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Old November 26th, 2008, 02:55 AM   #1
WrightTurn
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The first skyscraper?

For a long time the first true skyscraper was thought to be the Home Insurance Building.

Here is a link to an image:

http://www.debdebe.org/wp-content/ho...e-building.jpg

However, the following is from a recent article in Science News discussing the HIB's role in skyscraper development:

"If there is a building in which all these technical factors--structural system, elevator, utilities--converge at the requisite level of maturity," argues architectural historian Carl Condit, "it's the Equitable Life Assurance Building in New York." Completed in 1870, the building rose 7-1/2 stories, twice the height of its neighbors. To lighten the building and keep costs down, engineer George B. Post used a primitive type of skeletal frame in its construction. A great fire destroyed the building in 1912.

This would seem a fairly solid argument to me. Certainly some buildings of antiquity were taller--even much taller in some case. But we don't count the Pyramids as skyscrapers per se.

Or do you? How do you define the term "skyscraper?" If your definition is different from Condit's, what is the earliest example you would give?
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Old November 26th, 2008, 03:02 AM   #2
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I would not count the pyramids or the early cathedrals of Europe skyscrapers. I would not even call the Eiffel Tower a true skyscraper. Although all these buildings scrape the sky they were built for reasons other than to house people and businesses on a limited land mass. I think the early buildings of Yemen may be the very first skyscrapers around.Sure you can call tall buildings in the suburbs skyscrapers but I think they were intended to make the most of a specific urban lot.
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Old November 26th, 2008, 03:07 AM   #3
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Aren't they more watch towers, like the Italian campaniles?

I think any definition has to include elevators in any case. Otherwise practical use becomes an issue.
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Old November 26th, 2008, 04:08 AM   #4
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I agree about elevators.

Yemen looks like an early (200 AD) Upper West Side.
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Old November 26th, 2008, 04:25 AM   #5
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Old November 26th, 2008, 05:11 AM   #6
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the 1st skyscrpaer is and always was "Home Insurance Building" not the Equitable Life Assurance Building. period
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Old November 26th, 2008, 06:48 AM   #7
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What about the leaning tower of Pisa
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Old November 26th, 2008, 06:54 AM   #8
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What about Babel?
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Old November 26th, 2008, 06:57 AM   #9
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Why should skyscrapers be defined by having steel inner structure or not?
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Old November 26th, 2008, 06:29 PM   #10
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Because then you would have endless debates of what the first skyscraper was.

You can argue about "tall buildings" all you want, but a skyscraper is defined by it's steel structure and use of elevators.

I'm sure there are a lot of buildings from the 1870's (and before) that had 7+ stories.
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Old November 26th, 2008, 08:14 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eklips View Post
Why should skyscrapers be defined by having steel inner structure or not?
It shouldn't. These contrived definitions are from a modern Western perspective that disregards history. A building shouldn't need a steel structure or an elevator to be called a skyscraper. An elevator is simply a feature built into a skyscraper to make it more practical. What building technique was used is also irrelevant.

The Pyramids in Egypt are skyscrapers as is the Tower of Babel, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and those towers in Yemen.
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Old November 26th, 2008, 08:28 PM   #12
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Alexandria's lighthouse is the first one by far.
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Old November 27th, 2008, 03:09 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isaidso View Post
It shouldn't. These contrived definitions are from a modern Western perspective that disregards history. A building shouldn't need a steel structure or an elevator to be called a skyscraper. An elevator is simply a feature built into a skyscraper to make it more practical. What building technique was used is also irrelevant.

The Pyramids in Egypt are skyscrapers as is the Tower of Babel, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and those towers in Yemen.
I agree with the elevator bit. If you are looking for criteria for the first 'modern world' skyscraper then maybe. However, I don't think the Pyramids should be considered skyscrapers. They don't really have 'floors', just a maze of tunnels and are more wide then tall.
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Old November 27th, 2008, 03:20 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eureka! View Post
I agree with the elevator bit. If you are looking for criteria for the first 'modern world' skyscraper then maybe. However, I don't think the Pyramids should be considered skyscrapers. They don't really have 'floors', just a maze of tunnels and are more wide then tall.
Modern skyscraper wasn't the the thread question. A pyramid isn't nearly as practical as modern skyscrapers, but once again, criteria such as floors simply make a skyscraper more useful.

