Information

Northern Life Tower


D.B. Morgan founded the Northern Life Insurance Company in Seattle, with assets of $170,232 and a 12-by-12 foot office in the Colman Building. Morgan decided to construct his own building.The plan to construct the building was announced in April 1927, at a cost of $1.5 million. Originally a 24-story building, the Northern Life Tower was increased to 27 stories, thus when it was completed it was one floor higher above sea level than the Smith Tower, which had previously been referred to as "the tallest building west of the Mississippi."Completed in 1928, the Northern Life Tower, a true skyscraper, located at 1212 3rd Avenue, right across the street from The Cobb Building, represents a dramatic shift in the skyline of Seattle. Buildings of the early 20th-century were based on classical styles.However, by the 1920s, architects began to favor designs that attempted to emulate the speed, efficiency, and power found within technology, perceived by many as humanity`s hope for the future.The Northern Life Tower was the first building in Seattle to illustrate this style, now known as Art Deco or Art Moderne. Derived from Eliel Saarinen`s famous, second-place proposal for the Chicago Tribune contest, the Northern Life Tower building beautifully illustrates the increasing popularity of a simple, smooth, almost machine-like exterior.This faith in progress also appeared in the lighting that once fully illuminated the building, more than 200 floodlights faded into one another in a grand canvas meant to imitate the aurora borealis, and illustrate the belief that science could emulate nature`s incredible wonders.Today, newer and taller skyscrapers dwarf the building, and the lights are all gone, but it remains one of the Northwest`s most elegant Art-Deco works of art.


A Sacred Site to American Indians

To return to more pages about the history and culture of Devils Tower National Monument, use the links below:

The following peoples have geographical, historical and/or cultural ties to the Tower:

Ceremonies may occur at the Tower any time of the year, and are not always visible to visitors.

Cultural and Spiritual Connections

The connections which tie American Indian culture to the place known as Devils Tower are both ancient and modern. Oral histories and sacred narratives explain not only the creation of the Tower, but also its significance to American Indians. They detail peoples' relationships with the natural world, and establish those relationships through literal and symbolic language. Today there are several sources one can reference to read the various oral histories. 2

Modern connections are maintained through personal and group ceremonies. Sweat lodges, sun dances, and others are still practiced at the monument today. 1 The most common ritual that takes place at the Tower are prayer offerings. Colorful cloths or bundles are placed near the Tower - commonly seen along the park's trails - and represent a personal connection to the site. They are similar to ceremonial objects from other religions, and may represent a person making an offering, a request, or simply in remembrance of a person or place. As with many religious ceremonies, they are a private to the individual or group. Please do not touch, disturb or remove prayer cloths or other religious artifacts at the park.

It is important to note a key difference between American Indian religions and many other contemporary religions (referred to as "western" or "near eastern" religions): a sense of place dominates the religion of American Indians, as opposed to the sense of time that dominates many western religions. Instead of a focus of chronological events and the order in which they are presented, American Indian religion focuses on a place and the significant events that are connected with that location. Although western religions have their important places, they do not hold the level of sacredness associated with the important places of American Indian religions.

The Sun Dance ceremony is often held at the park, although not every year. This photo shows the set up of a site from the 1980s.

Many of the tribes below have a sacred narrative, or oral history, about the creation of the Tower. You can read some of these oral histories on our park website.

Arapahoes call Devils Tower "Bear's Tipi." 1

Sherman Sage, an Arapahoe, said that his grandfather, Drying-Up-Hide, was buried near the Tower. 2

The Cheyenne call Devils Tower "Bear's Lodge," "Bear's House," "Bear's Tipi," and "Bear Peak." 1

The Cheyenne camped and hunted at Bear's Lodge in the winter and consider it a holy place. 2

"A band of Cheyenne Indians went on one of its visits to 'Bear's Tipi' to worship the Great Spirit, as did many other tribes before the white man came. The Cheyenne braves took their families with them as they felt that would be safe, as Bear's Tipi was a holy place." 2

