• Index of Past Exhibitions, Listed Chronologically

    Sky Marks Landmarks

    May 10, 2023 – February 11, 2024

    What is a New York City Landmark? A building, interior, or scenic area, or a contributing building within a Historic District, that has been determined by the city agency – the Landmarks Preservation Commission – to be worthy of protection and regulation into the future. This exhibition highlights the skyscrapers in New York City that have been designated as Individual Landmarks.

    Residential Rising

    July 1, 2022 – April 30, 2023

    Beyond the boundaries of Ground Zero, the most significant change in the lower Manhattan skyline since 9/11 has been the new growth of residential skyscrapers. The southern tip of the island has sprouted a bevy of conspicuous, competitive, and highly individualistic towers.

    Supertall! 2020

    July 1, 2021 – June 1, 2022

    How tall is Supertall? The Skyscraper Museum sets its benchmark high: 1,250 feet/ 380 meters, the height of the 1931 Empire State Building. Despite an upsurge in Supertalls during the last decade, towers this tall remain exceptional: our survey counts 58.

    SUPERTALL! 2020 highlights a dozen of the most extraordinary recent towers, exploring ideas about formal and structural innovation and the place of a signature skyscraper in a master-planned, mixed-use complex that creates community and value both on the ground and in the sky.

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    Housing Density

    From Tenements to Towers
    May 19, 2019 – March 16, 2020
    HOUSING DENSITY examines the history of density in New York City from tenements to “towers in the park” through the lens of density and its different definitions. What is density? Does the word describe a condition of people or place? Is it people crowded together? Buildings too tightly spaced, or too tall? The exhibition emphasizes understanding density as a step to meaningful dialogue about the future of the city.
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    July 18, 2018 – May 13, 2019
    SKYLINE examined the emergence of the collective image of the skyline as the brand identity of New York and distinguished five periods in which new buildings grow and take characteristic forms based on economic, technological, and regulatory factors.


    Lower Manhattan in the 1990s
    October 1, 2017 – June 24, 2018
    MILLENNIUM revisits this recent history of lower Manhattan in the years just before Downtown’s identity was cataclysmically recast as Ground Zero, and a new era truly began.

    Ten & Taller: 1874 – 1900

    Mapping all Manhattan buildings ten stories or taller by use and date
    September 30, 2016 – September 10, 2017
    TEN & TALLER illustrates every building erected in Manhattan that was ten stories or taller from 1874 through 1900 – a total of 252 structures – and locates them on a historic land map, as well as on a timeline that also represents their height and use.

    Garden City | Mega City

    March 23, 2016 – September 18, 2016
    The exhibition features the work of WOHA, the Singapore architects whose tropical towers, enveloped by nature, create vertical villages with sky gardens, breeze-ways, and elevated parks.

    Ten Tops

    March 15, 2015 – March 15, 2016

    Distinctive tops that add extra height to high-rises have been characteristic of New York skyscrapers from the first tall office buildings in the 1870s. The word skyscraper, after all, evokes both aerial height and a slender silhouette. The romance of Manhattan’s towers has been the inspiration and touchstone for a worldwide surge of signature tops.

    TEN TOPS focuses on a group of the world’s tallest buildings: 100 stories and higher. TEN TOPS peers into their uppermost floors and analyzes the architectural features they share, including observation decks, luxury hotels and restaurants, distinctive crowns and night illumination, as well as the engineering and construction challenges of erecting such complex and astonishing structures.

    Times Square, 1984

    The Postmodern Moment
    July 1, 2014 – February 15, 2015

    Times Square today is bright and crowded – a tourist mecca, entertainment district, retail powerhouse, and pedestrianized precinct that matches in vitality, both economic and populist, any decade of its storied past. But thirty years ago, the future of Times Square was in limbo – caught between a series of false starts at clean-slate urban renewal by the City and State and an emerging philosophy of urbanism that favored history, preservationist values, electric signs and semiotics, and delirious diversity.

    SKY HIGH & the logic of luxury

    October 9, 2013 – June 15, 2014
    SKY HIGH examines the recent proliferation of super-slim, ultra-luxury residential towers on the rise in Manhattan. These pencil-thin buildings-all 50 to 90+ stories-constitute a new type of skyscraper in a city where tall, slender structures have a long history.

    The Woolworth Building @ 100

    February 27, 2013 – September 22, 2013

    Eighty thousand incandescent bulbs illuminated the New York night on April 24, 1913, when the Woolworth Building opened with a ceremony attended by 800 dignitaries. Witnessed by multitudes and wired to press around the world, the brilliant spectacle was a career-crowning achievement for the tower’s owner, the five-and-dime store king Frank W. Woolworth, who paid for the skyscraper with his personal fortune and took a hands-on role in every decision of its design. The great Gothic tower-the Cathedral of Commerce-became the preeminent silhouette on the New York skyline and took the title of world’s tallest office building.

