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17 sensational observation towers that aren't in Paris

By: Matt Hickman on Aug. 5, 2016, 10:39 a.m.
The Blackpool Tower and its shoreline

Photo: Ingy The Wingy/flickr

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Blackpool Tower

Soaring 518 feet over the fading seaside resort of Blackpool — a.k.a. the Coney Island or, more aptly, the Asbury Park, of North West England — this Victorian-era Lancastrian landmark built from iron and steel may be disregarded as Eiffel Tower-lite by some observation tower purists considering that, unlike its twice-as-tall Parisian inspiration erected just five years prior in 1889, it's not a freestanding structure.

Pshaw! Blackpool Tower is still a bona fide British tourist magnet up there with Big Ben, the Tower Bridge and, um, Devon's garden gnome sanctuary. Topped with a lift-accessible "Eye" complete with glass-bottomed observation deck, the tower emerges from a hulking, promenade-facing brick base structure — and what a gloriously action-packed base structure it is.

You see, the complex beneath the Blackpool Tower is arguably as famous as the view-heavy tower itself. It's home to both the historic Tower Ballroom and the Tower Circus, a long-running extravaganza that's been animal-free since 1990. And while Dr. Cocker's Aquarium, Aviary and Menagerie is long gone from its original site, in its placem tracksuit-clad visitors will find Blackpool Tower Dungeon, an attraction billed as "the ultimate thrill-filled journey through 1,000 years of Lancashire's murky past."

We'll stick to the tower, thanks.