Early Skyscrapers - Construction of First Skyscrapers
Under the early skyscrapers is considered a range of tall, commercial buildings that were built between 1884 and 1939, mainly in the American cities of New
York and Chicago. Early skyscrapers emerged in the US as a result of economic growth after the Civil War, the financial organization of American
businesses, and shortage of land for building. New York had a colonial history and because of that its real estate was broken up into many small parcels of
land. It became the national center of American finance in the first half of the 19th century with banks in the financial district of Wall Street which
fought with English institutions for international dominance. The Great Fire of 1835 destroyed most of the old financial buildings, which had to be rebuilt
in the 1840s and 1850s. Also New York's population tripled between 1840 and 1870 and property values started rising. All that was a fertile ground for
building skyscrapers. At the same time the other major site in the development of early skyscrapers was Chicago. It grew from a village of around fifty
inhabitants in 1830, to a city of 30,000 in 1850 and nearly 300,000 by 1870. It also became the railroad center for the American West and its primary
trading city. Similarly to New York City, in October 1871 the Great Chicago Fire destroyed the heart of the city which buildings were built of wood. Center
had to be rebuilt but not out of wood (which was logically prohibited after the fire) and in a new grid network. These conditions resulted in construction
of tall single buildings.
Construction and practicality of skyscrapers was made possible by technological innovations during the middle of the 19th century. One of those innovations
was the elevator building taller than six stories were difficult for everyday climbing. The first powered elevators appeared in England the 1830s but only
in lower buildings. Hydraulic elevator appeared in 1870 and could operate on greater heights but it hade design flaws which were fixed by 1876. Other
invention that allowed constricting higher buildings was the iron framed building. Traditionally, buildings were held by their walls but if the building is
higher walls had to be thicker - which has its limitations. Iron framed buildings are supported by internal metal frames which allowed for walls of normal
thickness that hung from the construction or stood on it.
There is no firm agreement over which building should be considered the first skyscraper. Before for buildings, term was used in 18th century for horses,
sails at the top of a ship's mast, tall hats and tall men. At the end on 19th century it was used for large public monuments and only after that for
buildings and tall office blocks. George Post's New York Equitable Life Building, of 1870, was the first tall office building to have the elevator. Produce
Exchange of 1884 had an advanced metal frame design. The Home Insurance Building in Chicago, opened in 1884, is most often labeled as the first skyscraper
for the same reasons.