Research Resources

Our website offers access to the Museum's collections and research projects through a wide range of online archives, interactive maps, and charts, photographs, and graphics that allow both time travel and explorations of skyscrapers both local and global. Students and amateurs alike can explore our archives of digitized documents, historic

photographs, and more through innovative graphic interfaces in a wide range of projects.

We’ve collected a lot of online projects over the years! Start with our exhibition HISTORY OF HEIGHT and then keep looking for more interactive exhibits and web projects from over the last 2 decades.

This interactive project presents illustrated episodes in the history of height from the pyramids to the present, highlighting themes and buildings that relate to the evolution of the skyscraper and point the way to 21st-century supertalls. It examines several themes: the ambition to build tall; the technological advances and engineering innovations that enabled that desire; the economics that drove commercial development; the influence of outstanding architectural designs, and the codes and regulations that shaped buildings and skylines.

By clicking on a "flash card," viewers can expand a box to enlarge the image and read detailed histories. Taken together, the project is a precis for a textbook not yet written, The History of Height.

TEN & TALLER, an exhibition mounted in our gallery in 2016, included and illustrated every building erected in Manhattan that was ten stories or taller from 1874 through 1900 – a total of 252 structures! In addition to the installation, the exhibit developed three interactive digital projects that allow people to see all the buildings both individually and in a historical context. These were a MAP, a TIMELINE, and a GRID. All of the interfaces allow viewers to click on a building to view images and construction data on individual buildings. 

The MAP locates the footprints of the buildings, color-coded by use, on a historic land map that zooms and drags so a viewer can examine individual blocks and lots and click on a footprint to view details.

The interactive GRID presents the survey of 252 buildings erected in Manhattan between 1874 and 1900. It is organized by year on a GRID of images that can be filtered via a dropdown menu according to a range of criteria: Existing or Demolished; by Use (Office, Apartment, Hotel, Loft, Other); and by Neighborhood. To identify and explore an individual building in the grid, click on a tile to open a pop-up window of images and data.

Seen together and ordered by year, the full GRID shows the great majority of New York's early high-rises were blocky structures, capped with cornices that emphasize the horizontal. Only a few were very tall and relatively slender, making a silhouette against the sky that bespeaks "skyscraper," a term coined in the 1880s.

The TIMELINE shows all 252 buildings erected in Manhattan from 1874 through 1900 that were ten stories or taller. Ordered by year of completion, they are represented by colored bars that measure their height and that differentiate uses as Offices, Apartments, Hotels, Lofts, or Other.  Starting in 1874 with the 260-foot Tribune Building, the TIMELINE illustrates the annual addition of new space in commercial buildings.

Viewing the bars over the full quarter century reveals the expected growth in both the number and height of structures, especially of tall office buildings in the 1890s. It also shows periods of active apartment and hotel construction, as well as a large proportion of lofts. Click on a bar to trigger a popup with construction details and images.

Though you probably shouldn't go out and do these lower Manhattan historical walking tours during quarantine, you still can on the computer! The Skyscraper Museum updated four walking tours, first created in 1996 as Heritage Trails New York, adding modern markers reflecting two further decades of development. The map on the project website is the next best thing to walking the actual trails.