CHICAGO—FIRST IN SKYSCRAPERS. The review—perhaps understandably because, after all, the book is about New York skyscrapers—asks “Why is Manhattan synonymous with skyscrapers?”. It then describes New York’s first skyscraper, the “11-storey” Tower Building on “a technological breakthrough”. The breakthrough was the use of an iron frame for the building, with “curtain” walls “to keep the rain out”. The Tower Building opened in 1888.

However, this wikipedia entry on early skyscrapers awards the title of the first skyscraper to the Home Insurance Building in Chicago, which opened in 1884. The entry says that the Home Insurance building “was unusual in that it incorporated steel into the building’s internal metal frame alongside the traditional wrought iron. This frame took the weight of the floors of the building and helped to support the weight of the external walls as well, proving an important step towards creating the genuine non-structural curtain walls that became a feature of later skyscrapers.”

By 1893, Chicago had 12 skyscrapers between 16 and 20 stories tall; in 1893 New York had only four buildings over 16 stories tall.

This entry was posted in Architecture, Economics, History. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.