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The History Of Skyscraper Design – Daniel Lambraia – Medium


It doesn’t matter if you live in a big city or come from somewhere no one has ever heard of; skyscrapers are truly a sight to behold. The skyscrapers 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 streets today. 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 residential buildings. Although there were impressive structures around the world, like the great pyramids, skyscrapers didn’t start out being all that massive. One of the first skyscrapers in Chicago, known as the Chicago’s Home Insurance building, was only 12 stories high. Interestingly enough, the great Chicago fire of 1871 cleared so many buildings in the area that architects were faced with pressure to replace the buildings lost with new and safer designs. Many consider this to be the turning point for Chicago’s booming skyscraper beginnings.

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…

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