Nearly 8,000 visitors were expected to take high-speed elevators up to the observation decks of the 634-meter (2,080-foot) tower to mark its opening. Some reportedly waited in line more than a week to get the coveted tickets for a panoramic view, though Tuesday ended up being cloudy in Tokyo.
The Skytree will serve as a broadcast tower for television and radio, along with being a tourist attraction. It replaces the 333-meter-tall (1,092 1/2-foot-tall) Tokyo Tower — a symbol of Japan's capital since 1958 — as the broadcast hub.
Is this tower something to celebrate? As The Christian Science Monitor noted upon the completion of the Burj Khalifa, sometimes such projects can be indicators of economic decline.
The skyscraper index works because developers tend to make ambitious gambles with huge new towers at the point of the business cycle when interest-rate and price signals can get distorted, wrote Mark Thornton, a senior fellow at the Mises Institute, in a 2005 research paper (.pdf). The institute is a research and education center espousing Austrian School economics and based in Auburn, Ala.