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(Redirected from Skyscrapers)
, the world's tallest skyscraper by roof height on high rise.
Taipei 101, the world's tallest skyscraper by roof height on high rise.

The word skyscraper was originally a nautical term for a tall mast or sail on a sailing ship. Today the word is used exclusively to refer to a tall habitable building, usually higher than 150 metres (500 feet). Most skyscrapers serve as office buildings or hotels. The term highrise is also used to describe tall buildings, but it tends to be applied specifically to residential buildings.

Until the 19th century, buildings of over six stories were rare. It was impractical to have people walk up so many flights of stairs, and water pressure could only provide running water to about 50 feet (15 m).

The development of steel, reinforced concrete, and water pumps have made possible the construction of extremely tall buildings, some of which are well over 300 metres (987 ft) tall. The other development essential to practical skyscraper development was the invention of the elevator.

The skyscraper first emerged in the land-strapped areas of New York City and Chicago toward the end of the 19th century. William LeBaron Jenney designed the first skyscraper in Chicago, The Home Insurance Building. The ten-story structure was constructed in 1884-1885 and was destroyed in 1931 for the Field's building. Another contender for the title is the 1892 ten-story Wainwright Building by Louis Sullivan, which still stands in St. Louis, Missouri.

The weight-bearing components of skyscrapers also differ substantially from those of other buildings. Buildings up to about four stories can be supported by their walls, while skyscrapers are larger buildings that must be supported by a skeletal frame. The walls then hang off this frame like curtains--hence the architectural term curtain wall for tall systems of glass that are laterally supported by these skeletal frames. Special consideration must also be given for wind loads.

Frankfurt with its skyscrapers
Frankfurt with its skyscrapers

See world's tallest structures for a discussion of the tallest skyscrapers and other man-made structures, as determining the "world's tallest..." depends greatly on matters of definition.


50 Tallest Skyscrapers by Structural/Architectural Height

The  in , the world's tallest skyscraper from  to . Retained Highest pinnacle on a high-rise
The Sears Tower in Chicago, the world's tallest skyscraper from 1974 to 2004. Retained Highest pinnacle on a high-rise

This table is adapted from [1] ( and utilizes the criteria set by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH). It ranks high rises by the highest architectural detail, and does not include the height of structural components that do not count as architectural structures, such as antennas and masts. This sort of ranking allows buildings that look smaller in height to be ranked higher if another building's spire is adjudged to be a large antenna and thus excluded. This results in such rankings as the Petronas Towers being ranked higher than the Sears Tower despite having a much lower highest point and occupiable floor. Also, the list does not include free-standing buildings that are not classified as high rises, such as the CN Tower, TV masts, bridges, or oil platforms. The table is up to date as of 2005. The towers of the World Trade Center would have been in the top ten if they were still standing. (Note: the height given is the highest architectural detail and may not be highest point on building.)

