Like almost every other major Canadian city, Calgary was once home to a grand central railway station at the heart of its downtown, next to which an equally grand railway-built hotel was constructed to accommodate the prairie boomtown's many visitors and travellers as they passed through the city. Begun in 1907, the Canadian Pacific Railway station on 9th Avenue in downtown Calgary was built to rival the great rail stations of North America, made of finely cut stone, and featured a beautiful Great Hall which greeted passengers for more than half a century.
Built next door only a few years later, the Palliser Hotel was originally owned and operated by the Canadian Pacific Hotels and Resorts branch of the CPR, in the same fashion as several other railway hotels across Canada, such as the nearby Banff Springs Hotel. Completed in 1914, the Palliser Hotel was designed in the Chicago School Style by the Montreal firm of E. and W.S. Maxwell, with later additions made in the late 1920s.
The CPR Station, along with the bulk of 9th Avenue save for the Palliser Hotel, was demolished in 1966 to make way for the Calgary Tower (formerly the Husky Tower) and Palliser Square. This forever changed the city's relationship to its central railway, eliminating as it did the only downtown connection to intercity passenger rail service.
Today the site of the Calgary Tower and Palliser Square, home to a mix of modern office towers, hotels, and a convention centre, much of the street's historic character has been lost, replaced by a series of 1960s and 70s-era cement structures that appear to dominate the local landscape. While some may lament the loss of the CPR Station for both its utility and architectural beauty, along with the loss of the many historic buildings that once defined the surrounding streetscape, the views from atop the 627-foot Calgary Tower are the best in town, the popular tourist attraction hosts more than half a million visitors per year.
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