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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[1] 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.[2]

Tower of the Americas
San Antonio May 2018 8 (Tower of the Americas).jpg
General information
TypeObservation tower
LocationSan Antonio, Texas, U.S.
Coordinates29°25′08″N 98°29′01″W / 29.418888°N 98.483611°W / 29.418888; -98.483611 (Tower of the Americas)Coordinates: 29°25′08″N 98°29′01″W / 29.418888°N 98.483611°W / 29.418888; -98.483611 (Tower of the Americas)
Construction startedAugust 9, 1966
OpeningApril 6, 1968
OwnerCity of San Antonio
ManagementCity of San Antonio and Landry's Restaurants
Height
Antenna spire750 ft (230 m)
Roof622 ft (190 m)
Top floor579 ft (176 m)
Design and construction
ArchitectO'Neil Ford
Entrance to the Tower of the Americas
The very top of tower of Americas
View of Downtown San Antonio from the Tower of the Americas
The three elevators on the exterior of the Tower of the Americas

It was the tallest observation tower in the United States from 1968 until 1996, when the Las Vegas Stratosphere Tower was completed.[3] It is the tallest building in San Antonio, and the 27th-tallest building in Texas.

The tower is located in the middle of the former HemisFair '68 site and has an observation deck that is accessible by elevator for a fee. There is also a lounge and revolving restaurant at the top of the tower that provides panoramic views of the city.[4]

Construction historyEdit

Construction of the tower began on August 9, 1966 and cost $5.2 million. The top house of the building was constructed at ground level and hoisted to the top of the poured concrete shaft. As the top house was being hoisted into place, on October 30, 1967 some of the cables used to hoist it snapped, leaving it resting on and precariously tilted on the Tower’s shaft. Eventually, oil field pipes were used in lieu of cables to complete the job. It was completed in approximately 18 months, though not quite in time for the fair's opening ceremonies held on April 6, 1968. It was opened to the public five days later on April 11. The top house still had not been finished, with construction materials and lumber strewn about.[2]

Tower restaurantEdit

In 2004, Landry's Restaurants, Inc. won the bid for a 15-year lease to manage and operate the property for its owner, the City of San Antonio. Landry's undertook an extensive $8 million renovation of the existing restaurant and lounge and observation deck and added a 4-D film "ride" called "Skies Over Texas," that gives the history of Texas in a film format. Additionally, Landry's spent another $4 million to add approximately 200% more space for ground level attractions such as a gift shop and cafe. Renovations were completed and the tower re-opened with the new Eyes Over Texas Restaurant, Bar 601 and the Flags Over Texas observation deck on June 21, 2006. The restaurant rotates slowly, and observation deck entry is included in the cost of a tower ticket.

In September 2007, Landry's converted the Eyes Over Texas Restaurant into one of its Chart House outlets.[5]

Prior to Landry's, Frontier Enterprises (owner of San Antonio-based Jim's Restaurants) operated the Tower of the Americas' restaurant for more than three decades.

 
CN Tower, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Willis Tower, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Stratosphere, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
• Tower of the Americas, San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
• Space Needle, Seattle, Washington, U.S.

Building heightsEdit

  • 750 ft (229 m) to top of the antenna.
  • 622 ft (190 m) to top of roof.
  • 579 ft (176 m) to indoor observation deck.
  • 560 ft (170 m) to outdoor observation deck.
  • 550 ft (168 m) to restaurant and stationary level.

FM radioEdit

Since 1970 the roof has hosted a 30-meter-tall (98 ft) tapered steel mast, used as support for three FM antennas; 101.9 KQXT (then known as KCOR-FM), 102.7 KJXK (then KTFM), and 104.5 KZEP (then KITE-FM). In 2007, the three individual antennas were replaced by a 16-bay master antenna that radiates all three FM signals including the HD signal for KQXT. Clear Channel Radio and Electronics Research Inc. headed up the project along with their contractors and involved the City of San Antonio and Landry's Restaurants. The new antenna system improved coverage for all three radio stations. An option existed for several years to add facilities for a move in signal on 97.7 (requiring rearrangement of ten other stations) to share the site. This was organized by Bret Huggins and David Stewart of Rawhide Radio, LLC (partly owned by Hispanic Broadcasting now Univision radio).

Transmitters are located between the public areas of the observation deck and the revolving restaurant in equipment bays along with air conditioners and plumbing.

TriviaEdit

The fastest recorded time up the tower's 952 steps is 5 minutes 18 seconds on January 29, 1981.[6]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Gerem, Yves (2001). A Marmac Guide to San Antonio. Gretna: Pelican Publishing Company. p. 271. ISBN 1-56554-821-3.
  2. ^ a b Danini, Carmina (April 5, 2018). "It was McComb's towering achievement". San Antonio Express-News. pp. A1, A11. Retrieved April 8, 2018.
  3. ^ "Tower of the Americas". Emporis.com. Retrieved April 17, 2010.
  4. ^ "Tower of the Americas". Planeteyetraveler.com. Retrieved April 17, 2010.
  5. ^ "A top draw at the tower could be at the bottom". San Antonio Express-News. February 14, 2008. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved October 11, 2009.
  6. ^ San Antonio Express News, January 30, 1981, page 12-A


External linksEdit

Preceded by
Elm Place
Tallest Building in Texas
1968–1974
229m
Succeeded by
Renaissance Tower (Dallas)
Preceded by
None
Tallest Building in Texas Outside of Dallas and Houston
1968–2009
190m
Succeeded by
The Austonian (Austin)
Preceded by
Tower Life Building
Tallest Building in San Antonio
1968–Present
229m
Succeeded by
None