To celebrate World Skyscraper Day, we take a look at ten of these sky-tickling towers that have become symbols for different cities around the world.
World Skyscrapers Day happens on 3 September every year to celebrate the super-tall structures that have forever changed the skylines of cities around the world. Dating back to the 19th century, these towering buildings first began popping up in Chicago and New York.
Chicago’s ten-story Home Insurance Building, built in 1884, was the first building to win the title of skyscraper, prompting other cities and architects to start building up. Since then these soaring architectural works have multiplied, pushing boundaries of technology and engineering to reach ever greater heights.
Today, these giants are among the most popular city attractions and make regular appearances on social media for their dizzying views. Read on to discover 10 of the most famous skyscrapers in the world:
1. Burj Khalifa (Dubai)
The Burj Khalifa, with its 2716ft height, is the tallest skyscraper in the world, which is why it deserves the first place in our ranking. Opened in 2010, it also holds some other impressive records, such as having the world’s tallest service elevator, the world’s tallest outdoor viewing platform and the world’s tallest mosque. Among the highlights of the Burj Khalifa are its viewing platforms: At the Top, on floors 124 and 125, and At the Top Sky, on the 148th floor, where you can admire the desert and the Arabian Gulf 1821ft above sea level. Between floors 152, 153 and 154 there’s also The Lounge bar where you can sip cocktails at exhilarating heights.
Fun fact: In the United Arab Emirates everything is bigger and the Burj Khalifa is no exception. It can be seen up to 59 miles away.
2. Empire State Building (New York)
One of the most famous skyscrapers in the world and an iconic attraction of the Big Apple, the Empire State Building has made history. Opened in 1931, it was the first building in the United States to have more than 100 floors. With a height of 1453ft, it held the title of the world’s tallest building until 1972, when it was beaten by the North Tower of the World Trade Center (one of the two Twin Towers), also in New York. Its construction was extremely fast, lasting only 410 days. Today it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, welcoming more than 4 million visitors every year. Since 1978 it’s been home to the Empire State Building Run-Up, a challenging race from the ground floor to the 86th floor viewpoint. The second observation deck is located on the 102nd floor, and both serve up some spectacular views.
Fun fact: In certain atmospheric conditions those who kiss on the Empire State Building may get a shock!
3. Taipei 101 (Taipei)
Consisting of 101 floors and standing 1670ft high, the highly innovative Taipei 101 is the fifth tallest skyscraper in the world. Architect Chung Ping Wang designed it to resemble a bamboo stem, a symbol of strength and longevity in Asian culture. In addition to the elegance of the design and cutting-edge technology that allows it to withstand strong winds and earthquakes, the building has viewing platforms that offer truly spectacular views. Both indoor and outdoor, the observatories are located on the 88th, 89th and 91st floors. On the 86th floor there’s a glamorous Taiwanese cuisine restaurant that’s the perfect place for a memorable date.
Fun fact: The design of the building and the neighborhood where it stands follow the principles and philosophy of feng shui. This means the buildings are designed in harmony with each other to channel positive energies, otherwise known as chi.
4. One World Trade Center (New York)
Also known as the Freedom Tower, the One World Trade Center is the sixth tallest skyscraper in the world. The building was inaugurated in 2014 and was part of the reconstruction of the World Trade Center, following the tragic attacks of September 11. The Skypod elevators whizz you up to the observation deck between floors 100 and 102 in just 47 seconds. From here the view over New York is truly breathtaking. There’s also the opportunity to delve into the history of the building and the city with interactive exhibits.
Fun fact: It’s no accident that the tower’s height in feet is 1776; this is the year the US Declaration of Independence was signed.
5. Willis Tower (Chicago)
In our list of the most iconic skyscrapers in the world, the tallest building in Chicago, the mother of all vertical monsters, could not be left out. The Willis Tower, also known as the Sears Tower, was inaugurated in 1973 and with its 108 floors and 1729ft height, held the world record for tallest for 25 years. Its biggest draw, which also happens to be quite photogenic, is the Skydeck. Made entirely of glass, the 103rd floor viewing platform seems to be suspended in midair. In 2009 the platform was upgraded with the addition of The Ledge, retractable panoramic cubes that offer visitors even more heart-pounding views.
