If someone asked you where the skyscraper was born, what would you answer? Most people would probably say New York City, but they would be wrong. Chicago was the birthplace of the skyscraper.

Dictionaries define a skyscraper as “a building of great height which is constructed on a steel skeleton.” The first building to fit that description was the Home Insurance Company Building. It was built in Chicago in 1884. It was  storeys, i.e. floors, high – a great height for that time. It had a strong framework (structure) of iron and steel instead of walls of stone to support it.


The Home Insurance Company Building does not exist any more, they pulled it down in 1931, but visitors to the city can still see other early Chicago skyscrapers. One of them is the 16-storey Reliance Building, which was completed in 1894. The Reliance Building had  windows that, for the first time, covered almost the entire surface.

For many years, Chicago was behind New York in the construction of skyscrapers. It got back into the competition with buildings like the John Hancock Center, built in 1968. There are luxury flats on forty-nine of the Center’s 100 floors. Sometimes people who live on a  high floor look out on a sunny sky while those on the downstairs floors can watch the rain from their windows.

Architects and engineers have the technology to build even taller structures, but to do this, they must find the money for them and these new skyscrapers should not harm the environment.


Back in 1956, the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright dreamed of a skyscraper of 528 floors. He planned to build it near the shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago. Wright’s dream never became a reality, but who knows? Someday somebody may build his tower in the city where the skyscraper was born.









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