Devils Tower is where Sweet Medicine died and it is his final earthly resting place. Sweet Medicine is the great culture hero of the Cheyenne who brought the Four Sacred Arrows to the tribe. The Four Sacred Arrows' sanctuary was located within a secret cave on the south side of Bear's Lodge. 1 Sweet Medicine also founded the Cheyenne Warrior Societies, tribal government, special laws, and ceremonies. As Sweet Medicine lay dying in a hut by Bear's Lodge, he foretold a dark prophecy of the coming of the horsethe disappearance of the old ways and the buffalo, to be replaced by slick animals with split hoofs the people must learn to eat (cattle). He told of the coming of white men, strangers called Earth Men who could fly above the earth, take thunder from light, and dig up the earth and drain it until it was dead. 2

The Crow call Devils Tower "Bear Lodge." 1

The Crow people were known to fast and worship at Devils Tower and built small stone "dream houses" there as part of these vision quests. The stone dream houses were about as long as a man is tall. A man would recline inside with his head to the east and feet to the west, "like the rising and setting sun." 2

The Kiowa call Devils Tower "Aloft on a Rock" and "Tree Rock." The oral histories of the Kiowa people link Tree Rock with their astronomical knowledge. 1

". origin memories of American Indian people reveal none anywhere 'as bright- and remote-' as the Kiowas memories of their days in the Black Hills and at Devils Tower." 2

The Lakota people call Devils Tower "Bear Lodge," "Bear Lodge Butte," "Grizzly Bear's Lodge," "Mythic-owl Mountain," "Grey Horn Butte," and "Ghost Mountain." 1 Of the may tribes associated with the Tower, the Lakotas arguably have the strongest connections (or at least the most well-documented).

The Lakotas often had winter camps at Devils Tower, documented as far back as 1816. Lakotas have an ancient and sacred relationship with the Black Hills, including Bear Lodge and Inyan Kara. The Black Hills are the Lakotas' place of creation. 1

A Sioux legend tells of a Lakota band camped in the forest at the foot of Bear Lodge. They were attacked by a band of Crow. With the assistance of a huge bear, the Lakota were able to defeat the Crow. 2

At Devils Tower, they fasted, prayed, left offerings, worshipped the "Great Mystery" (the essence of Lakota spiritual and religious life), and performed sweatlodge ceremonies. Lakota pray for health, welfare, and personal direction. 1

The healing ceremony is known to have been performed at Bear Lodge, conducted by a healing shaman. The Great Bear, Hu Numpa, imparted the sacred language and ceremonies of healing to Lakota shamans at Bear Lodge. In this way, Devils Tower is considered the birthplace of wisdom. 1

"White Bull told of 'honor men' among the people who went up close to Devils Tower for four-day periods, fasting and praying. There they slept on beds of sagebrush, taking no food or water during this time. Once, five great Sioux leaders-Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, Gall, and Spotted Tail-went there together to worship. We did not worship the butte, but worshipped our God." 2

Vision quests are a very intense form of prayer requiring much preparation, fasting, purification rite (sweatlodge/inipi), and solitude. 1 It is a ritual integral to the construction of Lakota identity. In addition to learning lore and moral teachings, individuals who seek visions "often regain clarity of purpose in their lives and a secure identity as a member of their tribe." Men and women may seek a vision for a variety of reasons: to give thanks, to ask for spiritual guidance, or simply to pray in solitude. 3 One of Devils Tower National Monument's archaeological sites, assessed by archaeologist Bruce Jones in 1991, is a post-1930's shelter made of stone and wood which could have been used for vision quests.

