The World's First Skyscraper City officials were so concerned that the building might collapse during construction that they paused work for a while to assure its safety. The Chicago "Tribune" newspaper called it a "monstrosity" and said it was only being built because there was no law against it. But others praised its design, saying it was innovative and beautiful.
The first skyscraper was built in 1885 by Henry Hobson Richardson at 2 North Wabash Avenue in Chicago. It was named the American Insurance Association Building after its main tenant. This eight-story brick structure with cast iron columns is considered one of the founding documents of modern architecture. Its designer was also responsible for several other famous buildings including the University of Chicago Library and Boston Public Library.
So why build a tall office tower in a city where most people lived in apartments? Because by gathering together many small offices, the giant that it was building would be less imposing. Also, by keeping the number of floors low, the building would not be such an expensive piece of property to rent out. Finally, by scattering these small offices through downtown Chicago, its owners hoped that people would feel comfortable walking through them!
This building is a good example of Richardsonian Romanesque style architecture.
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 unique is that they were built with interior roads and floors.
The word "skyscraper" comes from the Greek skys, which means sky, and graphein, which means to write. So the whole thing started with a desire to build houses that would let you see the sky.
In America, the word "skyscraper" was first used by Horace Greeley in an 1872 article in the New-York Tribune. He called them "giant fire escapes." At the time, most cities didn't have fire codes and building owners often included escape routes in their contracts with architects or builders.
Greeley probably didn't know what people would use these things for but he did know that they wanted anything but normal rooms up on top. People liked looking out windows so designers created roofs with lots of space below where workers could install air conditioners and other machinery. Up above, they could put offices or apartments where only angels could live.
In China, India, and Japan, high buildings have been standing for thousands of years.
Jenney, William LeBaron In 1884, local architect William LeBaron Jenney was the first to stretch the boundaries by creating the first skyscraper. He called his invention the "City and County Building." Before this time, buildings were made out of wood, which can be destroyed by fire. The new metal-frame building with concrete floors is much safer and allows more room for offices and stores under one roof.
The City and County Building had 38 floors, but it was not the world's first skyscraper. That title goes to Chicago's Home Insurance Company Building, which has 72 floors! It was also not the last, as there are now more than 60 buildings with over 100 floors. The tallest building in the world is currently the Shard in London, which is still under construction and when finished will be 1,016 feet tall.
It took until 1898 for the next major advancement in skyscrapers when Louis Sullivan introduced the idea of the "frozen moment" in architecture. What does this mean? It means that instead of designing buildings that change over time, like most people did before this point, architects started looking at existing buildings and studying how they worked so that they could apply these ideas to future projects. For example, if a door opens up into a room, then there should be no door closing itself after use.
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 designed by William Le Baron Jenney and built in 1887-1889 for the Home Insurance Company. The building has 38 floors and is still in use today.
After this breakthrough technology became available, it didn't take long before builders started using it to construct towering structures. This development led directly to the growth of cities across the United States because now people could work on high floors without being affected by street noise or air pollution.
In addition, new offices were created as a result of this technological advance. Before the electric elevator came along, there was no way to store much information inside a building. But once these machines were installed at the top floor, more space was made available for office workers.
Finally, let's not forget about the view! When people walk into an office building they want to see something impressive, like tall trees or a beautiful river. Buildings with views help attract customers and make employees feel proud of their workplace.
As you can see, the electric elevator is very important for the growth of cities in the United States.