Skyscrapers have become pretty commonplace in modern times, and National Skyscraper Day is our golden opportunity to appreciate these architectural marvels and feats of engineering. Skyscrapers grace our big cities with their bold presence and define our skylines with mighty buildings that literally seem to scrape the sky. But skyscrapers have only been around for about 130 years. The world’s first skyscraper was completed in 1885 in Chicago and it stood only 138 feet tall, a mere 10 stories that would not even count as a skyscraper today. But the name stuck, and initially any building that towered high over the surrounding structures was dubbed a skyscraper. Over time, our ability to engineer and construct skyscrapers improved drastically, and now a building must have at least 40 floors to be classified as a skyscraper at all. In crowded urban areas where land space is at a premium, skyscrapers allow us to build upwards rather than outwards, converting a single allotment of land area into 40 or more floors of potential living space. For National Skyscraper Day on September 3, we invite you to join us in taking a long look up.
National Skyscraper Day timeline
Burj Khalifa Opens
Burj Khalifa is currently the tallest building in the world at 2,722 feet, including the antennae
The First Skyscraper
Chicago's Home Insurance Building is built; at 138 feet, it is considered the world's first skyscraper
Elevators Rise in Popularity
According to one of the top NYC PR Firms, the Equitable Life Building in NYC was the first tall office building with an elevator.
National Skyscraper Day Activities
Visit the top of your local skyscraper
Chances are, you live within visiting distance of a skyscraper, and National Skyscraper Day is the perfect excuse to see your local skyscraper up close. Take a trip to your skyscraper and get a sense of the building from the inside. Ride the elevator (or dare to climb the stairs) to the top of the building and look out the window at the city around you. The top floors of many skyscrapers have restaurants, tours, or other ways to engage visitors, so poke around the offerings at your local skyscraper and have some fun!
Explore your local architecture or engineering
Most of us weren't cut out to be architects or engineers, but that doesn't mean you can't appreciate these two crucial professions and what they bring to many aspects of modern life. National Skyscraper Day is a great opportunity to learn about the styles of architecture in your area. Or if you prefer something a little less artsy, you can read up on the engineering challenges that were overcome to construct the skyscrapers near you. Every area is different, and regional construction challenges had an impact on how your local skyscrapers were built.
Build your own skyscraper
Most skyscrapers have a steel framework that works to support various curtain walls, but you can make a miniature version at home with building blocks, dry pasta and glue, or even toothpicks and tongue depressors. Decide on your materials ahead of time, and challenge your friends to a skyscraper contest! Give everyone the same amount of building time, and see who can make the tallest skyscraper of all. You could even hold a skyscraper party with a number of teams all competing for that top spot.
Why We Love National Skyscraper Day
Their lofty top-down perspective
No matter how you slice it, there's one thing all skyscrapers have in common — they're tall. A modern-day skyscraper boasts at least 40 floors from bottom to top, and it can offer you some really unparalleled views of the surrounding cityscape. The higher you go, the smaller the bustle on the ground looks, and the tallest skyscrapers around the world can make the people and even the cars seem like tiny little ants. Whether you're struggling with some mundane problems or seeking a more big-picture outlook on life, there's nothing quite like looking down from the top of a skyscraper.
They bring the prestige
Whenever a new skyscraper makes the list of the world's tallest buildings, it creates a considerable amount of prestige for the city, state, and country it calls home. Skyscrapers really define the skyline from which a city derives a lot of its identity and unique personality. Hosting a skyscraper is really a mark of your city's economic prowess, and cities with more skyscrapers tend to see more business activity than cities with lower rooftops. If you've ever opted for a hotel's penthouse suite or felt impressed by a top-floor corner office, you've experienced the allure of skyscraper prestige firsthand.
They combine science and art
Though the official origins of National Skyscraper Day are unknown, it remains clear that skyscrapers are a true testament to the awesomeness of humanity. They are gargantuan projects that rely on heavy-duty science and the artistry of design in equal measure. Skyscrapers require brilliant architects who can design beautiful buildings that will proudly feature in the city skyline for generations to come. But skyscrapers also rely on ingenious engineers to turn architectural designs into a real-world plan of action founded on modern scientific principles.