A Lakota legend tells of a warrior undergoing a vision quest at the base of Bear Lodge for two days. Suddenly, he found himself on the summit. He was frightened since he did not know how to get back down. After praying to the Great Spirit for assistance he fell asleep. Upon awakening, he found himself back down from the butte. 2

The Lakotas traditionally held their sacred Sun Dance at Devils Tower around the summer solstice. The Belle Fourche River was known to the Lakotas as the Sun Dance River. 1 Bear Lodge is considered a sacred place of renewal. The Sun Dance is a ceremony of fasting and sacrifice that leads to the renewal of the individual and the group as a whole. The Sun Dance takes away the pain of the universe or damage to Nature. The participant suffers so that Nature stops suffering. The Sun Dance is ". the supreme rite of sacrifice for the society as a whole [and] a declaration of individual bravery and fortitude. Young men went through the Sun Dance annually to demonstrate their bravery as though they themselves had been captured and tortured, finally struggling to obtain their freedom." 3 The tearing of the pierced flesh is symbolic of obtaining freedom and renewal. NPS records indicate that modern Sun Dance ceremonies have been held at Devils Tower since 1983.

The Lakotas also received the White Buffalo Calf Pipe, the most sacred object of the Lakota people, at Bear Lodge by White Buffalo Calf Woman, a legendary spiritual being. The sacred pipe's sanctuary was located within a secret cave on the north side of Bear Lodge. 1 In 1875, General George A. Custer swore by the pipe that he would not fight Indians again. "He who swears by the pipe and breaks oaths, comes to destruction, and his whole family dies, or sickness comes upon them." 3 Pipes often are held as sacred objects used in vision quests, Sun Dances, sweatlodge rites, and in making peace.

The Eastern (Plains) Shoshone claim to have a sacred association with Devils Tower. Their religious world, however, is kept very secret and, as a result, cannot be documented at this time.


The Old Testament - A Brief Overview

According to the Bible, the families of the sons of Noah represent all of the racial groups upon the earth. Chapter 10 of Genesis lists a total of 70 individual founders of nations or racial groups, and divides them into three primary classifications: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. It is interesting to note that Ethnologists generally agree that mankind divides into three basic groups. Here is how the Bible divides them geographically:

Shem's Descendants. Central Nations

Shemites included Jews, Assyrians, Syrians, Elamites, in north Euphrates Valley and its borders.

Ham's Descendants. South Nations

Hamites went Southward. The names given seem to be South and Central Arabia, Egypt (Heb. Mitzraim or Lands of Ham), East Mediterranean, and East Africa. There was at one point a great migration to Egypt, but Canaan (son of Ham) settled in the land later called Israel.

Japheth's Descendants. North Nations

Japhethites went Northward, and settled in the areas around the Black and Caspian Seas. They became the great Caucasian races of Europe and Asia.

An interesting event happened in Genesis 11. Proud and rebellious men desired to build a city and make a name for themselves under the leadership of Nimrod, so they built a tower, in the land of Shinar (Babel), that would reach to heaven. This was the first organized system of idolatry recorded after the flood. They also disobeyed God's command to be fruitful and fill the earth. God condemned their arrogant ways by coming down and confusing their languages (probably racial distinctions also) which forced them to scatter throughout the whole earth. Before this they all spoke one language.

So what does all this tell us? There are many things but two facts should be mentioned.

First, man is given over to sin and rebellion, as Jeremiah' the prophet said:

Jer 17:9 "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked who can know it?

Secondly, it tells us that God loves man unconditionally and, though He will not tolerate disobedience, He will fulfill His promises to redeem humanity and go to whatever measure to keep anyone from thwarting His purposes.


In 1889, Paris hosted an Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair) to mark the 100-year anniversary of the French Revolution. More than 100 artists submitted competing plans for a monument to be built on the Champ-de-Mars, located in central Paris, and serve as the exposition’s entrance. The commission was granted to Eiffel et Compagnie, a consulting and construction firm owned by the acclaimed bridge builder, architect and metals expert Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel. While Eiffel himself often receives full credit for the monument that bears his name, it was one of his employees𠅊 structural engineer named Maurice Koechlin—who came up with and fine-tuned the concept. Several years earlier, the pair had collaborated on the Statue of Liberty’s metal armature.

