The Yekaterinburg TV Tower in Yekaterinburg (sometimes called Ekaterinburg) in Russia was once the tallest abandoned structure in the world although it was overtaken at times by skyscrapers in Detroit and elsewhere during the financial crisis of the late 2000s. It remained in situ for a number of years overlooking the city of Yekaterinburg, unfinished. It was a stark reminder of the past for the city’s residents, harking back to the Soviet era when grandiose plans were put in place by the Communist regime. The tower was finally demolished on 24 March 2018.
The Yekaterinburg TV Tower was started in 1983 and was designed to stretch 360 metres (1,180 ft) into the air. The concrete design was based on similar towers in Baku, Vilnius and Tallinn with a restaurant and observation deck at the top. It was located in the centre of the city, close to the Iset River. Despite never being completed, it dominated the skyline of Yekaterinburg for many years.
In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed and construction on the tower was halted. By then, it was 26 storeys tall and reached a height of 220 m (720 ft). The lift was left incomplete so the only way to the top was by the stairs. After it was abandoned, it quickly became popular among extreme athletes who ran up the stairs the the top. It began to attract base jumpers and extreme climbers, earning the name The Fun Tower. One of the most famous of these was Alexander Palynov, a medical student from the city. He regularly climbed the tower and it was said he even did so blindfolded and with weights tied to his legs. In October 1998, after climbing to the top, he lost his footing and fell to his death. He was discovered the following morning at the base of the tower.
Following the incident involving Alexander Palynov, things took a sinister turn as the Yekaterinburg TV Tower began to attract people wanting to jump to their death. It soon became known as The Suicide Tower. Authorities became concerned with the copycat trend that soon developed but it was another tragic accident which forced them to act. On 9 May 2000, three teenage girls climbed to the top of the tower to watch the Victory Day fireworks. One of them slipped, dragging the other two with her. Although they did not fall all the way to the bottom, they suffered severe injuries. The first girl died, becoming the final victim of the Tower of Death. The entrance was sealed by authorities in the days following the tragic accident. Despite being closed off, some extreme climbers did manage to gain access to the tower and as a result, security guards were deployed in 2017.
The tower continued to stand abandoned in the middle of the city for a number of years. Local officials long called for its destruction, arguing that Yekaterinburg needed a change in image having gained a bad reputation for the Tower of Death and as the city in which Tsar Nicholas II and the Romanov family were executed in 1917.
On 24 March 2018, the Yekaterinburg TV Tower was finally demolished as part of the city’s preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Despite the tower’s grim past, there were some residents who wanted it to remain in memory of those whose lives it had taken. Following the demolition, the nearby Iset Tower, a 52-story skyscraper which is 212.8 metres (698 ft) tall, became the tallest structure in Yekaterinburg.