25 Cities With the Most Impressive Skyline (Part 1)

Jun 17, 2012 11 comments

The skyline of a city is like a fingerprint, unique and as easily identifiable as a country's flag or a national symbol. The Empire State Building, the Burj Khalifa, and the Taipei 101 are some of the iconic buildings that make the world's greatest skylines. The skyline of a city is also seen as symbol of the city's influence and economy. In general, larger cities have broader and taller skylines, though lower density cities can also have smaller skylines.

Here is a list of 25 cities that have the most impressive skyline in the world.

Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong is one of the world's leading international financial centers. The lack of space in the city caused demand for denser constructions, which developed the city to a center for modern architecture and the world's most vertical city. Hong Kong boasts of more than 7800 buildings of which more than 2300 are above 100 meter with a combined height of a whopping 333,836 meter. Hong Kong ranks first in the world in both skyscraper and high-rise count, with at least 52 completed skyscrapers over the height of 200 meter and 272 skyscrapers over 150 meter. It also boasts four of the 15 tallest buildings in the world.

In addition, Hong Kong's skyline is often considered to be the best in the world, with the surrounding mountains and Victoria Harbour complementing the skyscrapers. Every night, many skyscrapers and buildings on both sides of Victoria Harbour light up in a synchronized show called A Symphony of Lights, named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest permanent light and sound festival in the world.


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New York City, USA

New York has one of the most famous skyline in the world. The history of skyscrapers in New York City began with the completion of the World Building in 1890, a structure that rose 348 feet (106 m). The city went through a very early high-rise construction boom that lasted from the early 1910s to the early 1930s, during which 16 of the city's 82 tallest buildings were built—including the Bank of Manhattan Trust Building, the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building, each of which was the tallest in the world at the time of its completion. Since 1890, eleven structures in the city having held the title of world's tallest building.

A second skyscraper boom began about 1960. Since then, the city has seen the completion of nearly 70 structures rising at least 600 feet (183 m) high, including the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The North Tower, "One World Trade Center", was the tallest building in the world from 1972 until 1973 and the tallest building in New York City until the September 11 attacks of 2001.

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Shanghai, China

The city of Shanghai, China is one of the fastest growing cities in the world in terms of skyscraper construction. As of 2004, there had been 6,704 buildings of 11 stories or more completed since 1990. As of December 2011, there are 1,057 completed high-rise buildings in the city, and 165 high-rise buildings either under construction, approved for construction, or proposed for construction, of which three are over 300 m (980 ft) high. Since 2008, Shanghai has boasted more free-standing buildings above 400m than any other city (except Chicago).

Shanghai's first building boom occurred in the 1920s and 30s, during the city's heyday as a multinational center of business and finance. The city's international concessions permitted foreign investment, and with it came architectural styles from the West, as seen today in areas like the French Concession and the Bund. After the Communist takeover in 1949 the city's development was stifled, punished for its earlier capitalist excesses. After economic reforms in 1991, the city is undergoing its second construction boom to fulfill its desire to regain its status as an important global financial center.

The tallest skyscraper in Shanghai is the Shanghai World Financial Center, which is 492 m (1,614 ft) tall with 101 floors. It is currently the tallest building in the People's Republic of China and the third-tallest in the world. The tallest building under construction is the Shanghai Tower, which will have a height of 632 m (2,073 ft) and become the tallest building in China when completed. It is also slated to be the second tallest building in the world after the Burj Khalifa.


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Tokyo, Japan

Skyscrapers are a relatively recent phenomenon in Tokyo, Japan. Due to aesthetic and engineering concerns, Japan's Building Standard Law set an absolute height limit of 31 meters until 1963, when the limit was abolished in favor of a Floor Area Ratio limit. Following these changes in building regulations, a number of high story buildings were erected in quick succession. A booming post-war Japanese economy and the hosting of the 1964 Summer Olympics helped lead to a building boom in Tokyo during the 1960s and 1970s. Construction continued through the 1980s and 1990s as the Japanese asset price bubble rose and fell.