Did you know? The base pillars of the Eiffel Tower are oriented with the four points of the compass.

Eiffel reportedly rejected Koechlin’s original plan for the tower, instructing him to add more ornate flourishes. The final design called for more than 18,000 pieces of puddle iron, a type of wrought iron used in construction, and 2.5 million rivets. Several hundred workers spent two years assembling the framework of the iconic lattice tower, which at its inauguration in March 1889 stood nearly 1,000 feet high and was the tallest structure in the world𠅊 distinction it held until the completion of New York City’s Chrysler Building in 1930. (In 1957, an antenna was added that increased the structure’s height by 65 feet, making it taller than the Chrysler Building but not the Empire State Building, which had surpassed its neighbor in 1931.) Initially, only the Eiffel Tower’s second-floor platform was open to the public later, all three levels, two of which now feature restaurants, would be reachable by stairway or one of eight elevators.


Big Ben

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Big Ben, tower clock, famous for its accuracy and for its massive bell. Strictly speaking, the name refers to only the great hour bell, which weighs 15.1 tons (13.7 metric tons), but it is commonly associated with the whole clock tower at the northern end of the Houses of Parliament, in the London borough of Westminster. The tower itself was formally known as St. Stephen’s Tower until 2012, when it was renamed Elizabeth Tower on the occasion of Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, celebrating 60 years on the British throne. The hands of the clock are 9 and 14 feet (2.7 and 4.3 metres) long, respectively, and the clock tower rises about 320 feet (97.5 metres). Originally in coordination with the Royal Greenwich Observatory, the chimes of Big Ben have been broadcast—with a few interruptions—since 1924 as a daily time signal by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

What is Big Ben?

Big Ben is a tower clock known for its accuracy and for its massive hour bell. Strictly speaking, the name refers only to the bell, which weighs 15.1 tons (13.7 metric tons), but it is commonly associated with the whole clock tower at the northern end of the Houses of Parliament, in the London borough of Westminster.

How is Big Ben powered?

Big Ben’s clock is powered by a double three-legged gravity escapement designed by Edmund Beckett Denison in 1851, which imparted unprecedented accuracy. Essentially, this invention prevents the large hands of the clock from being vulnerable to external influences, such as birds or gusts of wind, that might otherwise interfere with the swing of the clock’s pendulum.

When does Big Ben chime?

Big Ben chimes every hour, and smaller bells around it chime every 15 minutes to mark each quarter hour.

What is Big Ben’s formal name?

The tower housing Big Ben was formally known as St. Stephen’s Tower until 2012, when it was renamed Elizabeth Tower on the occasion of Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, celebrating 60 years on the British throne.

How did Big Ben get its nickname?

The origins of Big Ben’s nickname are uncertain, but one theory proposes that it comes from the heavyweight boxer Benjamin Caunt. Another suggests that the true inspiration for the bell’s moniker was a Welsh civil engineer named Sir Benjamin Hall, who served in the House of Commons.

The clock was designed by Edmund Beckett Denison (later Sir Edmund Beckett and Lord Grimthorpe) in association with Sir George Airy (then astronomer royal) and the clockmaker Edward Dent. Denison’s principal contribution was a novel gravity escapement that imparted unprecedented accuracy to the clock. In a pendulum clock an escape wheel is allowed to rotate through the pitch of one tooth for each double swing of the pendulum and to transmit an impulse to the pendulum to keep it swinging. An ideal escapement would transmit the impulse without interfering with the free swing, and the impulse should be as uniform as possible. The double three-legged gravity escapement designed by Denison for Big Ben achieves the second of these but not the first. Big Ben is wound three times a week, and the winding takes over an hour. Big Ben is accurate to within two seconds per week. The pendulum is adjusted by adding pennies made before the decimalization of the United Kingdom’s currency in 1971 to the weight. Each penny causes Big Ben to gain 0.4 second per day.

