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Skyscrapers in Chicago - Essay Example

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According to Think Quest Library, a skyscraper is a "multi-storied building constructed on steel skeleton, combining extraordinary height with ordinary rooms such as would be found in low buildings, the term originated in the United States in the later 1880s after buildings in New York reached ten stories a skyscraper". These are very tall habitable building which stands out clearly above its surrounding built environment and significantly changes the overall skyline of this particular city. [2]
Originally buildings were made with a broader base to support the entire building. As time progressed and technologies evolved higher and thinner buildings started to become more practical. The crucial developments for modern skyscrapers were steel, glass, reinforced concrete, water pumps, and elevators. Steel and reinforced concrete allowed higher buildings to be built on a small patch of land. The water pumps were essential to pump water up to higher levels for the use of constructions and as well as utility. Primitive elevators of various designs had been used for centuries, and starting in the mid 19th century, steam-operated elevators were used to move materials in factories, mines, and warehouses. But these elevators were not considered safe for people; if the cable broke, they would plummet to the bottom of the elevator shaft. Then in 1853, an American inventor named Elisha Graves Otis developed a safety device that kept elevators from falling if a cable should break. This new development had an enormous impact on public confidence. And later in the century, the switch to an electric motor made the elevator a practical solution to the problem of getting up and down tall buildings. [1] [5]

The Great Fire - The Primary Reason
The Great Fire of Chicago is named as one of the worst tragedies to hit the city and even more importantly it is remembered for the role it played in the rebuilding. The devastation occurred on October 8, 1871. The damage figures appalled the whole city. Nearly 300 persons had died while around 18,000 buildings were destroyed. This made about 100,000 people (one-third of the city) were homeless with a property valued at $200,000,000 (about a third of the valuation of the city) destroyed. The situation was looking very bleak. However histories telling the tales of dangers and grief shared and overcome gave heart to the people. And mysteriously in cases like these the worst of times can bring out the best in people anywhere. [1] [3]

After the fire devastated Chicago in 1871 building regulations were changed to allow multistory structures. Reconstruction was started almost immediately. Development committees were formed and plans for rebuilding were made even before the fire was out. [1] [3]


By October 1872, new buildings worth nearly $50 million had been erected. Between 1872 and 1879 more than ten thousand construction permits were issued. Between 1871 and 1891 some $316,220,000 was poured into the construction of new buildings. Chicago, instead to recovering slowly from the tragedy, started to experience explosive growth, and it ...Show more
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Big buildings have always been an attractive thing for the rich to show off their power and wealth. Great structures and monuments have been built to honor leaders or religious beliefs. Egyptian pyramids, Taj Mahal in India, the skinny towers stretching towards the sky in Italian hill towns, and the gothic cathedrals of France have all been influenced by great men of power and wealth…
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