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Top 5 Skyscraper Cities

The B1M | 5:38

Top 5 Skyscraper Cities

Fred Mills

31 January 2018

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SKYSCRAPERS are impressive engineering feats that are often the most visible buildings in a city by virtue of their height.

From Chicago and New York – where they first appeared in the late nineteenth century – skyscrapers have spread across the world, often accompanying rapid development and growth in areas where land is at a premium.

But while some cities have built the occasional tower, others have truly embraced building tall. Here, we countdown the five cities with the most skyscrapers.

There are two commonly used heights to define a skyscraper – 100 metres (328 feet) and 150 metres (492 feet). Given that the height of skyscrapers is continuing to rise, we have chosen the higher of the two definitions to shape our list.

5 – SHANGHAI, CHINA – 141 SKYSCRAPERS

We kick off with the first of two cities in China, and a total of four in Asia, to have made our list. Like many Chinese cities, Shanghai has seen rapid development over the past 30 years.

Above: Since 1988, 141 skyscrapers have been built in Shanghai.

Although the first tower over 150 metres – the Jin Jiang Hotel – was not built until 1988, the city is now home to an incredible 141 skyscrapers.

This mass of high rises includes the Shanghai Tower, which at 632 metres is the second tallest building in the world.

With 11 further skyscrapers currently under construction, expect to see Shanghai continuing to climb this list in the future.

4 – TOKYO, JAPAN – 145 SKYSCRAPERS

With 145 Skyscrapers, Tokyo just edges Shanghai, and becomes the second Asian city to make our countdown.

Another late starter, Japan’s Building Standard Law restricted the height of buildings to a maximum of 31 meters (102 feet) until 1963. 

Above: Tokyo's 145 skyscrapers place it at fourth on our list.

Shortly after this law was dismissed, the 36-storey "Kasumigaseki Building", Japan’s first modern office skyscraper, was completed. This building, the tallest in Asia at the time, ushered in a new wave of high rise construction and skyscrapers have flourished in the city ever since. 

3 – DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – 176 SKYSCRAPERS

In recent years no city has seen more of a construction boom than Dubai.

The incredible rate of development is clearly demonstrated by the fact the first skyscraper to be built in the city was completed less than 20 years ago in 1999.

Above: The Burj Al Arab kicked off a wave of skyscraper construction in Dubai (image courtesy of Sam Valadi).

This building, the distinctive Burj Al Arab, paved the way for an unprecedented wave of skyscraper construction in the emirate.

Since this date, the city has built an average of 10 skyscrapers a year including of course, the Burj Khalifa, which at 828 metres (2,717 feet), is the world’s tallest building.

This spate of development has shot Dubai up our list to third place with a staggering 176 skyscrapers. The city also looks set to improve its ranking in the near future, with a further 44 towers currently under construction.

2 – NEW YORK, UNITED STATES – 257 SKYSCRAPERS

Taking second place is the sole North American representative, and the only city outside of Asia to make our countdown.

With 10 buildings to have held the title of “the world’s tallest building” at some point, New York is a city synonymous with the skyscraper.

Above: New York is the only non-Asian city to make our list (image courtesy of Iwan Baan).

Since the 187 metre (614 foot) "Singer Building" was completed in 1908, New York remained the city with the most skyscrapers for around 100 years, before being overtaken in the 2000s.

New York is now home to 257 skyscrapers, the highest of which, is the 541 metre, 1,776 foot One World Trade Centre.

1 – HONG KONG, CHINA – 317 SKYSCRAPERS

Topping our list - with a staggering 60 skyscrapers more than any other city - is Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s unique location, bounded by a harbour and steep mountains, puts suitable land at a premium and creates a potent environment for the development of skyscrapers.

Above: Hong Kong tops our list with 60 more skyscrapers than any other city.

The building of Jardine House in 1973, the city’s first skyscraper, kicked off a trend that has continued at pace to this day. Construction peaked in 2003 when an astonishing 57 skyscrapers were completed in the city in a single year.

This rapid spate of building in the early 2000s lead to the city overtaking New York as the city with the most skyscrapers and today there are an incredible 317 structures in the city.

THE WIDER LIST

To put these numbers in context, its worth looking at the position of some other global cities.

Chicago, home of the first skyscraper, is sixth on the global list with 119 skyscrapers.

Melbourne leads the way in Australasia with 40 skyscrapers but ranks 26th globally - while with 17 skyscrapers, London comes 54th on the list. 

Images courtesy of Pyzhou, Hans-Johnson, Elminium, Colin Capelle, Armin Rodler, Iwan Baan, Ryan Cheng, Bigar and Neelaka.

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