We are celebrating architectural phenomena all through Skyscraper Month, observed every year in June. This holiday is important not only to the United States but the world at large, as it places the spotlight on an architectural breakthrough that was once considered impossible — skyscrapers. This month is all about celebrating the magnificent building efforts that led to the construction of the historical property giants like the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, the World Trade Center, and more recent establishments like the Burj Khalifa. Join us as we uncover the incredible history of ancient and modern skyscrapers, and learn why they are such a big deal.
History of Skyscraper Month
To say the evolution of skyscrapers is inspiring will be an underwhelming statement. Today, and throughout this month, we are appreciating the structures that were, at one point in history, considered an unachievable height. Skyscrapers are worth all the hype and more, but before we get into how they came to be, what classifies a building into the elite skyscraper category?
Skyscrapers were buildings with 10 to 20 stories in the late 1800s. Though the term has no universally agreed-upon definition, modern skyscrapers are primarily steel-framed structures that are 100 to 150 meters high. This proves how far we’ve come. However, this is just the beginning, as there are skyscrapers that are super- and mega-tall that reach 600 meters. Of course, these structures must be livable, which is another crucial aspect. This is the major distinction between skyscrapers and modern high-rise buildings like the Washington Monument and older historic examples like the Great Pyramid of Giza.
The introduction of safety elevators by Elisha Otis in the 1850s, and the use of steel frames in construction, established the foundation for modern skyscrapers. The first modern skyscraper came to be a few decades later with the construction of the Home Insurance Building in Chicago, which was ten stories tall. However, some historians consider the Equitable Life Building in New York to be the first, although it was only seven stories tall.
Ever since it is safe to say architects and engineers have been participating in a private competition as the title of the world’s tallest building has fallen to different hands. That title currently belongs to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai but has been previously occupied by the likes of the Chrysler Building, the World Trade Center, and the Willis Tower.
Skyscraper Month timeline
Passenger elevators are installed for the first time in the E.V. Haughwout Building in Manhattan.
The Home Insurance Building in Chicago becomes the first modern example of a skyscraper as it is the first tall building to feature a steel skeleton.
Structural engineer, Fazlur Rahman Khan, introduces a tubular design for high-rise buildings, which leads to more dynamic forms of construction.
The Burj Khalifa is constructed in Dubai and holds the title of the world’s tallest building.
Skyscraper Month FAQs
What’s the tallest building after the Burj Khalifa?
Taipei 101 in Taiwan continues to be the second-tallest structure behind Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. This was built in 2004, six years before its formidable rival, and was formerly known as Taipei World Financial Center. A stunning 320 meters lower than the Burj Khalifa, Taipei 101 is located at 508 meters. However, it continues to be the largest green building in the world because it was built with resource efficiency and environmental responsibility in mind. It is also the first structure in the world to reach a height of over half a kilometer.
What city has the most skyscrapers?
As the city with the most buildings, Hong Kong earns the top spot. There are currently 518 skyscrapers in the city, and more are being built.
How old is the oldest skyscraper?
The Temple Court Building was originally built between 1881 and 1883, making it the oldest skyscraper in the world that is still standing today. This old skyscraper is currently part of a larger building complex called five Beekman Street or Beekman Hotel and Residences.
Skyscraper Month Activities
Visit a skyscraper
Most nations can now boast of having tens or even hundreds of skyscrapers thanks to technical and architectural breakthroughs. Make it a goal this month to visit as many skyscrapers as you can, if you don't already reside or work in one. By challenging yourself and your loved ones to take the elevator all the way to the top of each one you enter, you may make it more enjoyable.
Do more research
Although we have provided a generous insight into the history of skyscrapers, there is still so much more to discover. Use this month to learn all about the construction giants that have risen and fallen over the decades. You never know what you might find about some of the well-known skyscrapers of our time.
Take a picture
How can you document the memories you get from all the skyscrapers you visit this month? By taking pictures of course! See just how many pictures of skyscrapers you can collect this month, and turn them into a fun, shareable catalog at the end of the month. Also, if you take us up on our earlier challenge, be sure to send us a picture when you make it to the top!
5 Interesting Facts About Skyscrapers
The term wasn't always used for buildings
Before its architectural definition, skyscrapers were anything that protruded into the air, including triangular ship sails, tall horses, and even extremely tall people.
The Chrysler Building had a secret weapon
The Chrysler Building was going to be overtaken by the 40 Wall St building as the tallest building until its architect discovered the intended height for its counterpart and included a secret spire.
A lightning magnet
The Empire State Building was designed as a lightning rod and is struck by lightning approximately 100 times a year.
You can get seriously burnt by them
Some skyscrapers, especially those covered with windows, can emit and reflect extreme rays of light that can burn you if you get too close.
Sears Tower has a wonderful view
On the right day, you can see up to four states from the top of the Sears Tower — Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
Why We Love Skyscraper Month
It’s all about appreciation
The already spectacular skyscrapers are given even more attention on this holiday. Instead of simply passing by the world's structural giants as we regularly do, it provides us with a rare opportunity to stop, observe, breathe, and be in awe of them. This also enables us to appreciate the time, labor, employees, architects, and engineers who contributed to the creation of the buildings as well as the buildings themselves.
It shows us that anything is possible
Skyscrapers are truly a sight for hopeful eyes. Not only do they take our breath away, but they also stir up an inner feeling that allows us to believe if we can achieve such heights, anything is possible.
It crosses borders
Skyscraper Month is not simply observed in the United States, which is a wonderful addition to its many qualities. There are skyscrapers in practically every country on the globe, however, some have more than others. This indicates that this event can be celebrated and appreciated in any place in the world that has a skyscraper, regardless of national boundaries.
Skyscraper Month dates