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    Urban Fabric: Building New York’s Garment District

    July 25, 2012 – February 15, 2013

    The largest concentration of skyscraper factories in the world, the 18 blocks that were the heart of New York’s Garment District, once supported more than 100,000 manufacturing jobs and produced nearly 3/4 of all women’s and children’s apparel in the United States. The rapid development of the district–the area of west midtown from 35th to 41st Streets and from Seventh to Ninth Avenues–occurred almost entirely within the boom decade of the 1920s, when more than 125 stepped-back “loft” buildings took the pyramidal forms dictated by the city’s new zoning law.

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    News PAPER Spires

    February 29, 2012 – July 15, 2012

    The first chapters in New York’s high-rise history were written in the 1870s through the early 1900s when the city’s great newspapers –the Times, Tribune, and World, among others– erected tall towers as signature headquarters. “Newspaper Row” on the east side of City Hall Park was center stage for their architectural competition and a concentrated hub of production, transforming news into newspapers. These early skyscrapers were both ostentatious advertisements of the papers’ self-proclaimed supremacy and vertical factories where on high floors, editors approved stories and compositors set type, while in the cellar and basement, steam engines or dynamos powered thundering presses that night and day rolled out tens of thousands of papers per hour.


    July 27, 2011 – February 19, 2012

    SUPERTALL! is an international survey of superlative towers featuring projects that have been completed since 2001, are under construction, or are expected to top out by 2016. This recent generation of giants, generally 100 stories or higher, represents a new paradigm of slender mixed-use towers that explore innovative approaches in engineering, curtain-wall and construction technologies, energy efficiency and sustainability, and concepts of vertical communities.

    To distinguish the rarified air of the super- from the merely very tall, the Museum made the benchmark 380 meters/ 1,250 feet-the height of the Empire State Building-rather than the common standard of 300 meters. Worldwide, 48 projects measure up, including six towers of 600 meters or taller, six of 500+ meters, and twenty-four exceeding 400 meters. The world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, rises 828 meters/ 2,717 feet above the sands of Dubai. It will hold the record for at least five years- the typical time it takes to construct a supertall.

    Vertical Urban Factory

    January 12, 2011 – July 7, 2011

    Vertical Urban Factory features the innovative architectural design, structural engineering, and processing methods of significant factory buildings from the turn of the 20th century to the present. Now, over a century after the first large factories began to dominate our cities, the exhibition poses the question: Can factories present sustainable solutions for future self-sufficient cities?

    The Rise of Wall Street

    April 21, 2010 – January 2, 2011

    From colonial times, when the first bastions were erected to mark the edge of town, Wall Street has been continuously transformed, both in function—from commercial and residential to financial—as well as in scale. Row houses were replaced by low-rise banks, then massive high-rise office buildings. The skyscrapers that line Wall Street today represent the climax species of an intense urban process that the exhibit documents with graphics of successive buildings on a given site since 1850. These “Vertical Wall Street” images dramatically illustrate the cycles of growth that shaped the financial district over time, charting both the evolution from small to tall and the growing girth of buildings enabled by new technologies and slow, but savvy site assembly.

    China Prophecy: Shanghai

    June 24, 2009 – April 11, 2010

    Shanghai today is a vast metropolis of 18 million residents—the largest city in the world’s most populous nation. In just three decades, its population has nearly doubled, and the city has been physically transformed by the twin emblems of modernity—high-rises and highways. Formerly a horizontal expanse of dense and sprawling lilong neighborhoods, Shanghai has grown vertically. Nearly 400 high-rises of twenty stories or more were built in the historic core, Puxi, since 1990, and colossal elevated roads fly over old neighborhoods. In the new business district of Pudong on the east side of the river, a master plan dictates taller towers rising from open green space, culminating in a pair—soon to be a trio—of the world’s ten tallest skyscrapers. This is the third exhibition in the FUTURE CITY 20|21 cycle.

    Vertical Cities: Hong Kong | New York

    July 1, 2008 – June 30, 2009

    Hong Kong, Asia’s Manhattan, is today an island of skyscrapers. Born of its deep-water harbor and constrained by its limited land and steep hillsides, the city expanded upward beginning in the 1970s, even surpassing the number of high-rises in New York in recent years. Driven by similar forces, the vertical development of Hong Kong and New York is compared in this exhibition through photography, film, architectural studies, and an analysis of the demographics and densities of the world’s most dramatic skyscraper societies. This was the second exhibition in the FUTURE CITY 20|21 cycle.

    New York Modern

    October 1, 2007 – June 30, 2008

    As part of the FUTURE CITY 20|21 cycle of three exhibitions, NEW YORK MODERN looked back at prophecies of the skyscraper city in the early 20th century when the first dreams of a fantastic vertical metropolis took shape. From the invention of the tall office building and high-rise hotels in the late 19th century, New York began to expand upward, and by 1900, the idea of unbridled growth and inevitably increasing congestion was lampooned in cartoons in the popular press and critiqued by prominent architects and urban reformers.

