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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

World’s tallest free-standing poster

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Some of the best public art reacts to the changes a city undergoes as it grows, and like all cities, Toronto is constantly evolving. Along with the new City Hall and the TD Centre, the CN Tower is one of the few developments that propelled this town into the future.

In response to its construction, artist Rick Simon, who believed the tower was too obtrusive, combined an aerial photo and a map along with a horizontal tower that showed its radius if laid on its side. The posters were printed up at Coach House Press and posted around the "danger zone."

They gave the tower a perspective people on the ground could understand: it's difficult to really know how tall it is when viewed from, say, Queen and Spadina or King and Bay. Sometimes the tower looks stubby, other times it looks like it could cross Lake Ontario.

"It seemed to capture the imagination," says Simon. "The Fall-Zone became part of popular geographic lore even though I never said that it was going to fall." Though he was called a "wag" by a CN Tower spokesperson, Simon was even able to place a poster inside the skin of the top section of the tower.

"One of my friends designed part of the tower and invited me to go up. From the top of the concrete there is a ladder to the top, up the centre of the triangular cross-sectioned metal structure," Simon explains. "That has openings big enough to crawl out through. The poster was put outside the steel structure and sealed with clear sticky Mylar to make it weatherproof. There are two doors opening out to the top but you need to close one of them to have something to stand on. The only thing to hold on to is lightning rods."

Certainly that is one poster that falls outside of any proposed poster bylaws the city might pass, and one that those guys with the high-pressure hoses won't be able to spray off.

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