Figure: The Evolution of Skyscraper Design, 1870 to 2016
In the 1870s, building height was limited to nine or ten stories. Styles of the day tended to be heavy on ornamentation and have masonry or cast iron facades. The Tower Building, completed in 1889, was the city’s first “skyscraper,” in that it partly used iron-skeletal construction. The first generation of skyscrapers generally had a tripartite style of base, shaft and capital. After 1916, buildings tended to use the set-back style to be in conformity with the 1916 zoning regulations. The use of glass facades began in earnest in the 1950s. The 1960s zoning regulations encouraged the glass box, tower-in-the-park style. By the 1980s, architects were experimenting with more playful forms. The 1990s also saw a return to Art Deco-like styles popular in the 1920s. Today, a new form of skyscraper has emerged, the super-tall super-slims, which can rise higher than 1,000 feet.