T H E H I S T O R Y O F
of modern day have grown
to be massive structures that dare to
tower higher and higher over us to
become the tallest buildings in the world.
But why is it exactly that we seem to have
an obsession with building higher and
higher towards the clouds?
It turns out that skyscrapers are an
ancient concept that have been a focus of
history since the earliest recordings
known to man.
Some of the world’s
first “skyscrapers” actually look
quite different from the steel and
glass structures we see on our city
The buildings of cultures past took
the form of historic constructs such
as the Great Pyramid of Giza or the
Lincoln Cathedral, both built
thousands of years ago.
Large monuments, towers, and
pyramid-like structures appear on nearly
every continent, and were designed to be
important places. In ancient times, villagers
and kingdom-leaders alike were eager to be
closer to the heavens and the gods.
So much so that the need to be closer
to the heavens became the main
inspiration for building taller.
It wasn’t until the technological
advancements beginning as early as the 19th
century that true skyscrapers as we know
them could even be built. Cities such as
Shibam in Yemen contain some of the first
communities with several tall buildings
featured – some of these communities date
back as far as the 16h century!
Chicago and New York
are two cities within the U.S. that are
credited with leading the way for modern
skyscrapers for businesses and
One of the first
skyscrapers in Chicago, known
as the Chicago’s Home Insurance
building, was only 12 stories high.
The great Chicago fire of 1871 cleared so
many buildings in the area that architects
were pressured to replace the buildings
lost with new and safer designs.
Many consider this to be the turning
point for Chicago’s booming
In the late 19th century,
the battle began to create the world’s
tallest buildings. In a frenzy of new interest,
laws were passed that limited the height of
buildings in certain cities in order to keep
architects from designing buildings
that were unsafe.
As New York continued
to grow their building designs,
people became concerned with the amount
of daylight that could be seen on the streets
through the tall buildings. Zoning laws were
written and rewritten and soon, fundamental
building rules were established to give the
public more comfort. This required
buildings to taper in a bit smaller
as the building got taller, so that
light could escape.
Moving forward towards
the 20th and 21st centuries, landscapers and
architects really had no choice but to build
upwards. Big cities only had so much room
to build lengthwise and still be in the most relevant
parts of town, and the growing desire to be
home to the world’s tallest buildings
continued to soar.
As technology grew,
and with steel becoming more widely
available for large projects, buildings became
taller and safety regulations became more
Multiple structural systems began to be the
norm in design concepts and allowed for easier
constructs, stronger materials, and
better building support.
In today’s culture, architects
continue to push the envelope in terms of
design and construction.
The next time you look up at a city skyline,
just remember how much work it took to get
where we are today – human ambition and
technological advancements have truly
propelled us into a new age of building
and it will be very exciting to see
where we dare to go next!
T H A N K S F O R R E A D I N G !