structure, built by Canadian National Railways in 1976 as a telecommunications tower, is facing competition as the tallest building from the Burj Dubai, a tower under construction in Dubai.

The Burj Dubai announced it had surpassed the height of the CN Tower in September 2007 when it reached 1,821 feet (555 meters). Its projected completion is slated for 2009.

At 1,815 feet, the CN Tower Web site proclaims it is the world’s tallest building. But Robinson says the idea for the glass-floored elevator wasn’t inspired by a desire to compete with the Burj Dubai.

Once the Burj Dubai is finished, its height status will be clear, he said.

“I am not turning the baton over just yet, but when the time comes I will, and if that happens this year, that’ll be 32 years with the record,” he added.

“If they become the world’s tallest, I’ll bet you it’s not for long. There’s always somebody trying to outdo somebody.”

Reporting by Julie Mollins; editing by Patricia Reaney