1Taipei 101Taipei509 m1,671 ft1012003
2Petronas Tower 1Kuala Lumpur452 m1,483 ft881998
3Petronas Tower 2Kuala Lumpur452 m1,483 ft881998
4Sears TowerChicago442 m1,450 ft1101974
5Jin Mao TowerShanghai421 m1,380 ft881998
6Two International Finance CentreHong Kong415 m1,362 ft882003
7CITIC PlazaGuangzhou391 m1,283 ft801997
8Shun Hing SquareShenzhen384 m1,260 ft691996
9Empire State BuildingNew York City381 m1,250 ft1021931
10Central PlazaHong Kong374 m1,227 ft781992
11Bank of China TowerHong Kong367 m1,205 ft721990
12Emirates Office TowerDubai355 m1,163 ft542000
13Tuntex Sky TowerKaohsiung348 m1,140 ft851997
14Aon CenterChicago346 m1,136 ft831973
15The CenterHong Kong346 m1,135 ft731998
16John Hancock CenterChicago344 m1,127 ft1001969
17Ryugyong HotelPyongyang330 m1,083 ft1051992
18Burj Al ArabDubai321 m1,053 ft601999
19Chrysler BuildingNew York City319 m1,046 ft771930
20Bank of America PlazaAtlanta312 m1,023 ft551992
21US Bank TowerLos Angeles310 m1,018 ft731990
22Menara TelekomKuala Lumpur310 m1,017 ft552001
23Emirates Hotel TowerDubai309 m1,014 ft562000
24AT&T Corporate CenterChicago307 m1,007 ft601989
25JPMorganChase TowerHouston305 m1,002 ft751982
26Baiyoke Tower IIBangkok304 m997 ft851997
27Two Prudential PlazaChicago303 m995 ft641990
28Kingdom CentreRiyadh302 m992 ft412002
29First Canadian PlaceToronto298 m978 ft721976
30Yokohama Landmark TowerYokohama296 m972 ft701993
31Wells Fargo PlazaHouston296 m972 ft711983
32311 South Wacker DriveChicago293 m961 ft651990
33SEG PlazaShenzhen292 m957 ft702000
34American InternationalNew York City290 m952 ft661932
35Key TowerCleveland289 m947 ft571991
36Plaza 66Shanghai288 m945 ft662001
37One Liberty PlacePhiladelphia288 m945 ft611987
38Bank of America TowerSeattle285 m937 ft761985
39Tomorrow SquareShanghai285 m934 ft552003
40Cheung Kong CentreHong Kong283 m928 ft621999
41The Trump BuildingNew York City283 m927 ft701930
42Bank of America PlazaDallas281 m921 ft721985
43OUB CentreSingapore280 m919 ft631986
44Republic PlazaSingapore280 m919 ft661995
45UOB Plaza OneSingapore280 m919 ft661992
46Citigroup CenterNew York City279 m915 ft591977
47Hong Kong New World TowerShanghai278 m913 ft612002
48Scotia PlazaToronto275 m902 ft681988
49Williams TowerHouston275 m901 ft641983
50Wuhan World Trade TowerWuhan273 m896 ft581998

For a longer listing go to List of skyscrapers

History of tallest skyscrapers

Building Built Status RoofPinnacleFloors
Home Insurance Building 1885Destroyed 180 ft55 m 12
World Building 1890Destroyed309 ft94 m349 ft106 m20
Manhattan Life Insurance Building1894Destroyed348 ft106 m 18
Milwaukee City Hall1895Present350 ft107 m 9
Park Row Building1899Present391 ft119 m 30
Singer Building1908Destroyed612 ft187 m 47
Met Life Tower1909Present700 ft213 m50
Woolworth Building 1913Present792 ft241 m57
40 Wall Street 1930Present927 ft283 m71
Chrysler Building1930Present925 ft282 m1046 ft319 m77
Empire State Building1931Present1250 ft381 m1472 ft449 m102
1 World Trade Center1972Destroyed1368 ft417 m1727 ft 526 m110
Sears Tower1974Present1450 ft442 m1730 ft527 m110
Taipei 1012003Present1470 ft448 m1667 ft508 m101

Disputed Claims:

Top 15 by pinnacle

Top 15 by the highest point on the building.

Building HeightCity
Sears Tower527 m 1730 ftChicago
1 World Trade Center (destroyed)526 m1727 ftNew York City
Taipei 101508 m1667 ftTaipei
John Hancock Center457 m1500 ftChicago
Petronas Towers452 m 1483 ftKuala Lumpur
Empire State Building449 m 1472 ftNew York City
Jin Mao Tower421 m1380 ftShanghai
2 International Finance Centre416 m1364 ftHong Kong
2 World Trade Center (destroyed)415 m1363 ftNew York City
CITIC Plaza391  m 1283 ftGuangzhou
Shun Hing Square 384 m 1260 ftShenzhen
Tuntex 85 Sky Tower378 m1240 ftKaohsiung
Central Plaza374 m1227 ftHong Kong
Bank of China Tower367 m 1205 ftHong Kong
SEG Plaza 356 m1167 ft Shenzhen

Comparison of top modern skyscrapers

Comparison of the Sears Tower, Taipei 101, the Petronas Towers and the Empire State Building.

See also


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