Skyscrapers would seem to command enough attention by their sheer height and grandeur without needing a special day to highlight them. Nevertheless, Thursday, Sept. 3, is Skyscraper Day, and in celebration of the day, here are 10 facts about and photos of skyscrapers, their history and the quest to build the tallest building in the world.
1. Sept. 3 was chosen for the holiday because it was the birthday of architect Louis H. Sullivan, who has been called the "father of skyscrapers" and was widely considered to have designed the first ones.
2. No official qualifications for or definition of the word "skyscraper" appear to exist. Merriam-Webster simply describes it as "a very tall building in a city."
3. The world's first skyscraper is generally considered to be the Home Insurance Building in Chicago. It was built in 1885 and was 10 stories tall -- an impressive height back then -- and stood out as well for having a frame of metal, rather than being built primarily from stone. An addition in 1890 later gave another two stories to the Home Insurance Building.
4. Skyscrapers are visually impressive, but they also can be economical in large cities, where real estate is expensive. By going up rather than out, they create a high ratio of space to actual ground area.
5. The tallest building in the world is the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, at 2,717 feet and 163 floors. It was built in 2010. The Shanghai Tower takes second place at 2,073 feet. The tallest building in the United States and fourth-highest in the world is One World Trade Center -- also known as the Freedom Tower -- in New York City. It stands 1,776 feet tall.
6. There are many reasons architects and builders continue pushing skywards in the competition to be the tallest. Some speculate that it's because the sky is viewed as the last frontier for these designers.
7. Can skyscrapers predict economic crises? Some insist they can. The "skyscraper curse," as the theory is dubbed, has tried to show that shortly before major recessions and financial panics come the unveiling of notable buildings and towers. A recent article in the Economist, however, said that there's too little solid data to draw any conclusions about this phenomenon.
8. Here's a picture of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa.
9. This is the Empire State Building, which for decades held the title of World's Tallest Building:
10. The fourth-tallest freestanding structure in the world is the Mecca Royal Clock Tower, in Saudi Arabia: