The Skyscraper Museum
The Skyscraper Museum

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.


Opening July 5, 2018

A skyline is a horizon interrupted by verticals. Seen from a distance, a city’s tall buildings make a collective, coherent image – a silhouette against the sky that creates an identity. Throughout history, cities have been distinguished by their prominent structures: Florence by the Duomo, Rome by St. Peter’s, Paris by the Eiffel Tower. New York is defined by its multiplicity of skyscrapers.

Manhattan grew a skyline before writers found a word for it. The earliest skyscrapers, office buildings of ten stories, rose near City Hall Park in 1874, but it was not until two decades later that a burst of towers of twenty stories, 300 feet or taller, truly transformed the city’s image. Located especially along the spine of Broadway from the Battery to Chambers Street, they limned a profile visible from both rivers. One critic opined in 1897: "it is in aggregation that the immense impressiveness lies. It is not an architectural vision, but it does, most tremendously, look like business!"

There are millions of Manhattan skylines – viewed across time, from myriad vantages, by countless observers. This exhibition attempts, for the first time, to simplify and organize New York’s nearly 150 years of skyline development into five significant periods in which buildings take characteristic forms shaped by economic, technological, and regulatory factors. Today’s city is a collage of multiple eras, built and rebuilt over decades. Understanding the constituent factors of the five formative periods allow us to read urban history in the glorious jumble.

The overarching story of Manhattan’s high-rise growth is an evolution from small to tall, then taller. Cycles of boom and bust created the crowded clusters of Downtown and Midtown and today energize new geographies such as Hudson Yards and the new typology of super-slender towers. Ever-rising, New York’s skyline continues delineating its verticality.




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The exhibitions and programs of The Skyscraper Museum are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

The exhibitions and programs of The Skyscraper Museum are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.