What is a Skyscraper?

Chicago skyscrapers from below

The Chicago skyline is defined by its skyscrapers, but what is a skyscraper exactly? Skyscrapers are defined as, “a very tall building of many stories,” though in practice, an expanded definition has been accepted.


How Tall is a Skyscraper?

So, how tall is a skyscraper? The definition of a skyscraper has changed throughout history. In the 1880s, the term was first coined in Chicago to describe the Home Insurance Building. The Home Insurance Building was only 10-stories high, but at the time the building and its steel-framed construction was considered a true innovation. Buildings that ranged between 10 and 20 floors continued to be labeled as “skyscrapers” for years to come. As advances were made in construction, the qualifications to be considered a skyscraper grew to 150-meter (492-foot) minimum. 


What is Considered a Skyscraper? 

While the height is the most apparent qualification for a skyscraper, there is more to a skyscraper than its impressive stature. To be considered a true skyscraper, the building must be self-supporting and contain at least 50% habitable floor space. The precludes dedicated observation towers and other tall structures from qualifying as skyscrapers. 


How Many Skyscrapers are in Chicago?

Compared to other cities with skyscrapers, Chicago is ranked as the eighth-tallest city in the world! While Chicago is known for its architecture and sky-piercing buildings, not all meet the current criteria for a skyscraper. Out of the list of tall buildings found in the Windy City, almost 130 are considered actual skyscrapers. 


Experience New Heights With the Ledge at Skydeck!

To experience the incredible height of a skyscraper in a way you never had before, plan a visit to The Ledge at Skydeck in the famous Willis Tower, which is currently the third tallest building in the world. Located on the 103rd floor of Willis Tower, The Ledge lets you step out onto a glass floor 1,353 feet up in the air! And, while you’re downtown, pay a visit to some of the city’s other famous skyscrapers!

Important Notice Regarding COVID-19

Willis Tower and Skydeck Chicago have implemented measures consistent with CDC and local and federal guidance to try to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on the premises, including enhanced cleaning protocols. Even with these procedures in place, PLEASE BE ADVISED that building occupants, building and Skydeck visitors, or others currently or previously present upon this property and/or the Skydeck MAY HAVE CONTRACTED OR BEEN EXPOSED TO COVID-19 or other infectious diseases, and may expose you. By accessing and using building common areas, the Skydeck, and their associated amenities, you and your party voluntarily assume all risks of your use—INCLUDING THE RISK OF EXPOSURE TO INFECTIOUS DISEASE—and you waive all claims, including claims for negligence, against Willis Tower, Skydeck Chicago, and their respective owners, managers, affiliates, agents and representatives, arising out of such use. The above parties hereby disclaim all liability for any injuries arising out of your use of this property and the Skydeck, including exposure to infectious disease.

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