Currently, the world’s tallest building is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. It stands at 2,722 feet or 829.8 meters, holding many other records as detailed in this blog post. Over the coming years, this record will be broken, as countries continue building towards the skies. It seems like the goal is to build higher and higher because that’s what’s actually happening. But what buildings throughout history held this prestigious title of “World’s Tallest Building?” The following are the world’s tallest buildings (and a few interesting tidbits about each one), ever since the concept of a skyscraper existed in 1884 until the Empire State Building took the title in 1931. Don’t worry. Next week's blog post will cover everything from 1931 until today.

Home Insurance Building

1884-1890 Home Insurance Building: Generally thought of as the world’s first skyscraper, this building stood at 138 feet or 42 meters until it was demolished in 1931. It was the first tall building to use structural steel in its frame and was 10 stories tall. Compare that to the current tallest building, which stands at 163 stories and you see how far we’ve come.

New York World Building

1890-1894 New York World Building: Standing over double the height of the previous record holder for world’s tallest building, this skyscraper was New York’s first and housed the George Browne Post. It stood at 308 feet or 94 meters tall, and was demolished in 1955

Manhattan Life Insurance Building

1894-1895 Manhattan Life Insurance Building: This was the first skyscraper to pass 100 meters in Manhattan. That being an accomplishment is crazy to think of, considering how many skyscrapers above that height exist today. It stood at 348 feet or 106 meters and was demolished in either 1963 or 1964, depending on what source you’re looking at.

Milwaukee City Hall

1895-1899 Milwaukee City Hall: The first building on this list that still stands today, Milwaukee City Hall is 353 feet or 108 meters tall. When built, it was the second tallest structure in the USA, behind the Washington Monument. It was Milwaukee’s tallest building until the First Wisconsin Center in 1973.

Park Row Building

1899-1901 Park Row Building: Known as 15 Park Row, this skyscraper was designated a landmark in 1999 by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. It stands at 390 feet or 119 meters (29 stories) tall, and is the first New York skyscraper on this list that still stands today.

Philadelphia City Hall

1901-1908 Philadelphia City Hall: Standing at 548 feet or 167 meters tall, this skyscraper was the tallest habitable building from 1894-1908. It was voted #21 on the American Institute of Architects’ list of Americans’ 150 favorite US structures. It remained the tallest building in Philadelphia until One Liberty Place was constructed in 1984.

Singer Building

1908-1909 Singer Building: Located in Manhattan, Singer Building, also known as Singer Tower was completed in 1908 and stood for 60 years. When demolished, it was the tallest building ever to be demolished. It is currently the third tallest building ever to be destroyed.

Met Life Tower

1909-1913 Metropolitan Life Tower: Known as the Met Life Tower, this skyscraper is located on Madison Avenue in Manhattan and stands at 700 feet or 213 meters tall. It is 50 stories tall. It has been seen in pop culture, including the animated series, Futurama and the video game, Bioshock Infinite.

Woolworth Building

1913-1930 Woolworth Building: Costing $13.5 million to construct, the Woolworth Building stood at 792 feet or 241 meters tall. It remains one of the one hundred tallest buildings in the USA and one of the thirty tallest buildings in New York City. It can be seen in movies, TV shows, and video games such as Enchanted, Cloverfield, Ugly Betty, Grand Theft Auto IV, The Great Gatsby, and in the upcoming film Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them.

1930 Bank of Manhattan Trust Building: Also known as The Trump Building, the Bank of Manhattan Trust Building stands at 927 feet or 283 meters tall, eclipsing 70 stories. It is located in New York City, at 40 Wall Street. It was constructed in just 11 months.

Chrysler Building

1930-1931 Chrysler Building: The Chrysler Building is the first to eclipse 1000 feet. It only held the prestigious honor of being the world’s tallest building for 11 months, before it was surpassed by the Empire State Building. It is considered by many to be one of the finest buildings in New York City. It was ranked 9th on the list of America’s Favorite Architecture.

Eleven different buildings held the title of world’s tallest building over the course of 47 years. On average, that’s a new record holder a little over every 4 years. From 1931 until today (85 years), there have been only 6 buildings to hold that title. That might say something about the difficulty of building higher and higher, once 1000 feet was reached. The years 1931-2016 and beyond will be covered next week. Check it out, as the buildings in that list are some of the most prominent and famous buildings on the planet.


Barak Bacharach, SkySaver Content Manager