They were made possible by the Bessemer technique of mass producing steel beams. The 10-story Home Insurance Building in Chicago was the first modern skyscraper, built in 1885. The Wainwright Building in St. Louis was built in 1891, and the Flatiron Building in New York City was built in 1902.
These early buildings used load-bearing walls and floors that acted as the structural support for the building. There were no central supporting columns like today's buildings use because they were considered unnecessary with these earlier designs. The weight of the ceilings, doors, and windows was enough to keep the buildings up.
The first skyscrapers were built in Chicago during the 1880s. These new buildings stretched up into the sky, making them the highest structures available at the time. They were designed without any load-bearing walls inside the rooms, which allowed the architects more freedom in their design. The tenants of these buildings provided their own wall space for hanging paintings and other art. This is why these early buildings have small, dark rooms.
As time went on, the need for stronger and stronger materials brought us to the production of steel frames and glass walls. Today's skyscrapers are much more than just piles of boards and bricks with a roof on top; there are many different components that work together to make a strong, stable structure.
The Ascension of Skyscrapers While the capability to erect large buildings existed, it wasn't until the introduction of the electric elevator in 1889 that skyscrapers began to dominate the urban landscape. The Home Insurance Building in Chicago, considered the first modern skyscraper, is depicted here. It was an instant success when it opened its doors in 1891.
In fact, the electric elevator became so popular that it soon spread to other cities around the world where building owners realized they could make more money by charging people to ride up in them. The first such machine was installed in the Strand Arcade in London but it didn't become a national sensation until the opening of the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. There, it allowed visitors to see how many floors were inside of huge buildings!
At this time, architects and engineers were developing new ways to make buildings stronger and more durable while at the same time reducing the cost of construction. By the early 20th century, skyscrapers were becoming a standard feature of most major cities around the world.
When the Home Insurance Building (often referred to be the first skyscraper due to its steel structure) debuted in Chicago in 1885, it featured four elevators serving its ten storeys. Elevator shafts are becoming an essential component of architectural design. The use of elevators allows for greater building density, reduces energy costs, and improves comfort for office workers.
Before the advent of the elevator, most high-rise buildings were made with iron or steel frames covered in plaster or brick. These structures were often very expensive to build and difficult to heat during the winter months. As well, many people believed they were unhealthy living at such a high elevation for so long.
The early elevators were made with wood and drew power from a cable that ran down to the floor level. They could carry up to three people at a time and were usually located on the ground floor or near the basement entrance. You can still see some of these wooden elevators in use today in old buildings around the world including New York City, London, and Paris.
The first electric elevator was invented by Otis in 1872. It used rubber belts instead of cables to transmit power, but they were also called rubber belts. They could carry up to five people at a time and were usually located on the upper floors of a building. The first hydraulic elevator was also invented by Otis in 1872.