    World’s Tallest Building: Burj Dubai

    April 25, 2007 – October 14, 2007
    The ambition to erect the world’s tallest building is as old as the ages, and like the pyramids or gothic cathedrals, Burj Dubai is an epoch-defining tower and an architectural and engineering marvel that tackles unprecedented challenges of design and construction. The slender supertall represents the collective effort of ninety designers in the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP and a team of consulting companies. The exhibition placed Burj Dubai in both the historical context of the competition for the world’s tallest building and in the contemporary arena of Dubai’s explosive growth.

    Giants: Twin Towers and the Twentieth Century

    September 8, 2006 – April 15, 2007
    “GIANTS: The Twin Towers & the Twentieth Century,” commemorates the original World Trade Center, viewing its creation in the context of the technological ambitions of the 1960s and the hundred-year evolution of New York’s skyline.On their completion in 1971 and 1973, the Twin Towers were both the tallest and the largest skyscrapers in the world. Innovative engineering carried the structures to 110 stories, at 1362 and 1368 feet, and floors of nearly an acre multiplied the space of each tower into more than 4 million square feet. The scale of these giants has been exceeded only once in history, by the contemporary Sears Tower in 1974. By comparison, the Freedom Tower, the largest building planned for Ground Zero, will contain only 2.6 million square feet, about two-thirds of their volume.

    Green Towers for New York

    January 25, 2006 – May 30, 2006

    An exhibition that surveyed a new generation of skyscrapers recently completed or under construction in New York City that embraced sustainability and green building strategies as a central tenet of their design. Ranging from high-profile corporate headquarters to speculative office towers, and from “green” apartment blocks to mixed-use and institutional projects, these buildings represented a leading-edge of energy efficiency and environmental responsibility for high rise architecture in the U.S. today.

    The Original Yamasaki World Trade Center

    January 1, 2006 – June 30, 2006

    Just six blocks south of Ground Zero, The Skyscraper Museum opened an exhibition on the World Trade Center that featured the original model created for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey by the architect Minoru Yamasaki.


    August 31, 2005 – January 22, 2006

    What are your Top Ten favorite New York skyscrapers? That question was posed in a Skyscraper Museum survey completed by an invited list of 100 knowledgeable New Yorkers and building industry professionals, including architects and engineers, developers, brokers, builders, historians, and critics. The results were seen in this exhibition.

    City of Change

    January 1, 2005 – August 1, 2005

    City of Change explored the role of the skyscraper in shaping the identity and character of downtown’s streets and skyline. Linking past, present, and future, the exhibit examined the construction of the World Trade Center and the rebuilding at Ground Zero and highlighted the new construction and residential conversions underway throughout the district.

    Frank Lloyd Wright: The Vertical Dimension

    October 6, 2004 – January 9, 2005

    The first comprehensive examination of the high-rise designs of America’s foremost architect examined Wright’s abiding interest in the re-invention of the tall building. Over the course of his long career, Wright designed a dozen high-rise buildings of which only two were built–the Johnson Research Tower in Racine, Wisconsin (1944), and the Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma (1952-56). With these designs, Wright proposed a new structure for the skyscraper, challenged prevailing building practices with his use of materials, and proposed new directions in high-rise living.

    The Viewing Wall at Ground Zero

    September 10, 2002 – December 31, 2003
    On September 10, 2002, the first phase of the Viewing Wall at Ground Zero was inaugurated by Governor George Pataki and other dignitaries at ceremonies commemorating the anniversary of 9/11. The simple design of the wall, a screen-like grid of galvanized steel, allowed visitors to see into the Trade Center site and also carried a series of large fiberglass panels that feature information on the buildings and rebuilding, as well as history panels. Special alcoves of recessed bays contain panels with all the names of the victims of September 11, 2001.

    The Skyscraper Museum collaborated with the Port Authority, the design firm Pentagram, and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) to provide the history panels for the Viewing Wall. The Museum provided the images and captions that allow visitors to better understand the context of the construction of the Twin Towers and the urban history of the Trade Center site.

    The second phase of the Viewing Wall was completed in September 2003. The Liberty Street side of the site has 17 history panels that picture the evolution of lower Manhattan from colonial times through the Twin Towers in a series of maps, skyline views, historic photographs, and postcards.

    WTC: Monument

    February 5, 2002 – May 2, 2002

    The following site is a tribute to the Twin Towers, examining the history of the complex in its conception, design, and construction from the 1960s through the mid-1970s — and their destruction on the morning of 9/11.

    Design Development: Times Square

    January 1, 2001 – September 11, 2001

    Inspired by the popularity of the museum’s 2000 spring lecture series, Times Square Now, the installation explored the interactions of design and development by showing the evolution of the building form through multiple study models

    Building the Empire State

    October 1, 1998 – August 1, 1999

    Building the Empire State examined the design and construction of New York’s signature skyscraper, drawing together photographs and film of the construction, architectural and engineering drawings, contracts, builders’ records, financial reports, and other artifacts.

    Downtown New York

    April 1, 1997 – December 31, 1997

    On May 1, 1997, The Skyscraper Museum opened a major exhibition on the architecture and urbanism of Lower Manhattan in donated space, a vacant banking hall at 44 Wall Street, a 1926 skyscraper in the heart of New York’s financial district.