Skyscrapers Before 1900

Skyscrapers Before 1900

Tallest buildings in the world before 1900.

Skyscrapers are glamorous symbols of our modern world. They are ostentatiously commercial, devices to extract maximum rent from crowd urban thoroughfares. This reflects our age which has the technological and commercial will to build such structures. Before 1900 the tallest buildings where:

1. Great Pyramid at Giza

Built around 2560 BC this was the tallest building in the world until Middle Ages. Scholars believe that when built the Great Pyramid was 280 Egyptian cubits tall, 146.478 metres (480.57 ft). Erosion and loss of the gold platted cap known as the pyramidion has reduced that height. The present height is 138.75 metres (455.22 ft).


2. The Old St Pauls, London

In 1087 the Anglo Saxon Cathedral servicing the diocese of London was destroyed by fire. The replacement church was consecrated in 1240. Work took over 200 years because of a second fire in 1136. In 1256 and 1314 the cathedral was enlarged. Depending upon the date of the spire this was for a short while the tallest building in Europe.  Sadly, the cathedral was destroyed n 1666 during the great fire of London and was replaced by a new cathedral. Although the spire is often said to be 489 feet (149 m) tall Sir Christopher Wren who was the architect of the new cathedral believed this to be an overestimate and gave 460 feet (140 m).

3. Lincoln Cathedral

Lincoln Cathedral was completed in 1311. From 1311 until 1548 when the spire collapsed in gales it was the tallest building in Europe. The spire which stood on top of the central tower reputedly reached a height of 525 feet (160 m). The remaining central tower reaches a height of 83 m (271 feet).

4. St. Mary’s church, Stralsund, Germany

For a short from 1549 until 1569 this became the tallest building in the world. For a while it was superseded by the St-Pierre Cathedral at Beauvais in France. The Beauvais tower was 153.0 m (502 ft) tall. It collapsed in 1573 leaving the Stralsund church as the world’s tallest building from 1625 until 1647. It was 151 metres (495 ft) tall. The famous steeple was built to replace a steeple that blew down in a storm in 1495. In 1647 the tall steeple burned down. It was replaced by the baroque dome that we can see today. The tower is currently 104 metres (341 ft) tall.

File:Stralsund Marienkirche 2006.jpg

5. Strasbourg Cathedral

Strasbourg Cathedral was the world’s tallest building from 1647 to 1874. It is 144.0 m (472 ft) tall ad was completed in 1439.  In 1539, the world’s first documented Christmas tree was set up inside the Münster.

6.Church of St. Nicholas, Hamburg

The Lutherian Church of St. Nicholas was the world’s tallest building from 1874 to 1876. The twin spires were 147.3 m (483 ft) high. Only one survives. The church was built to replace a previous church destroyed i the 1843 great fire of Hamburg. It was consecrated in 1874. During the Second World War it served as a beacon for allied air raids. It was destroyed by bombing in 1943 and only the tower survives.  The tower was restored during the 1990s.

7. Notre Dame, Rouen, France

Building work started n the cathedral of Rouen in 1220. A spire was added to the medieval cathedral in 1876. The spire raised the height of the cathedral to 151.0 m (495 ft). The Notre Dame at Rouen was the tallest building in the world from 1876 until 1880.


8. Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral was built between 1248 and 1880. In 1880 it became the tallest building in the world. It held this title until 1884when the Washington Monument was erected.  Work on the medieval cathedral ceased in 1473. The south tower was completed up to the level of the belfry and the project was left in limbo. A huge crane was left in place on the tower for over 400 years. In 1842 work recommenced using the original plans at the huge expense of over US$ 1 billion.

File:Cologne Cathedral.jpg

9. Washington Monument

The Washington monument became the tallest building in the world in 1884. It is still the world’s tallest obelisk, standing 555 feet 5⅛ inches (169.294 m).[

10. Eiffel Tower,Paris

In 1889 the Washigton monument was superseded by the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It is 896 m to the top floor. It is the single most visited paid monument in the world. It remained the tallest building in the world until the Chrysler Tower was constructed in New York in 1930.

File:Eiffel Tower 06.jpg

All pictures are from Wikipeda.

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Greg Miller, posted this comment on Dec 14th, 2010

I work at 195 Broadway in the ATT building. Across the street is 15 Park Row. My father worked there in the 60s. It’s hard to imagine that it was one of the tallest office buildings in the world when it was finished.

At lunch I sometimes walk among these bohemiths and admire the saudacity it took to place them here.

I enjoyed your article. Made me think and put things into perspective.

Halil Seker, posted this comment on Jan 9th, 2011

I’m a student studying architecture at University of East London and I’m happy to say this article has helped with one of my essays, it has nothing to do with my project but it has made me realise some aspects of these classic but famous building so that I can associate them to the building I’m talking about.

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