The Age of the Skyscraper Is Past….

When I was in middle school, CBS was broadcasting Bicentennnial Minutes in the runup to 1976.  For a Friday assembly one week, the teachers had us make up our own Bicentennial Minutes, imagining what we would say in 2175 about events 200 years earlier.

One of my classmates spoke about the World Trade Center towers, imagining that they would be demolished 200 years hence, as they would then be among the shortest buildings in New York City.

At the time, it seemed totally noncontroversial: we would go on putting up ever-taller buildings until the mighty Twin Towers were dwarfed by their neighbors.

*          *          *

Of course, the Towers met an untimely end, but that isn’t my point today.


The other day, my wife and I were walking around Chinatown, and I saw the new One World Trade Center tower rising into the clouds.  And I wondered: since the construction of the original World Trade Center, and the Sears Tower in Chicago (now called the Willis Tower as Sears has pretty much imploded), how many buildings taller than the Empire State Building (the quintessential skyscraper when I was growing up) have been built in the US?

There have been two:

  • The new World Trade Center tower;
  • The Trump International Hotel in Chicago.

But then again, there are so many practical reasons not to build really tall buildings: they’re too expensive to build, horribly expensive to insure, difficult to evacuate in an emergency, and what happens if one gets hit by an airplane?

So much for our middle-school imaginings….

3 thoughts on “The Age of the Skyscraper Is Past….”

  1. The Empire State Building has been hit by an airplane (not a jet) on more than one occasion.

    I am sure that all you’d get even if a jet hit it would be the upperfloors taken out and burned. No way would it fall.

    Nobodey wants to work in a big anonymous building anymore. The trend now is a smallish building with a neighborhood and things to do, kind of like working on a Main Street.

    We have a surplus of office buildings in our area.

    One has already been repurposed as a boarding school. Another one was sold off to a state college; they use it as a multi purpose building and the building is right on the edge of their campus.

    Community colleges are also buying empty office buildings and using them for classroom space.

    And they are planning on taking quite a few and converting them into condos.

  2. Skyscrapers have always fascinated me. I longed to go by them though strangely not to actually go in. it wasn’t until I was a teen that I have been in a skyscraper, the John Hancock and the Aon building and oddly have never been in the Sears Tower (I will NEVER call it the Willis Tower just like Comisky Park will never be Cellular One Field).

  3. And what about the high rise buildings that have unusual shapes and other fixings?:)

    There is a 15 story hotel — not gargantuan or very high by any long shot —in our area that has been bought by a new owner. It was like the old Tower Record building: round in diameter.

    That building always fascinated me.

    Shapes and other things — like the beveled top of the Citbank Building in NYC or the big red 666 that used to be at The Top of The Sixes in NYC – is what makes a building stand out. To me, this is art.:)

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