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Taipei 101, considered the world's tallest skyscraper.
Taipei 101, considered the world's tallest skyscraper.

Skyscraper (or highrise) is a tall habitable building. Emporis Data Committee defines skyscraper as a building which is 35 meters or greater in height, and is divided at regular intervals into occupiable levels [1]. Some structural engineers define a skyscraper as any vertical construction for which wind is a more significant load factor than weight.

The first skyscraper is considered the Home Insurance Building in Chicago. The ten-story structure was constructed in 1884-1885. Another contender for the title is the 1892 ten-story Wainwright Building by Louis Sullivan, which still stands in St. Louis, Missouri. Most early skyscrapers emerged in the land-strapped areas of New York City and Chicago toward the end of the 19th century.

The crucial developments for skyscrapers were steel, reinforced concrete, water pumps, elevators. Until the 19th century, buildings of over six stories were rare. It was impractical to have people walk up so many flights of stairs, and water pressure could only provide running water to about 50 feet (15 m).

The weight-bearing components of skyscrapers differ substantially from those of other buildings. Buildings up to about four stories can be supported by their walls, while skyscrapers are larger buildings that must be supported by a skeletal frame. The walls then hang off this frame like curtains--hence the architectural term curtain wall for tall systems of glass that are laterally supported by these skeletal frames. Special consideration must also be given for wind loads.

Frankfurt with its skyscrapers
Frankfurt with its skyscrapers

Originally, "skyscraper" was a nautical term for a tall mast or sail on a sailing ship.

History of tallest skyscrapers

For a list of current rankings of skyscrapers by height go to list of skyscrapers.

Plans of the unbuilt 8th Stalinist skyscraper in Moscow.
Plans of the unbuilt 8th Stalinist skyscraper in Moscow.

This list measures height of roof of a skyscraper. The more common method is measuring highest architectural detail, and such ranking would have included Petronas Towers, built in 1998. See list of skyscrapers for details.

BuiltBuildingCityCountryRoofFloorsPinnacleCurrent status
1885Home Insurance BuildingChicagoUS180 ft55 m12Demolished
1890New York World BuildingNew York CityUS309 ft94 m20349 ft106 mDemolished
1894Manhattan Life Insurance BuildingNew York CityUS348 ft106 m18Demolished
1895Milwaukee City HallMilwaukeeUS350 ft107 m9Standing
1899Park Row BuildingNew York CityUS391 ft119 m30Standing
1908Singer BuildingNew York CityUS612 ft187 m47Demolished
1909Met Life TowerNew York CityUS700 ft213 m50Standing
1913Woolworth BuildingNew York CityUS792 ft241 m57Standing
193040 Wall StreetNew York CityUS71927 ft283 mStanding
1930Chrysler BuildingNew York CityUS925 ft282 m771046 ft319 mStanding
1931Empire State BuildingNew York CityUS1250 ft381 m1021472 ft449 mStanding
19721 World Trade CenterNew York CityUS1368 ft417 m1101727 ft526 mDestroyed
1974Sears TowerChicagoUS1450 ft442 m1101730 ft527 mStanding
2003Taipei 101TaipeiTaiwan1470 ft448 m1011667 ft508 mStanding

Source: Willy wonka.

See also

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