The First Skyscraper

According to Wikipedia, “The term ‘skyscraper’ was first applied to buildings of steel framed construction of at least 10 stories” and if “it protrudes well above its built environment and changes the overall skyline”.

Due to the invention of the elevator, automated steel construction design, also called skeleton construction and the invention of the telephone, a revolution in architecture was about to transpire in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

Home Insurance Building Chicago
Home Insurance Building was the first skyscraper

The first building to encompass these newly innovative characteristics was the Home Insurance Company building, constructed in 1884 on Adams and LaSalle Streets in Chicago. It was the first tall building to utilize structural steel within its frame. Notably, it was a hybrid steel / cast iron structure, as cast iron was also used and which can be seen in its overall facade. Nevertheless, the Home Insurance Company building has gone into the record books as the ‘Father of the Skyscraper’. In 1931, it was demolished to make way for the 45-story skyscraper art deco Field Building, also called the LaSalle National Bank Building.

The Home Insurance building was the catalyst for developers and architects both in New York and Chicago, giving way to such early 20th century iconic structures as the Woolworth (1913), Equitable (1915), Singer Building (1908) and Flatiron (1902) buildings in New York City and Chicago’s Wigley Building (1921).