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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This may seem like a strange question, but...

Americans (fellow American), what effect do it have on you when you view the skylines of cities outside our nation, many in places like Africa, Asia, Latin America in cities we either don't know or know little about?

I don't know about you, but when I go and view them, I am in awe.

We are a huge, successful, and geographically issolated nation (we only border two other nations and our Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts are massive).

We sometimes see the world as being the US.

When I see some of these global skylines, often in cities I've never heard of, I'm blown away by it...and I end up feeling darned provencial.

For all our discussion of which US cities are the best, the greatest, etc., there is a whole big, wide world out there with similiar things happening and sometimes I think we just don't get that world in focus.

Is that true of other nations, as well as the US? No doubt. But I think the sense of issolation in our country exceeds the others; we are a world unto ourselves.

Do others have such feelings when they view the type of pictures I've described?
 

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European skylines wow me. I especially like how the great cathedrals were so towering for their time. I also like the low slung turrets and domes of cities like Rome and Madrid.
Skyscrapers look best mixed in with other buildings from earlier periods. London looks fantatstic with its mix of gothic and postmodern so does Barcelona.

I don't particularly like a skyline of nothing but squalid apartment towers or glassy, pretentious office edifices. There needs to be a mix of the two along with interesting lowrises and midrises....perhaps a bridge or other engineering feat. A low building can be just as much a signature as a tall one. The Sydney Opera House is a good example. I am fascinated by the skylines of Tokyo, Manila and Hong Kong. Shanghai looks forced as do many sunbelt cities here in the US.

I like skyscrapers when they are well designed and have a personality. The skylines Sydney and Melboune, Montreal and Toronto never fail to impress me. Vancouver's skyline on the oher hand is very disturbing as it gives off a hint of Kowloon.

As for SA Buenos Aires is simply dazzling.
 

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edsg25 said:
When I see some of these global skylines, often in cities I've never heard of, I'm blown away by it...and I end up feeling darned provencial.
There are plenty of cities in the world with impressive skylines but America is truly the birthplace of the modern skyscraper. Pre-war skyscrapers in New York and Chicago are so damn gorgeous and usually beats the pants off of any pre-fab building that are common in "instant-skyscraper-cities."

Your comment can be easily be reversed: when I see American skylines. . .I end up feeling darned provincial.
 

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I think it's fascinating so many cities in the world have sprung up from nothing in the last several decades: Dubai, UAE, Brasilia, Brazil, etc. I'm also awe-struck by some of these cities; they just make me wonder why most (but not all) of the new construction in the US is unending suburbia.

I read an article once that foreigners find us curiously insular. I think it's true, but has more to do with our history than any intentional arrogance.
 

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A42251 said:
I feel pride, because we Americans invented skyscrapers and now many other countries are copying us.
No you didnt but still....I wouldnt call it copying!
 

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Being a native New Yorker I can't help but to feel amused by you feeling "provincial" by seeing all those other skylines. I certainly do not. But you must take into account other things about those so called skylines of those other cities. Poor design, shoddy workmanship and poor or non existant urban planning is pretty common. Quite frankly, I'd take the Chicago skyline any day over many of those horrid skylines around the world. They just have the skyscraper itch we had a century ago.
 

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edsg, I think you're right. whatever tonka says about other skylines, the rest of the world is coming into its own. Its exciting, and hopefully can quiet some of the more nationalist/isolationist people within our country. Someday we'll realize that we are no longer the exception that we once were. and that will give us all the more reason to continue to become a better place.

Tonka, Houston doesn't even have zoning laws. think about it. LA, ATL, DC are all constantly stuck in gridlock. most of suburban america can't buy a carton of milk without driving somewhere, and most of america is suburbanizing. and we don't even have to deal with a history of colonial exploitation, domination or ethnic strife. can you really claim that we have good urban planning?
 

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eddyk said:
No you didnt but still....I wouldnt call it copying!

I wouldn't call it copying either. but there is no argument that the first skyscrapers were built in America, particularly in Chicago. It is where the confluence of steel, elevators and water pumps were first combined.

tall church spires don't count as skyscrapers, as they aren't inhabitable. So I'm not sure what the hell you're on about.

oh, and by the way...

