Tower Optical

tower optical

Tower Optical is a small, Connecticut-based company which has manufactured a binocular tower viewer used at major tourist sites in the United States and Canada since 1932. The company’s large, silver-colored devices are used at Niagara Falls, the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge and other locations. Only about 35 of the viewers are manufactured each year, but several thousand are maintained by the company. Tower Optical has various arrangements with owners of the sites where the devices are located. Where the viewers are free, they are leased; at other locations, revenue is shared between the company and the site owner.

Each machine can hold up to 2,000 quarters, and earns somewhere between $1,200 and $10,000 per year. The company was founded by Towers S. Hamilton in 1933 in his Norwalk machine shop. His son, Towers W. Hamilton, later became the owner. His wife, Gladys (Kip) Hamilton, worked with him in the business for many years and on his death in 1989, she took over the company. She died in 2006, and at some point she passed the business on to her daughter, Bonnie Rising, who still owned the company as of 2010, when she had six employees, including her son, Gregory, and her husband, Douglas.

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