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10 Amazingly Fun Facts about Skyscrapers!

At Thackray Crane Rental, Inc. we are excited about our part in the construction of the highly-anticipated Comcast Innovation and Technology Center in Center City Philadelphia. This 59-story technological marvel is slated to be finished in 2017, and will boast 2 new restaurants, one on the top floor with amazing 360-degree views of Philly, a ground-floor concourse with easy access to SEPTA’s Suburban Station, 45 floors of rentable office space, and the new location of the Four Seasons Philadelphia Hotel, which will have 200+ rooms, event and meeting spaces, a spa and fitness facilities. The state-of-the-art engineering that goes into such a skyscraper got us even more curious about the extra tall buildings we help construct. So, as a result of that curiosity, and late-night Googling, here are the top 10 fun facts we discovered about skyscrapers:

  1. Where did that word come from?? We’ve always given props to the person who came up with the word “skyscraper,” it’s so obvious, yet so perfect. The buildings literally appear to scrape the sky with their spires and can easily inspire awe among admirers, both young and old. But the word has origins in something completely unrelated – ships. “Skyscraper” got its start as the nautical term for a small triangular sail set above the skysail.
  2. Thackray Crane Rental - Eiffel Tower

  3. Proving points at the World’s Fair, more than 125 years ago! While not technically called a skyscraper, the Eiffel Tower was the world’s tallest building in 1889. The tower was built for the World’s Fair to prove that iron could be as strong as stone, even though it is considerably lighter. Bonus Fact: Every seven years, the tower is repainted with 50 tons of dark brown paint.
  4. The one that started it all…The Home Insurance Building, which was demolished in 1931, is still known as “the father of the skyscraper.” Built in 1885 in Chicago, it was 138 feet tall with 10 stories and was the first building to use steel beams and columns for support so that it could have more windows. But the new method wasn’t free of controversy, the city halted the building’s construction to investigate the safety of the structure because so many people worried about its stability.
  5. A lightning rod! The Empire State Building was purposely designed as a lightning rod and, as such, is struck by lightning around 100 times every year! Bonus Facts: The Empire State Building holds records for being the first building to have more than 100 floors and, at only 410 days to build, the fastest construction of a building, when considering its height and the technology available during that time period.
  6. A possible catastrophe kept secret…During the 1970s construction of the Citicorp Center in New York, workers bolted the building’s joints instead of welding them as originally specified. This wasn’t discovered until a year after the building’s completion, when the chief engineer, preparing for the encroaching hurricane season, discovered the change and the bolts’ inability to withstand hurricane-force winds. A team of workers was immediately dispatched to weld two-inch-thick steel plates over the 200 bolted joints. Halfway through the repair process, the city of New York, and the Citicorp Center, experienced a near miss, as Hurricane Ella veered out to sea a mere hours before the city would have had to evacuate. This close catastrophe was kept hidden from the public for nearly 20 years!
  7. A race! In 1929, Walter Chrysler and the Bank of Manhattan Trust Company took part in a race to build the world’s tallest skyscraper. The Chrysler Building won the intense race at the very last moment, when workers raised its spire, which was hidden inside the building, through the roof. Unfortunately, the celebration was cut a little short when, just 4 months later, the Empire State Building claimed the title. But kudos are still deserved for the Chrysler Building: at the height of its construction, floors were being completed at an incredible rate of four per week, without a single fatality!
  8. Thackray Crane Rental - John Hancock Center

  9. Construction marvel or marketing genius? Oh, Chicago – the Windy City. We can only imagine the extra considerations necessary to build a skyscraper that can withstand those winds. As their solution to the issue, engineers for the John Hancock Center included five enormous diagonal braces on the building’s exterior walls that unfortunately block the view from two windows on every floor. That wouldn’t stop a local rental agent though, he marketed those sightless windows as a status symbol and charges a premium to rent the affected rooms!
  10. Oh, the view! On a clear day, visitors to the top of Chicago’s Sears Tower can see four states at once: Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. Impressive, at the very least! But what’s more: to ensure the clearest view possible, the building mounted six robotic window-washing machines to its roof. Now that’s dedication to cleanliness.
  11. And the reward for most original name! Okay, so the Taipei 101, located in Taipei and boasting an incredible 101 stories, isn’t exactly creative in the name department, but it was ranked as the world’s tallest building when it was completed in 2003. It lost that title in 2010, but became the world’s tallest, and largest, green building in 2011, when it was awarded the LEED platinum certification.
  12. Beat that! The Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, took the title of world’s tallest building from the Taipei 101 in 2010. At 2,716 feet and 160 stories, it features the fastest elevators in the world, over 20 acres of glass, and is also the world’s tallest manmade structure. Just, Wow.
  13. Thackray Crane Rental - Burj Khalifa

We could go on and on about skyscrapers, but there’s work to be done. As a leading crane rental company in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware, we have to do our part towards creating the next best skyscrapers, which will hopefully generate their own list of fun facts! Call us today at 1-844-99-CRANE, if you also play a part in this amazing process and are in need of crane and equipment rentals, warehouse and storage solutions, or trucking and logistics help.