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Friday, December 4, 2009

The Grand Canyon Skywalk

THE GRAND CANYON SKYWALK is a tourist attraction along the Colorado River on the edge of the Grand Canyon (Grand Canyon West) in the U.S. state of Arizona. It was funded by the Hualapai Indian tribe in partnership with Chinese-American businessman David Jin and was built by the French company Saint-Gobain.

The horseshoe-shaped glass walkway stands at a 3,600 feet (1,100 m) height above the floor of the canyon, a height exceeding those of the world's tallest skyscrapers. The Skywalk is not directly above the main canyon, Granite Gorge, which contains the Colorado River. Instead it extends over a side canyon and affords a view into the main canyon. USGS topographic maps show the elevation at the Skywalk's location as 4,770 ft (1,450 m) and the elevation of the Colorado River in the base of the canyon as 1,160 ft (350 m), and they show that the height of the exactly vertical drop directly under the skywalk is between 500 ft (150 m) and 800 ft (240 m).

Construction began in March 2004. It was rolled onto the edge of the canyon on March 7, 2007, after passing several days of testing to replicate weather, strength, and endurance conditions of its final destination. The structure was built to withstand up to 100 mph (160 km/h) winds and a magnitude 8 earthquake. Tuned mass dampers were used to minimize vibration from wind and pedestrians. Visitors are provided with shoe covers to protect them from slipping and to prevent the glass floor from being scratched.