In the 1850s, New York City was short on prime real estate and deep into establishing our nation’s financial centers. Chicago’s population exploded from less than 100 hardy souls in 1830 to more than 30,000 just two decades later. These two historic facts alone don’t explain Skyscraper Day.
Still, they give you an idea of how transformational these buildings were during their time. The need, desire and pure will to make more of limited space all came together. Architectural and engineering talents of the day made it happen.
Few stand as tall in that crowd of building pioneers as Louis H. Sullivan. When we celebrate Skyscraper Day on September 3, we’re celebrating his birthday too. Sullivan, revered as the Father of Skyscrapers, originated the concept of form following function.
Our unofficial first skyscraper, Chicago’s Home Insurance Building, reached for the clouds with 10 floors totaling 138 feet. Today, our One World Trade Center proudly stands in midtown Manhattan as America’s tallest skyscraper with 104 floors. At 1,776 feet, it also stands in honor of the signing of our Declaration of Independence.
How should we celebrate a day on the calendar dedicated to our tallest buildings? We can pause in amazement at the architectural and engineering innovations that make them possible. We can applaud the men and women who transform blueprints into structures that stretch so far up into blue skies.
They’ll be the first to smile when we dig out our Legos on September 3. We’ll just tell anyone who asks that we’ve been inspired to make our own forms follow function. We plan on scraping the skies and having fun too.