Skyscraper Month

On September 3rd, we celebrate skyscrapers, which are tall buildings. What did skyscrapers look like long ago? This was the world’s first skyscraper.

Today, there are buildings all over the world that stretch up into the sky, a hundred stories or taller. The tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, is more than 160 stories! But skyscrapers weren’t always so tall.

Until the nineteenth century, buildings more than 6 stories tall were uncommon. Buildings were made of weaker materials, so they would simply fall if they got too tall. Or they had a base of bricks, which was too heavy to build higher. People didn’t like walking upstairs, and there was no technology to bring water more than 50 feet high.

Two things happened that made it possible to build skyscrapers. In the 1860s, steel became available. In 1853, Elisa Graves Otis invented an elevator that could carry passengers.

The first skyscraper was built in Chicago from 1884-1885. It was called the Home Insurance Building. The building was ten stories tall. The building’s steel frame supported the weight of the walls, making it very strong. The building was destroyed in 1931 to build another building in its place. 

What Do You Think? Why do you think people build skyscrapers in cities?

Photo Credit: Chicago History Museum/Alamy Stock Photo