In 1852 Dent won the commission to make the great clock, but he died before completing the project, and it was subsequently finished by his son, Frederick Dent. The clock and bell were installed together in 1859. The nickname is said by some historians to stand for Sir Benjamin Hall, the commissioner of works.

The first casting of the bell had failed the second casting was made by George Mears of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and was pulled to the tower by a wagon team of 16 horses. Shortly after it was installed, it too developed a crack and was kept out of service until its repair in 1862. Denison blamed the crack on the foundry, which sued him for libel (the case was settled out of court). For two years during World War I, Big Ben’s bell was silent to prevent enemy aircraft from using it to hone in on the Houses of Parliament, and during World War II its clock was not illuminated for the same reason. In 1934 and 1956 the bell was restored and repaired. Maintenance work was performed on the clock in 2007. On August 21, 2017, Big Ben stopped chiming, as the tower was undergoing a four-year restoration project during which the bell was scheduled to ring only for special events, notably New Year’s Eve and Remembrance Sunday.


The tower weighs 80 million pounds and has 952 steps to get to the top. The concrete shaft in the center is 45 feet in diameter. The three elevators can carry 1,950 passengers per hour. At 800 feet-per-minute, it takes only 43 seconds for the elevators to climb to the top. The height of the concrete shaft - which is partially hidden inside the top house is 605 feet tall.

The "top house" - the round revolving structure at the top of the tower is 76 feet tall. The "top house" is so well-balanced that it takes just a 1 horsepower motor to rotate the structure.

The tower's restaurant at the top is named "The Eyes of Texas" and occupies 10,150 square feet. The surrounding observation levels are 8,800 square feet and the external observation deck can accommodate a maximum of 340 people, while the internal deck can accommodate 500 people.

The stairs, elevators, and mechanical in top house occupy 1,150 square feet.


Northern pike

Northern pike are cannibalistic and become so when they reach their juvenile life history stage. Pike feces are avoided by other fish because it contains “alarm” pheromones. Although numerous attempts have been made to culture or rear northern Pike, none have been successful because these fish will not accept artificial food. Northern pike are a highly sought after recreational fish species and also prized for the taste of the white flakey flesh.

SIZE: Northern pike can attain lengths up to 4.5 feet (137 cm) and weigh up to 62.5 lbs. (28.4 kg)

RANGE: Northern Pike are distributed between the Arctic portions of North America, Europe, Asia, and Siberia. Most populations of northern pike are north of latitude 40 degrees north. The range of northern pike in North America extends from Alaska through Canada to the upper mid-western portion of the United States. Northern pike have been widely introduced and transplanted throughout Europe. In some cases, several countries have reported adverse ecological effects resulting from these northern pike introductions.

HABITAT: Northern pike inhabit freshwater, are demersal and can inhabit waters from 0 to 30 m (0 – 100 feet). These fish occur in clear vegetated lakes, quiet pools and the backwaters of creeks and small to large rivers.

DIET: Northern pike feed on invertebrates, fishes, amphibians, small mammals such as voles, shrews and red squirrels, and waterfowl. As a matter of fact, large northern pike are so opportunistic that a bald eagle chick was found in the stomach of a large female northern pike.

Natural History

Northern pike are circumpolar in the freshwater world of the northern hemisphere. Adult northern pike are usually solitary and highly territorial. Spawning adults will begin to move inshore or upstream to marsh areas to spawn as soon as the ice begins to break up or thaw in early spring. Spawning will normally occur during daylight hours in shallow quiet areas with a weed bottom.

Male northern pike begin courting the female pike by nudging her head region. The male northern pike then follows this head nudging behavior with multiple thrusting movements, to entice the female to extrude her eggs. As the female begins to release her eggs, the male pike will simultaneously begin to release his milt and fertilize the eggs as they settle down to the bottom.

