The Skyscraper Museum is devoted to the study of high-rise building, past, present, and future. The Museum explores tall buildings as objects of design, products of technology, sites of construction, investments in real estate, and places of work and residence. This site will look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.


tribune case

Completed in 1875, the Tribune Building was one of three contemporary tall office buildings-the others were the Equitable and Western Union buildings-that historians have called New York's first skyscrapers. At 9 to 11 stories, three were conspicuous on the lower Manhattan skyline, and the Tribune was the tallest by virtue of its 260-foot tall clock tower.

In the early 1870s, these three were also the first office buildings in the city to use elevators, even though passenger lifts had been introduced into hotels and dry goods stores in the late 1850s. Elevators made renting office space higher than five or six stories possible. The Tribune's two elevators were powered by steam and illuminated by gaslight chandeliers.

The Tribune Building was an all-masonry structure with massive foundations and thick load-bearing walls. The foundations of brick and Portland cement that were 6'8" thick, and the brick walls that ran the full height of the building tapered from 5'2" at the bottom to 2'4" at the top. Wrought iron floor beams supported terra-cotta hollow-tile floors that were promoted as fireproof-a key consideration throughout the building. The presses and paper stock were in the basement level, and the elaborate counting room, or business office, seen in the stereoscope view was on the first floor, entered from Spruce Street.


Established in 1841 by Horace Greeley, the Tribune was the country's most respected and influential political paper and had the largest circulation in the nation for its weekly edition. Greeley's successor in 1872 was Whitelaw Reid, whose major project besides editing the paper was overseeing the development of the Tribune Building as the most technologically advanced newspaper operation of the time. The Tribune occupied the eighth and ninth floors, with Reid's office in the tower portion of the eighth floor and the composing room on the ninth. The remainieng floors were rented to tenants.