Tokyo has been the site of many skyscraper construction projects in recent years. Since 2007, 13 buildings rising higher than 180 metres (591 ft) have been completed. As of February 2012, eight such buildings are under construction in the prefecture. In total the city has 2,779 buildings higher than 12 stories.


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Chicago, USA

The history of skyscrapers in Chicago began with the 1885 completion of the Home Insurance Building, which is often regarded as the first steel-framed skyscraper in the world. Historically, Chicago has played a prominent role in the development of the skyscraper. Chicago went through a very early high-rise construction boom that lasted from the early 1920s to the mid-1930s, during which time 11 of the city's 91 tallest buildings were constructed. The city then went through an even larger building boom that has lasted from the early 1960s until the present. Overall, the skyline of Chicago is ranked based on existing and under-construction buildings first in the Midwestern United States and second in the United States, after New York City. As of July 2011, there were 1,125 completed high-rises in the city, second in the country behind New York. Based on the average height of the ten tallest completed buildings, Chicago has the tallest skyline in the world.


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Singapore City, Singapore

Singapore's history of skyscrapers began with the 1939 completion of the 17-storey Cathay Building. The 70-metre (230 ft) structure was, at the time of its completion, the tallest building in Southeast Asia; it was superseded by the 87-metre (285 ft) Asia Insurance Building in 1954, which remained the tallest in Singapore until the 100 m (328 ft) Shaw Centre was completed in 1958. Singapore went through a major building boom in the 1970s and 1980s that resulted from the city's rapid industrialisation. The skyscraper-building boom continued during the 1990s and 2000s, with 30 skyscrapers at least 140 m (459 ft) tall, many of them residential towers, constructed from 1990 through 2008.

Singapore has over 4,300 completed high-rises, the majority of which are located in the Downtown Core. In the city, there are 49 skyscrapers that rise higher than 140 metres (459 ft).


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Toronto, Canada

The history of skyscrapers in Toronto began in 1894 with the construction of the Beard Building, which is often regarded as the first skyscraper in the city. Toronto went through its first building boom in the late 1920s and early 1930s, during which the number of high-rise buildings in the city vastly increased. After this period, there was a great lull in construction between 1932 and 1964 with only a single building above 300 feet tall being built.

The city then experienced a second, much larger building boom, which was at its peak between 1967 and 1976. This period saw the construction of Canada's 3 tallest buildings and 6 of its top 10 (at the time). After the mid-1970s, the pace of the boom slowed considerably but continued onto the early 1990s, culminating with the construction of the city's and Canada's 2nd and 3rd tallest buildings: Scotia Plaza and the TD Canada Trust Tower.

After this boom, the city went through a second, shorter lull in construction from 1993 to 2004, in which the city added only one new building to its top 20. By 2005 however, the city's third major building boom began with the construction of One King West and has continued unabated ever since with over 40 planned, under construction or recently built buildings over 150m/500 ft tall. Toronto has 2,506 high rise building at present.


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Toronto Skyline - Sunset

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur is one of the fastest growing metropolitan regions in the country, in terms of population and economy. Prior to the Second World War, many buildings in the city were two storied. After independence in 1957, coupled with the rapid economic growth from the 1970s to the 1990s resulted in the construction of large number of buildings with Islamic styled architecture.

Late modern and postmodern architecture began to appear in the late-1990s and early-2000s. With the economic development, old buildings such as Bok House were razed to make way for new ones. Buildings with all-glass shells exist throughout the city, with the most prominent examples being the Petronas Twin Towers and Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. According to the World Tallest 50 Urban Agglomeration 2010 Projection by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, Kuala Lumpur was ranked 10th among cities to have most buildings above 100 meters with a combined height of 34,035 meters from its 244 high rise buildings.


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Seattle, USA

The history of skyscrapers in Seattle began with the 1904 completion of the Alaska Building, which is often regarded as the first steel-framed skyscraper in the city, rising 14 floors and 203 feet (62 m) in height. Seattle went through a large construction boom in the late 1970s and 1980s, resulting in the construction of 15 of the city's 20 tallest buildings, including Columbia Center and the 1201 Third Avenue. Seattle entered into another high-rise construction boom in 2000, and has since seen the completion of two buildings that stand at least 500 feet (152 m) in height. Today, Seattle boasts 13 completed skyscrapers that rise at least 500 feet (152 m) in height, with one more under construction. Seattle's skyline is ranked first in the Northwestern United States, third on the West Coast (after Los Angeles and San Francisco) and eleventh in the United States.


