A Skyline Princess cruise along New York Harbor features many world-famous landmarks, including many historic skyscrapers. While New York City no longer holds the record for the world’s tallest building, the history of the skyscraper is strongly linked to the city.
Throughout history, people have been building as tall as their technology and engineering capabilities allowed. Structures like the Great Pyramid of Giza in ancient Egypt, the Lincoln Cathedral, and even an apartment building in ancient Rome that were 10 stories tall are a few examples. The oldest iron-framed building is the Ditherington Flax Mill in Shrewsbury, England, which was completed in 1797.
Emerging Skyscraper Technology
Skyscrapers as we know them began in the 19th century as technology converged to enable larger buildings. Masonry buildings, like the Philadelphia City Hall, which still holds the record for tallest load-bearing building, required extremely thick walls at the base – up to 22 feet in some cases! – to support the weight of its height.
The pre-cursors to modern skyscrapers became possible due to steel, water, electricity, and elevators. Metal framing enabled buildings that supported structural weight with thinner walls. As taller buildings became possible, foundations had to change, with construction digging down to the bedrock for a solid base, though water-tight caissons later substituted. Taller buildings also required elevators for practical use.
Plumbing innovations were needed to deliver water to higher floors. Similarly, gas lighting was difficult at higher floors but the advent of electricity solved that while lowering the risk of fire from candles and lanterns.
The Race to the Top
The first steel skyscraper was the Home Insurance Building in Chicago, built in 1885. It wasn’t long before cities like New York and Chicago began competing for the record for world’s tallest building, with New York’s American Surety Building being the first proper skyscraper in New York starting in 1895.
Several New York City buildings held the record for world’s tallest skyscraper thereafter, including the Singer Building in 1908, the Metropolitan Life Tower in 1909, the Woolworth Building in 1913, briefly the Bank of Manhattan Trust Building (for a few months), the Chrysler Building in 1930, the Empire State Building in 1931, and One World Trade Center starting in 1971. Chicago took the title with the Sears Tower (now called the Willis Tower) in 1974 with overseas buildings taking over there after, including Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers in 1996, Taipei’s Taipei 101 in 2004, and today’s current champion, Burj Khalifa in Dubai since 2010.
Most of the seven NYC skyscrapers that have held the record are visible from the Skyline Princess during its NY Harbor lunch and dinner cruises.
- The Woolworth Building is the oldest of the group.
- The Chrysler Building was the first to be officially called “The World’s Tallest Building.” It didn’t hold that title for long, though.
- The Empire State Building soon became the world’s tallest, and its legendary status was cemented with its many appearances in movies from King Kong to Sleepless in Seattle and beyond.
Today, the top of the building lights up in vivid colors to commemorate various events. Passengers aboard the Skyline Princess can easily see the building and its varying light scheme while sailing.
- The original One World Trade Center took the record from the Empire State Building. Its replacement, also called One World Trade Center or the Freedom Tower, is taller than its predecessor by 424 feet. One World Trade Center, which is visible during Skyline Princess’ NY Harbor cruises, holds the record for the tallest building in the Western hemisphere. The 160-story Burj Khalifa in Dubai currently holds the world record.
Whether you’re a visitor to New York or a lifelong NYC resident, sailing through New York Harbor aboard the Skyline Princess is an ideal way to see many of the area’s iconic landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty, South Street Seaport, and Ellis Island.
Skyline Cruises Will Make Your Event Truly Memorable
We promise memorable sights on your Skyline cruise. For a fabulous experience you’ll brag about over and over, and choose Skyline Cruises. We cruise year all year long in our fully climate controlled cabin and enclosed rooftop deck. To learn more about the various cruises we offer or to book your tickets, contact us today.