The Home Insurance Building in Chicago was the world's first skyscraper, built between 1884 and 1885. The so-called "Father of the Skyscraper" stood just 10 floors tall, with a peak height of 138 feet, which is little by today's standards but enormous at the time. The building was also said to be the first structure in America to be lit by electricity.
New York City became the center of the skyscraper industry when it hosted the World's Fair in 1939. The idea of putting up buildings that reach for the sky to make room for more offices, apartments, or stores has since then only become bigger and bigger. Today, New York is the country's number one metropolis when it comes to skyscrapers, with over 5,000 feet high!
Chicago is second place, with about 4500 feet high. There are now over 100 skyscrapers in Chicago, making it the most popular city for this kind of architecture.
Other big cities with lots of skyscrapers: New York, London, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Montreal, Vancouver.
There are different types of skyscrapers, like office towers, apartment blocks, hotels, etc. The Empire State Building in New York is the tallest office tower in the world at 1,454 feet high. It's not a single building, but rather a collection of apartments stacked on top of each other.
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 the need for interior corridors, and makes higher buildings more accessible to people with disabilities.
The elevator has been a major factor influencing the shape of cities throughout history. Before the advent of the elevator, tall buildings were limited to small towns or on islands where the weight of a large building would cause it to collapse. As technology improved, so did the elevator, which allowed builders to overcome these limitations and create much taller structures. Today, elevators play an important role in our daily lives as they allow us to quickly and easily move about high-rise buildings, including the World Trade Center in New York City.
The elevator has also had an impact on city planning. Before the development of the elevator, there were only two ways to go from one floor to another-by stairs or by crawling along on your stomach. This limitation caused architects to think outside the box and come up with new ways to provide access to upper floors without using steps. The earliest example of this is the lift that Thomas Edison invented to help his assistant carry heavy trays up and down staircases at their lab in Menlo Park, California.
Major William LeBaron Jenney, the architect, added a steel frame that sustained not just the walls but also the massive weight of the whole structure. The father of the skyscraper died in 1940, aged 85.
The building is now part of New York University's School of Medicine and does not normally open to the public. However, it can be seen inside the Historic Hudson Valley website. This site contains photographs and information about many buildings and sites related to the history of medicine in America.
Also on this page you can read about other important people in medical history.
The name "skyscraper" was coined in the 1880s, shortly after the first tall buildings were built in the United States, however towering buildings had been there for hundreds of years. Engineers have been fighting for the sky since the Middle Ages. There were towers before there were skyscrapers. What made skyscrapers special was that they contained apartments on several floors connected by stairways.
The word "skyscraper" comes from the Greek skys, meaning sky, and pyramidion, meaning little peak or pointed thing. The original skyscrapers were mostly made of wood, so they would look like tiny pyramids floating in the sky.
They were used as observatories because people believed they served to channel God's grace towards the people below. Also, they were useful for sending messages fast over a large distance. For example, a building might be used as a signal tower if it was too expensive to send people up in balloons.
Nowadays, we use words like "tower" and "building" to describe high structures, but that wasn't always the case. Before the 1920s, when concrete became popular, engineers often used stone or brick for their foundations, which meant they needed sturdy names for these objects. Skyscrapers are the only type of building that still uses this terminology today.
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The Chrysler Building was the first structure in the world to surpass the 300 m (984 ft) mark, while the Empire State Building was the first structure to reach more than 100 stories. It has 102 storeys and a height of 381 meters (1,250 feet). The World Trade Center, which was completed in 1971, was the second highest building. It had 109 floors and was 410 meters (1,378 feet) tall.
The Sears Tower in Chicago is currently the tallest building in the US. It is also the third-highest building in the world after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and the Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1. The Lotte World Tower in Seoul will become the tallest building in South Korea when it is completed in 2016. It will be 828 meters (2,722 feet) high with 72 floors.
Chrysler Building, New York City
Construction on the Chrysler Building began on June 14, 1930 and it was opened for business on May 15, 1931. The building was designed by William Van Alen and its construction cost $12 million ($150 million in today's dollars). At the time it was built, it was the most expensive building in the world. The Chrysler Building is currently the tallest building in New York City and stands 753 feet tall with 22 floors. It is located at 40 Wall Street in the Financial District.