The fertilized eggs will then hatch sometime in the next two to five weeks. Upon hatching, young pike will attach themselves to freshwater weeds and live off of their yolk sac while their mouths are still developing. Upon full development of their mouths, the young pike will feed on zooplankton and then graduate to insects and ultimately other fish and other prey.

Conservation

Northern pike are a prized recreational fish in the United States and an important commercial fish in Canada. In the state of Alaska they also comprise an important subsistence fishery.

It has been demonstrated that northern pike can have negative ecological impacts on aquatic ecosystems when introduced into non‐native waters.


Nesting

Nest Placement

Common Ravens build their nests on cliffs, in trees, and on structures such as power-line towers, telephone poles, billboards, and bridges. Cliff nests are usually under a rock overhang. Tree nests tend to be in a crotch high in the tree, but below the canopy and typically farther down in a tree than a crow’s nest would be.

Nest Description

Males bring some sticks to the nest, but most of the building is done by females. Ravens break off sticks around 3 feet long and up to an inch thick from live plants to make up the nest base, or scavenge sticks from old nests. These sticks, and sometimes bones or wire as well, are piled on the nest platform or wedged into a tree crotch, then woven together into a basket. The female then makes a cup from small branches and twigs. The cup bottom is sometimes lined with mud, sheep’s wool, fur, bark strips, grasses, and sometimes trash. The whole process takes around 9 days, resulting in an often uneven nest that can be 5 feet across and 2 feet high. The inner cup is 9-12 inches across and 5-6 inches deep. Nests are often reused, although not necessarily by the same birds, from year to year.

Nesting Facts

Clutch Size:3-7 eggs
Number of Broods:1 brood
Egg Length:1.7-2.0 in (4.4-5.2 cm)
Egg Width:1.2-1.4 in (3.1-3.6 cm)
Incubation Period:20-25 days
Nestling Period:28-50 days
Egg Description:Green, olive, or blue, often mottled with dark greenish, olive, or purplish brown.
Condition at Hatching:Naked except for sparse tufts of grayish down, eyes closed, clumsy, and looking like “grotesque gargoyles” according to a 1945 description.

HERITAGE TOUR

Since 2019, heritage tours around the Blackpool Tower building have been available for guests.

Embark on a historical journey through the building with a specialist tour guide. All tours include a commemorative souvenir guide and will take you through the building, with your tour guide telling you all about our 125-year history.


The Life And Death Of Tower Records, Revisited

On top of the world: Tower Records founder Russ Solomon above his Sacramento, Calif., store in 1989.

Courtesy of All Things Must Pass

These days, virtually every type of music imaginable is at our fingertips nearly anytime, anywhere. But for decades, getting that kind of access meant trekking to an actual store, where the store buyers were tastemaking kings. Throughout much of the 1980s, and especially during the CD boom of the '90s, Tower Records locations across the U.S. were meccas for music fans.

Actor Colin Hanks — Tom's son — loved Tower so much, he spent seven years making a documentary about the chain. It's a love letter to Tower Records called All Things Must Pass.

"Tower sort of helped pave the way for your identity," Hanks says. "For lack of a better phrase, music makes people, sometimes, where you sort of latch on to music as a way of identifying yourself or your tribe. I got that at Tower Records."

In Hanks' documentary, you see founder Russ Solomon and his innermost circle — many of whom were there when Tower was founded in California — having a ball building this thing together.

Everyone, from clerks to customers, could feel those good vibrations. During its flush years, Tower was a pilgrimage place for music fanatics — even for the world's biggest stars. Elton John talked to Hanks about how he'd go into one of the Los Angeles stores every week to buy stacks of new releases.

"Tuesday mornings, I would be at Tower Records," John says in the film. "And it was a ritual, and it was a ritual I loved. I mean, Tower Records had everything. Those people knew their stuff. They were really on their ball. I mean, they just weren't employees that happened to work at a music store. They were devotees of music."

Solomon let them decide what each store stocked, Hanks says.