Fun fact: The building is popular with urban climbers and in 1981 it was climbed for the first time by Dan Goodwin. Dressed as Spiderman, Goodwin finished the climb in seven hours. He was arrested once he got to the top. In 1999 the building was climbed for a second time by the French urban climber Alain “Spiderman” Robert, who made it to the top using just his bare hands and feet.
6. Petronas Towers (Kuala Lumpur)
These sky-piercing twin towers are an unmistakable symbol of Kuala Lumpur. Designed by architect César Pelli, the Petronas Towers mix the traditional features of Islamic art with an extremely innovative and futuristic design. The towers are made even more recognizable by the Skybridge, a suspension bridge 558ft high and 192ft long that connects the two buildings and holds the record for the highest two-story bridge in the world. On the 86th floor the viewing platform, 1214ft high, has gorgeous views of the city and its surroundings.
Fun fact: The striking profile of the two towers has made numerous cameos in films such as Entrapment, Fair Game and Independence Day Resurgence.
7. Lotte World Tower (Seoul)
The tallest skyscraper in South Korea, the Lotte World Tower stands at 1821ft and consists of 123 floors. This mammoth work of architecture and engineering has earned it the LEED Gold Certificate, which guarantees its sustainability. The Seoul skyline would not be the same without this imposing building, which is inspired by the country’s porcelain and calligraphy. The tower is also a fascinating tourist attraction, thanks to its vertiginous viewing platform, Seoul Sky. At a height of 1568ft, this observation point holds the record for the highest viewpoint with a glass floor ever built.
Fun fact: Inside the Lotte World Tower you’ll find one of the most luxurious five-star hotels in South Korea, the Lotte Hotels.
8. Shanghai Tower (Shanghai)
An iconic skyscraper with a unique design, The Shanghai Tower is both immediately recognizable and extremely elegant. Located in the Pudong district, at 2073.5ft high it’s the tallest building in all of China. Inaugurated in 2015, the building is not only a feast for the eyes with its sinuous glass facade, its interior, which is divided into nine different sections, is also decidedly luxurious. For 360-degree views of the city, head to the Top of Shanghai Observatory on the 118th floor.
Fun fact: In addition to having the highest indoor observation deck in the world, the Shanghai Tower also has the fastest elevators in the world, which whisk you to the Top of Shanghai observatory at 46m/h.
9. 30 Hudson Yards (New York)
Opened only in 2019, 30 Hudson Yards has quickly become one of the world’s most famous skyscrapers. The postmodern structure stretches over 1266ft high with 73 floors. At the top of the building is The Edge, the tallest glass-floored outdoor viewing deck in the Western Hemisphere. Opened in 2020, this vertiginous terrace is suspended 1099ft high and promises truly extraordinary city views. Walking on the transparent floor is a rare thrill.
Fun fact: City Climb at Edge, which allows visitors to climb to the top of the crown of the tower from an outdoor staircase, is the tallest outdoor staircase in the world.
10. One Vanderbilt (New York)
New York never stops and nor does its skyline, which is constantly evolving with the addition of ever-higher city attractions. This is certainly the case for the One Vanderbilt. Inaugurated in 2020 it’s already become an iconic skyscraper, much loved on social networks. There’s also a popular 1401ft-high observation deck, Summit One Vanderbilt, located between the floors 91 and 93. The observatory is divided into three sections, which also make up the three main phases of the experience. The first part involves riding up in the glass elevators, the second is standing in the cube-like glass balconies jutting out from the façade 1066ft above Madison Avenue, and the third is admiring the sublime views from the bar.
Fun fact: One Vanderbilt was conceived as a journey into the future, to be experienced through immersive exhibitions and art installations designed by Kenzo Digital.
Discover the best experiences at these famous skyscrapers: