Learn more about Skyscraper
A skyscraper is a very tall, continuously habitable building. Although there is no official definition, a minimum height of approximately 150 meters or 492.12 feet is often used as a criterion for a building to qualify as a skyscraper. Other criteria like shape and appearance may also affect whether or not a building is considered a skyscraper. The city of Chicago is credited as being the birth place of the skyscraper.
The word skyscraper was first applied to such buildings in the late 19th century, reflecting public amazement at the tall buildings being built in Chicago and New York City. The structural definition of the word skyscraper was refined later by architectural historians, based on engineering developments of the 1880s that had enabled construction of tall multi-story buildings. This definition was based on the steel skeleton—as opposed to constructions of load-bearing masonry, which passed their practical limit in 1891 with Chicago's Monadnock Building. Philadelphia's City Hall, completed in 1901, still holds claim as the world's tallest load-bearing masonry structure. The steel frame developed in stages of increasing self-sufficiency, with several buildings in Chicago and New York advancing the technology that allowed the steel frame to carry a building on its own. Today, however, many of the tallest skyscrapers are built more or less entirely with reinforced concrete. In the United States today, it is a loose convention to draw the lower limit on what is a skyscraper at 150 metres. Elsewhere, though, a shorter building will sometimes be referred to as a skyscraper, especially if it is said to "dominate" its surroundings. Thus, calling a building a skyscraper will usually, but not always, imply pride and achievement.
The somewhat arbitrary term skyscraper should not be confused with the slightly less arbitrary term highrise, defined by the Emporis Data Committee as "a building which is 35 metres (115 feet) or greater in height, and is divided at regular intervals into occupiable floors" . All skyscrapers are highrises, but only the tallest highrises are skyscrapers. Habitability separates skyscrapers from towers and masts. Some structural engineers define a highrise as any vertical construction for which wind is a more significant load factor than weight is. Note that this criterion fits not only highrises but some other tall structures, such as towers.
The crucial developments for modern skyscrapers were steel, glass, reinforced concrete, water pumps, and elevators. Until the 19th century, buildings of over six stories were rare. So many flights of stairs were impractical for inhabitants, and water pressure was usually insufficient to supply running water above about 15 metres (50 feet). However, despite this lack of sanitation, high rise housing dates back to the 1600s in some places. The Romans built apartment buildings sometimes 7 to 8 stories high, these building were unstable and dirty and often caught fire due to careless inhabitants. In Edinburgh, Scotland for instance, the defensive city wall defined the boundaries of the city. With limited land area for development the houses increased in height. Buildings of 11 stories were common, and there are records of buildings as high as 14 stories. Many of the stone-built structures can still be seen today in the old town of Edinburgh particularly in the 'Wynds' and 'Closes' just off the Royal Mile.
The oldest iron framed building in the world is The Flaxmill (also locally known as the "Maltings") in Shrewsbury, England. Built in 1797, it is seen as the "grandfather of skyscrapers” due to its fireproof combination of cast iron columns and cast iron beams developed into the modern steel frame which made modern skyscrapers possible. It unfortunately lies derelict and needs much investment to keep it standing. On 31 March 2005, it was announced that English Heritage would buy the Flaxmill, so that it could be redeveloped.
The first skyscraper was the ten-story Home Insurance Building in Chicago, built in 1884–1885. While its height is not considered unusual or very impressive today, the architect, Major William Le Baron Jenney, created the first load-carrying structural frame. In this building, a steel frame supported the entire weight of the walls instead of the walls themselves carrying the weight of the building which was the usual method. This development led to the "Chicago skeleton" form of construction. After Jenney's accomplishment the sky was truly the limit so far as building was concerned.
Sullivan's Wainwright Building building in Saint Louis, 1890, was the first steel frame building with soaring vertical bands to emphasize the height of the building, and is, therefore, considered by some to be the first true skyscraper.