"New Orleans had a huge heritage music section Nashville had a gigantic country section," he says. "Tower was, in essence, a bunch of mom and pop record stores, you know? Although they were all under the same banner, the same name, the same yellow-and-red signage, each one was run individually by the people in the stores: the clerks, the buyers for each individual store, the art department from each individual store. Each store represented its city or its neighborhood in the city. They all had their own style."

The Decade In Music: '00s

2006 And The Death Of Tower Records

Tower started out as an offshoot of Solomon's father's drugstore in Sacramento, Calif. He tells Hanks how he got his friends and relatives to help him get off the ground.

"Luckily, my cousin Ross was a builder — electrical, carpentry," Solomon says in the documentary. "And so he volunteered, 'Oh, I'll go down and fix it up, put some lighting in there, put a new floor in, and paint it.' And that was it. He went in and did it."

Solomon's California inner circle eventually became some of Tower's top brass, and that family atmosphere spread as the company expanded. Jason Sumney started out as a clerk at Tower's store at 4th and Broadway in New York before moving into its regional operations.

"Never in my life before, and probably never again, will I experience anything like that," Sumney says. "Everybody got along, and it was such an amazing vibe. Every day was fun, you know? Even the downs were fun."

Over the years, Tower grew and grew. It became a multinational empire, with stores and licensees from London to Buenos Aires to Tokyo. But in 2006, Tower declared bankruptcy.

Ed Christman has been reporting on music retailers for Billboard magazine for 26 years. "It took eight or nine years to unfold," Christman says. "The things that proved to be a mistake, in hindsight, occurred in 1998."

Christman says that Tower wasn't alone in the hunger to expand that eventually proved to be its undoing.

"There was at least 10 or 15 large chains that were racing to be the dominant force in music, and Tower decided to take on $110 million in debt," Christman says. "So they did a bond offering, and they were going to use that debt to drive global expansion. It was just the mood of the day — it was grow and go."

Tower's competitors weren't just other record stores. Big-box outlets like Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy wanted music fans' dollars, too. But they discounted CD prices drastically to get customers through their doors, in hopes that they'd also pile things like clothes, pet food, batteries and TVs into their shopping baskets.

"What they did was they looked at the basket — was the basket profitable?" Christman says. "So if there was a lot of other items in there, they didn't care if it was music or not. Whereas at the record store, Tower Records, they needed everything in the basket to be profitable."

Tower couldn't afford to discount CDs much. And Tower couldn't persuade consumers to spend somewhere between $12 and $19 for an album. Solomon couldn't persuade the labels to lower their prices or start selling CD singles.

By then, music fans had already started turning to other options, from file-sharing sites like Napster to download stores like iTunes.

Hanks contends that Tower started acting as if it was just too big to fail.

"Tower, in almost 40 years, had always grown," Hanks says. "It had always made money. It had never lost money. . Well, I think there was a lot of stuff that Tower did not see coming."

You can hear that in a 1994 promotional video from Russ Solomon, in which Solomon says: "As for the whole concept of beaming something into one's home, that may come along someday, that's for sure. But it will come along over a long period of time, and we'll be able to deal with it and change our focus and change the way we do business. As far as your CD collection — and our CD inventory, for that matter — it's going to be around for a long, long time, believe me."

Solomon and Tower had their critics, none of whom are in Hanks' documentary. In the 1990s, for example, Tower — along with other megachains like HMV and Virgin — was often accused of putting independent mom and pop music retailers out of business. But for Hanks, making this film was a chance to revisit a time and experience that molded him.

"Tower was one of those places. It was special, it was unique," he says. "You forged a connection with it, whether you knew it or not. I didn't know it when I was a kid, and it wasn't until I started making this project that I realized just how informative it was for me when I was growing up. And it's like that for a lot of people."

Even though it's been nearly a decade since Tower closed its doors, its memory still burns bright for fans whose musical tastes were shaped below those yellow-and-red signs.


Watch the video: Everyday life in the house under the northern lights. Ep. 38 (January 2022).