World's tallest tower is now in Tokyo

World's tallest tower: The Skytree tower opened Tuesday in Tokyo. At 2,080-feet, the Skytree now surpasses the Canton Tower in China.

A view of Tokyo Skytree, the world's tallest broadcasting tower at 634 metres (2080 feet), in Tokyo. The tower opened to the public on Tuesday, with hundreds of people entering the tower and its large shopping mall.

he world's tallest tower and Japan's biggest new landmark, the Tokyo Skytree, opened to the public on Tuesday.

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.

Skytree is recognized by Guinness World Records as the tallest tower, beating out the Canton Tower in China, which is 600 meters (1,968 1/2 feet).

The world's tallest structure is Dubai's Burj Khalifa, which stands 828 meters (2,717 feet). That's in a different category because it's a skyscraper, not a tower.

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.

In 2014, China is expected to complete the Shanghai Tower, which at 2,073 feet will be the country's tallest building, and the world's tallest after the Burj Dubai.

IN PICTURES: Tallest buildings on Earth

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