Skyscraper means a building that scrapes the sky. Layout, floor plans, modern technology, windows, function, etc. don't change the fact that a pyramid is a tall building that scrapes the sky.

Your argument implies that if we constructed more usable floors inside the pyramid that it suddenly becomes a skyscraper? People have pre conceived notions of what a skyscraper is simply because of the era we live in. 2000 years from now, functions and layout within buildings may change again, but it won't change the fact that the pyramids scrape the sky in the same way that the CN Tower, or Petronas Towers do.
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Old November 27th, 2008, 03:27 AM   #15
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Quote:
Giant Wild Goose Pagoda or Big Wild Goose Pagoda (Chinese: 大雁塔; pinyin: Dyn Tǎ), is a Buddhist pagoda located in southern Xi'an, Shaanxi province, China. It was built in 652 during the Tang Dynasty and originally had five stories, although the structure was rebuilt in 704 during the reign of Empress Wu Zetian and its exterior brick facade renovated during the Ming Dynasty. One of the pagoda's many functions was to hold sutras and figurines of the Buddha that were brought to China from India by the Buddhist translator and traveller Xuanzang.


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The Small Wild Goose Pagoda, sometimes Little Wild Goose Pagoda (Chinese: 小雁塔; pinyin: Xiǎoyn Tǎ), is one of two significant pagodas in the city of Xi'an, China, the site of the old Han and Tang capital Chang'an. The other notable pagoda is the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, originally built in 652 and restored in 704. The Small Wild Goose Pagoda was built between 707–709, during the Tang Dynasty under Emperor Zhongzong of Tang (r 705–710). The pagoda stood 45 m (147 ft) until the 1556 Shaanxi earthquake. The earthquake shook the pagoda and damaged it so that it now stands at a height of 43 m (141 ft) with fifteen levels of tiers. The pagoda has a brick frame built around a hollow interior, and its square base and shape reflect the building style of other pagodas from the era.


1200 years before the 7 1/2 storey building in NYC, this pagoda was already standing at twice the number of floors.
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Old November 28th, 2008, 05:57 PM   #16
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Just checked on wikipedia the history of the term. Quite ironic that after 3 years on the site I'd never done that before.

"The word "skyscraper" originally was a nautical term referring to a tall mast or its main sail on a sailing ship. The term was first applied to buildings in the late 19th century as a result of public amazement at the tall buildings being built in Chicago and New York City. The traditional definition of a skyscraper began with the "first skyscraper", a steel-framed ten storey building. Chicago's now demolished ten storey steel-framed Home Insurance Building (1885) is generally accepted as the "first skyscraper"."

So the term skyscraper was first coined by people being impressed by high buildings, and it is afterwards that experts gave it an ethnocentrist description.

I think it's safe to think that the height of a building compared to it's general environment is a much better criteria than it having a steel structure or not.
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Old November 28th, 2008, 06:54 PM   #17
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But that's the point. When you say "skyscraper" you are referring to a modern tower, which in just about every case is made using steel. Any tall building that was built prior to the Home Insurance Building wasn't called a skyscraper. It was generally called a tower or some varation of that word. The Pyramids are massive structures that just happen to be tall. I wouldn't consider them a tower.
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Old November 28th, 2008, 07:12 PM   #18
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the real first :

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Old November 28th, 2008, 07:21 PM   #19
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I would think the old pagodas of ancient China.
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Old November 28th, 2008, 10:51 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hudkina View Post
But that's the point. When you say "skyscraper" you are referring to a modern tower, which in just about every case is made using steel. Any tall building that was built prior to the Home Insurance Building wasn't called a skyscraper. It was generally called a tower or some varation of that word. The Pyramids are massive structures that just happen to be tall. I wouldn't consider them a tower.
If I remember well the towers in La Dfense are made of a concrete core and not of the usual steel structure.

If we trust that wikipedia quote, skyscrapers was used as an expression to describe the tall buildings that were starting to mushroom in Chicago and NY by the inhabitants. The engineering used to support them is irrelevant, as if these people wouldn't have called today's La Dfense towers skyscrapers.... It seemed to be only about size, not engineering...

Stupid sophism made by "experts" as usual who are enable to realise that not everyone has the same subjectivities as they do. Hence the stupid quest for the "first skyscraper" amongst low rise steel structures buildings moreso than other older tall towers...
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