 

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Since the 1500's buildings (not talking about churches, castles or whatever) became higher and higher, few (but not none) buildings in the middle ages where more then 2 or 3 story high, very slowly they rose up, the US (or the Brits, I don't want to start an argument here) where the first to build a "modern" skyscraper, but even if, at that time, they didn't, I doubt the rest of the world wouldn't have tried to go higher then 12 story high
 

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All of this is bad logic that's just going to go in circles, so I suggest we end the topic of who invented skyscrapers and what not now. If you want to find that out, do some research on the Internet or read some books and magazines.

Anyway, yes they do have an impact on me, but it depends on the place. I'm amazed to see how far countries have come in only a few decades, and how cities have literally been born (well, reborn) into modern metropolises. But to a certain extent, I'm saddened by the way these cities have become. It just seems like a game of who can build the biggest and best until they are topped by someone else. And I understand competition is healthy and exciting, but I don't see anything interesting about "THE GREATEST MALL IN ALL OF ASIA/EUROPE/NORTH AMERICA/THE WORLD" that can make someone come back.

So what I guess I'm trying to say is that, yeah, a mall full of Prada and Gucci is great for a city that was once not even on the map, but does that really show progress or uniqueness in a world full of the same kinds of things? Are these cities something that the world will get a feeling of reverence by seeing, or will they fall the way of many places in history that have rusted out and have become obscure?
 

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I find the pictures of the massive cities to be unbelieveable, buildings as far as you can see. I've never been to NYC but Chicago, LA, Toronto they are all big cities but pale in size to others in the wider world.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
i must admit that a good percentage of the "awe" i expressed on the intitial post had little to do with aestethics or the quality of the architecture. more than anything else, some of the pictures of massive skylines (albeit mundane and undoubtedly mostly residential) are just reminders to me of how large that world is beyond our shores.

i believe, for all our power and sheer size (and maybe because of them), we can get damned provencial about the rest of the world....and massive skylines in cities I've never heard of gives me quite a reality check on how competitve the world out there is with us....and what the implications of that will mean for our future.
 

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I know exactly what you are talking about, and China is very very similar within its borders (the "world unto itself......" when you're there, the sense in so many ways is> that's it. It's just China and then 'foreign land') and the Chinese I believe share many of these types of 'isolated' world-view similarities with Americans. (Chinese are unlike Americans, and Chinese are indeed like others in many many other ways, but anyway)

Yeah, I think the isolation from a real world-view among huge huge numbers of Americans IS such that it becomes a trend, and I see it as being quite a powerful force> I see the "american view", inward-looking perhaps or should I say just-not-particularly-outward-looking, that overwhelms people's ideas/thoughts about the rest of the world as being very strong.

Of course it is the case everywhere. Everywhere is parochial to a degree without a doubt.
 

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well, I think its safe to say that a lot of american skylines looks much better than a lot of these cities out there that look like they were made in sim city. Cut the ugly fat away from those citie's skylines and you probably have skylines in those cities very comparable in size.

Then again, Id probably rather have all those scrappers than a lot of the ugly burbs all over the US.
 

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though also, in my opinion, i'd keep in mind that:

cities like Shanghai are indeed incredible on the ground, and street to street... amazing. It's not just a skyscraper-theme-park; it's a phenomenal and indeed beautiful city in its own right... and there are many others like that
 

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i'm in awe that foreign cities, especially in Asia, are putting up massive skylines in a matter of months that american cities took decades to build.

this only means one thing: the US is no longer the skyscraper capital - it's in the far east - ie China.

of course, provincialism is something that afflicts numerous americans, as demonstrated by the vapid, idiotic remarks from the likes of tonka.
 

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It only means that the economic influence of USA is dwindling. And now East Asia is taking over particularly the NorthEast and SouthEast Asia. You can see this by their rapid development and modernization including the rapidly increasing of their skylines. In the 19th century it is for britain, 20th century it is for USA, 21st century will be for EastAsia for sure.
 
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