The Rise of the Tall Building

by Tom F. Peters, 610 N. Aurora St., Ithaca, NY 14850,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1986, Vol. 56, Issue 11, Pg. 46-49

Document Type: Feature article


The development of the high-rise frame in the U.S. was the result of a collision of many factors. The destruction of Chicago in the great fire of 1871 was one major factor in the start of the tall building. Many former engineering officers from the Civil War armies made their way to Chicago in the late 1860s and '70s, providing the redevelopers with a large pool of ideas. In New York, iron founders furthered the development of iron structures. New York was also the scene of the first elevators, which made practical tall structures. Reliable ventilation, heating and foundations also added to the rise of the tall building. Today, the space frame, an idea originally developed for aircraft hangars may change the shape of tomorrow's high-rise.

Subject Headings: High-rise buildings | Space frames | Iron (material) | HVAC | Fires | Architectural engineering | Elevators | Foundations | United States | Chicago | Illinois | New York

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