NYC has the world’s second highest concentration of tall towers

February 1, 2018

Image: Michael Vadon via Flickr

In 1962, nine of the world’s tallest buildings were south of 59th Street in Manhattan–and things hadn’t changed much by 1981 when five of the tallest towers were concentrated on the same tiny island, which, with Chicago’s three, gave the U.S. nine of the world’s top 10 tallest skyscrapers. If you added Toronto’s entry that made 10. Today, the only U.S. entry the top ten is lower Manhattan’s One World Trade Center. This same tiny island though, is still number two in the world when it comes to concentration of tall towers.

tallest buildings, skyscrapers, skyscraper center, newgeography
Image via Newgeography

So where are all the supertalls today? Visualizing a summary of where the world’s tall towers–at least 150 meters/492 feet–are concentrated (with some help from the data sculptors at Newgeography with information from the Skyscraper Center) we find East Asia leading as home to seven of the top 10 municipalities claiming the tallest buildings, which also adds up to 18 of the world’s top 25.

New York led the world in skyscrapers for at least a century since the rise of the New York World building in 1890, resulting in the iconic skyline that anyone in the world can likely conjure to mind upon demand. All of those towers were clustered in lower Manhattan.

Upon the completion of the 482 meter (1,483 foot) twin Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) in 1998, the quarter-century reign of the 442 meter/ 1,451 foot Willis (Sears) Tower in Chicago was over.

hong kong, worlds tallest towers, supertalls, skyscrapers

Image via Newgeography

Hong Kong now holds the number one spot (unsurprising fact about concentration: small islands have a competitive edge) tallying its total at 317 to New York’s 257, though it has only one entry in the top 10 tallest, the International Commerce Center.

New York takes second place. The tallest building in the U.S., One World Trade Center, is the 6th tallest building in the world. But it will lose its spot in the top 10 in the early 2020s when buildings now under construction nudge past its 541 meters/1,776 feet. For the first time in skyscraper history, the United States won’t have an entry in the top 10. The rest of the world’s tallest buildings are now concentrated in–in descending order–Dubai, Tokyo, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chicago, Chongqing, Guangzhou and Singapore.

And the future of the world’s skyline–at least for the next few decades? Of 25 tallest buildings currently under construction, the Jeddah Tower, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia will be the tallest in the world at 1,000 meters, 170 meters higher than Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. Two of the 25 will be in New York, and two will rise in Russia in St. Petersburg and Grozny in Chechnya.


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