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Dubai, UAE

The history of skyscrapers in Dubai began pretty recently with the construction of the 149-metre (489 ft) Dubai World Trade Centre in 1979, which is regarded to be the first skyscraper in the city. At the time of its completion, it also stood as the tallest building in the Middle East. Since 1999, and especially from 2005 onwards, Dubai had been on an extremely large skyscraper building boom, with all 63 buildings that stand taller than 200 metres (656 ft), which is more than any other city in the world, surpassing Hong Kong and New York City, and 125 buildings that stand taller than 150 metres. Also, Dubai has 17 highrises whose height exceed 300 metres (984 ft), which is more than any other city in the world. The largest and most famous building in Dubai is the Burj Khalifa, which is the tallest building, freestanding structure, and man-made structure of any kind ever built on the planet.


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Beijing, China

The history of skyscrapers in Beijing began in 1959 with the completion of the National Minority Hotel. Beijing's skyline gradually expanded upward at a modest rate for three decades. The completion of the China World Trade Center Tower 1 in 1989 marked the beginning of Beijing's first building boom that lasted ten years. During this time period, four skyscrapers taller than 150 m (492 ft) were completed, including the 208 m (682 ft) Jing Guang Center, which stood as the tallest building in Beijing from 1990–2006. A second, much larger boom began in 2004 and continues into the present, where twelve skyscrapers taller than 150 m (492 ft) were finished.


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Frankfurt, Germany

Frankfurt is one of the few European cities with a large cluster of high rise building in its downtown area; in many other European cities, skyscraper construction was not well received in the past due to the historical value of existing buildings. For this reason, Frankfurt is sometimes referred to as "Mainhattan" (a portmanteau of the local Main river and Manhattan), and Chicago am Main. Most of Frankfurt's downtown area was destroyed by Allied air bombardment during World War II, and only a small number of the city's landmarks were rebuilt. This left ample room for and little opposition against the construction of modern high-rises in the city. Frankfurt went through its first high-rise building boom in the 1970s; during this time, the city saw the construction of nine buildings over 110 metres (360 ft) tall. From 1984 until 1993, Frankfurt went through another building boom, during which time the city's second-tallest building, Messeturm, and the third-tallest building, Westend Tower, were completed. As of October 2011, there are 294 completed high-rises in the city.


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  1. I'm so happy I found your blog.. It is awesome

  2. santiago de chile is far more impressing than frankfurt......

  3. Chicago all day!!!

  4. Seattle in the money spot

  5. is there any way to get tihs pics in HD?
    i would like to have those in my desktop
    amazing pics by the way

  6. Ahh, Toronto! At night in the middle of summer. Tough to beat, however Hong Kong looks beautiful. Defenitly on my bucket list.

  7. ChiTown all day!!!!!!!

  8. There is no WAY that Santiago de Chile is better than Frankfurt.
    I wouldn't agree with that at ALL. It does have a beautiful skyline but it's not even close to Frankfurt.
    Frankfurt makes it all look natural.
    Bangkok probably isn't here because the cluster of buildings in there is usually really filthy and unkempt.
    They're located it heavily populated slums.
    When choosing top skylines of the world we have to look at the quality of life in the cities as well. And to be honest the cities mentioned have really high qualities of living.

  9. We can debate all we want, but in the heart of hearts it's Chicago and New York. Hong Kong gets an honourable mention for shear density. Great pictures, but the New York pics weren't very flattering. Looks like you took them from New Jersey, which goes to show that nothing good ever comes out of Jersey, even skyline photos of New York. Joking, much love to my Garden Staters.

  10. MAny other great buildings of other cities,like Manila,Mexico City,Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo,Santiago,Buenos Aires,Sidney,etc. were left out. But great pics for this list.


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