Surprisingly for some, the United Kingdom also had its share of early skyscrapers. The first building to fit the engineering definition meanwhile was the then largest hotel in the world, the Grand Midland Hotel, now known as St Pancras Chambers in London, completed in 1873 with a clock tower 82 metres (269 feet) in height. The 12-floor Shell Mex House in London, at 58 metres (190 feet), was completed a year after the Home Insurance Building and managed to beat it in both height and floor count. 1877 saw the opening of the Gothic revival style Manchester Town Hall by Alfred Waterhouse. Its 87-metre-high clock and bell tower dominated that city's skyline for almost a century.
Most early skyscrapers emerged in the land-strapped areas of Chicago, London, and New York toward the end of the 19th century. London builders soon found their height limited due to a complaint from Queen Victoria, rules that continued to exist with few exceptions until the 1950s; concerns about aesthetics and fire safety had likewise hampered the development of skyscrapers across continental Europe for the first half of the twentieth century. After an early competition between New York City and Chicago for the world's tallest building, New York took a firm lead by 1895 with the completion of the American Surety Building. Developers in Chicago also found themselves hampered by laws limiting height to about 40 storeys, leaving New York to hold the title of tallest building for many years. New York City developers then competed among themselves, with successively taller buildings claiming the title of "world's tallest" in the 1920s and early 1930s, culminating with the completion of the Chrysler Building in 1930 and the Empire State Building in 1931, the world's tallest building for forty years. From the 1930s onwards, skyscrapers also began to appear in Latin America (São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Mexico City) and in Asia (Shanghai, Hong Kong).
Immediately after World War II, the Soviet Union planned eight massive skyscrapers dubbed "Stalin Towers" for Moscow; seven of these were eventually built. The rest of Europe also slowly began to permit skyscrapers, starting with Madrid in Spain during the 1950s. Finally, skyscrapers also began to appear in Africa, the Middle East and Oceania (mainly Australia) from the late 1950s and the early 1960s.
Still today, despite the loss of the World Trade Center towers, and the relatively slow pace of new construction, no city in the world has more completed individual free-standing buildings over 492 ft. (150 m) than New York City, with 194. Hong Kong comes in with the most in the world (214), if one counts individually the multiple towers that rise from a common podium (like Emporis does), as in buildings that rise several stories as one structure, before splitting into two or more columns of floors. If Hong Kong's multiple-skyscraper complexes are treated as a single skyscraper, Hong Kong would certainly have less skyscrapers over 492 ft. However, this number is likely to continue to increase rapidly, as it has for the last fifteen years, as many more are under construction, due to a prolonged highrise building boom in Hong Kong. Chicago's skyline was not allowed to grow until the height limits were relaxed in 1960; over the next fifteen years, many towers were built, including the massive 442-meter (1,451-foot) Sears Tower, leading to its current number of 90 buildings over 492 ft. Chicago is currently undergoing an epic construction boom that will greatly add to the city's already magnificent skyline. Since 2000, at least 40 buildings at a minimum of 50 stories high have been built. 400 North Lake Shore Drive, Trump International Hotel and Tower (Chicago), Waterview Tower, Mandarin Oriental Tower, 29-39 South LaSalle, Park Michigan, and Acqua are some of the more intriguing projects currently underway in the city that invented the skyscraper. This construction boom will surely boost the number of skyscrapers in Chicago, and Chicago will likely be the third city in the world to have more than 100- 492 ft. skyscrapers. Chicago, Hong Kong, and New York City, other wise known as the "the big three," are recognized in most architectual circles as having the most compelling skylines in the world.
Today, skyscrapers are an increasingly common sight where land is scarce, as in the centres of big cities, because of the high ratio of rentable floor space per area of land. Skyscrapers, like temples and palaces in the past, are considered the ultimate symbols of a city's economic power which is exemplified by the rise of the Asian economy and skyline.
