Figure: Skyscraper Locations 1890 to 1915.
The maps show the location of all skyscrapers (buildings 262 feet or taller) that were constructed during their first generation. Except for the tower of Madison Square (1890), all tall building were constructed in lower Manhattan before the 20th century. Then, suddenly, starting in 1902, there was a “jump” where skyscraper completions were evenly divided between downtown and midtown. The graphs strongly suggest that around the turn of the 20th century, there was a tipping point, where developers saw opportunities north of 14th Street that did not exist in the decade prior, despite the fact that nothing had changed in the neighborhood around Grand Central Station, which would not be rebuilt and completed until 1913. Source: Barr, Tassier and Trendafilov (2010).