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. 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. 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. 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 a new typology of supertall, slender towers. Ever-rising, New York’s skyline continues delineating its verticality.
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