For thousands of years, humans have been trying to build their way heavenward. Today’s modern glass-and-steel skyscrapers are part of a long history of triumphs in technology and design that began with the ancient Egyptians, continued with the Chicago School, and can still be seen in the monolithic towers shooting up in the past decade in Dubai and China.
As part of its permanent collection, New York City’s Skyscraper Museum has put together an interactive timeline of the tallest buildings throughout history, and the innovations that have allowed people to build higher and higher, like fireproof floors, elevators, and high-strength bolting. With significant buildings and designs represented in photos, the timeline starts with the Great Pyramid built in 2650 B.C.E. and proceeds all the way up to the Burj Khalifa, completed in early 2010, organized by height. Along the bottom of the graphic runs another timeline in greyscale, this one depicting some of history’s tallest buildings to scale. (Who knew the Salisbury Cathedral, built in 1330, boasted a 404-foot-tall spire, almost twice the height of the New York Tribune Building, one of New York’s earliest skyscrapers?)
While some innovations in skyscraper design may be well known by now, the History of Height provides a comprehensive look at the evolution of tall buildings, including the zoning laws that by turns encouraged and stifled skyscraper construction, groundbreaking feats of engineering, and long-demolished towers that made a mark on the urban landscape in the last century, like the aforementioned New York Tribune Building, knocked down in 1966.
Check out the History of Height here