 History of tallest skyscrapers
For current rankings of skyscrapers by height, see List of skyscrapers.
|1873||Equitable Life Building||New York||U.S.||142 ft||43 m||6||Demolished|
|1876||St Pancras Chambers (clock tower)*||London||U.K.||269 ft||82 m||9||Standing|
|1877||Manchester Town Hall (clock tower)*||Manchester||U.K.||286 ft||87 m||6||Standing|
|1889||Auditorium Building||Chicago||U.S.||269 ft||82 m||17||349 ft||106 m||Standing|
|1890||New York World Building||New York City||U.S.||309 ft||94 m||20||349 ft||106 m||Demolished|
|1894||Manhattan Life Insurance Building||New York City||U.S.||348 ft||106 m||18||Demolished|
|1895||Milwaukee City Hall (clock tower)*||Milwaukee||U.S.||350 ft||107 m||9||Standing|
|1899||Park Row Building||New York City||U.S.||391 ft||119 m||30||Standing|
|1908||Singer Building||New York City||U.S.||612 ft||187 m||47||Demolished|
|1909||Met Life Tower||New York City||U.S.||700 ft||213 m||50||Standing|
|1913||Woolworth Building||New York City||U.S.||792 ft||241 m||57||Standing|
|1930||40 Wall Street||New York City||U.S.||70||927 ft||283 m||Standing|
|1930||Chrysler Building||New York City||U.S.||925 ft||282 m||77||1,046 ft||319 m||Standing|
|1931||Empire State Building||New York City||U.S.||1,250 ft||381 m||102||1,472 ft||449 m||Standing|
|1972||World Trade Center (North tower)||New York City||U.S.||1,368 ft||417 m||110||1,732 ft||528 m||Destroyed|
|1974||Sears Tower||Chicago||U.S.||1,451 ft||442 m||108||1,729 ft||527 m||Standing|
|1998||Petronas Towers||Kuala Lumpur||Malaysia||88||1,483 ft||452 m||Standing|
|2004||Taipei 101||Taipei City||Republic of China(Taiwan)||1,474 ft||448 m||101||1,671 ft||509 m||Standing|
- *Not fully habitable from top to bottom
At the moment construction of the Burj Dubai is taking place in Dubai. Its exact future height is kept secret, but it is expected to become at least 800 m high, making it the tallest building in the world. The Burj Dubai is to be completed in 2008.
- Skyscrapers: Form and Function, by David Bennett, Simon & Schuster, 1995.
- "What is the chief characteristics of the tall office building? It is lofty. It must be tall. The force and power of altitude must be in it, the glory and pride of exaltation must be in it. It must be every inch a proud and soaring thing, rising in sheer exaltation that from bottom to top it is a unit without a single dissenting line."
- "A skyscraper is a boast in glass and steel."
- "The skyscraper establishes the block, the block creates the street, the street offers itself to man."
- "Architecture is the alphabet of giants; it is the largest set of symbols ever made to meet the eyes of men. A tower stands up like a sort of simplified statue, of much more than heroic size."
 See also
- List of buildings
- List of largest buildings in the world
- List of tallest buildings in the world
- List of tallest buildings and structures in the world
- List of tallest buildings and structures in the world by country
- List of tallest structures in the world
- List of tallest structures in the world by type of use
- List of masts - List of towers - List of tallest churches in the world
 External links
Main skyscraper portals
- Skyscraper Museum
- SkyscraperPage - Technical information and diagrams
- SkyscraperCity - Largest forum for urbanity. City portals with some technical information
- Emporis Buildings
- All About Skyscrapers
- SkyScrapers.org - Contains High Resolution skyscraper illustrations
- Construction photos of Burj Dubai (Worlds tallest by 2008)
- City, Urban and Skyscraper Forum
- (Spanish) Urbanity.es
- Skyscrapers at the Open Directory Project
- SkyscraperNews (UK only)
- Reflections of a City
- Skyscraper 1880s "skyscraper" citations from word researcher Barry Popik.
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