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Old June 8th, 2012, 12:07 PM   #1

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Question Why so many skyscrapers?


From our European perspective, with our beloved "low cities", we have often wondered why in US Americans begun so early to build very high skyscrapers.

We Europeans have copied this architectural choice, but I would say with some decades of delay and in minor scale.

For example, only in these last years, In Milan we are building decent skyscrapers in the expectation of the World Expo.

So, why Americans, with all that free soil, decided already in early 20th century to "go high"?

Someone has made a parallel between the Christian European societies of the Middle Age who built high Gothic cathedrals and the liberal US society who build "Business and Commercial cathedrals", the skyscrapers ...
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Old June 8th, 2012, 02:26 PM   #2

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The basic answer is that land values in the big cities are sky high (no pun intended). Skyscrapers are a way to take fullest advantage of the price the developer paid for the land.
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Old June 8th, 2012, 02:33 PM   #3

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It was more practical and cost efficient with our massive industrial, urbanization and economic growth of the early 20th century. We also have wider street, more modern city grids and the advantage of not having to tear down 700 year old cathedrals or ancient historic city centers.
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Old June 8th, 2012, 02:39 PM   #4

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Originally Posted by Patton View Post
It was more practical and cost efficient with our massive industrial, urbanization and economic growth of the early 20th century. We also have wider street, more modern city grids and the advantage of not having to tear down 700 year old cathedrals or ancient historic city centers.
Your mention of historical city centers makes me remind that in old European cities it's not that obvious to meet skyscrapers in the center, on the contrary.

The "directional centers" are not rarely near to the outskirts [the new skyscrapers at Milan are in the area of the building of the Region, and that's not the center, there there is the historical cathedral dome with the medieval university and other very ancient palaces].
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Old June 8th, 2012, 02:46 PM   #5

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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlpinLuke View Post
Your mention of historical city centers makes me remind that in old European cities it's not that obvious to meet skyscrapers in the center, on the contrary.

The "directional centers" are not rarely near to the outskirts [the new skyscrapers at Milan are in the area of the building of the Region, and that's not the center, there there is the historical cathedral dome with the medieval university and other very ancient palaces].
In American cities the skyscrapers tend to pop up in the center of the city. As in "downtown".
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Old June 8th, 2012, 03:08 PM   #6

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THE SKYSCRAPER MUSEUM NYC

Located in New York City, the world's first and foremost vertical metropolis, The Skyscraper Museum celebrates the City's rich architectural heritage and examines the historical forces and individuals that have shaped its successive skylines. Through exhibitions, programs and publications, the Museum explores tall buildings as objects of design, products of technology, sites of construction, investments in real estate, and places of work and residence.

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The Skyscraper Museum: MANHATTAN TIMEFORMATIONS
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Old June 8th, 2012, 03:56 PM   #7

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The invention of the Bessemer process made steel cheap enough to produce on an industrial scale. It was also strong enough to allow building vertically. Cities no longer needed to spread outward but now had material that allowed growing upward. A perfect metaphor for a country with aspirations, a country that reached for the stars and grasped the moon.
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Old June 8th, 2012, 04:05 PM   #8

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The problem is that the ONLY industrialized country to build skyscrapers before the 1950's was the US.

Well, one point is that in Europe, most large cities had it's centers already maxed out by the 1890's, when skyscrapers became a possibility. So in fact, there was less demand for new buildings, including skyscrapers.
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Old June 8th, 2012, 04:07 PM   #9

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The 1930's skycrapers also looked much better than the new deformed ones:

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Old June 8th, 2012, 04:09 PM   #10

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rongo View Post
The basic answer is that land values in the big cities are sky high (no pun intended). Skyscrapers are a way to take fullest advantage of the price the developer paid for the land.
I think so, besides the fact that it is an expression of wealth and power.
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