The First Skyscraper

Chester Arthur

Definition and Summary of the First Skyscraper
Summary and Definition: The ten-storey Home Insurance Building in Chicago was the first skyscraper ever built. It was designed by the civil engineer and architect Major William Le Baron Jenney who utilized a steel frame for its construction. The steel frame of the Home Insurance Building supported the entire weight of the walls, instead of load-bearing walls carrying the weight of the building. William Jenney is often referred to as the “Father of the Skyscraper” and his  innovative development and architectural design led to the "Chicago skeleton" form of construction. The Home Insurance building was the first fully metal-framed building, and is considered the first skyscraper.

The First Skyscraper for kids
Chester Arthur was the 21st American President who served in office from September 19, 1881 to March 4, 1885. One of the important events during his presidency was the completion of the First Skyscraper in 1884.


The First Skyscraper - Home Insurance Building, Chicago

The First Skyscraper

Fast Facts about the First Skyscraper for kids: Fact Sheet
Fast, fun facts about the First Skyscraper for kids:

Name: The Home Insurance Building

Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America

Name of the Designer and Architect: William Le Baron Jenney (1832-1907)

Date the first Skyscraper was completed: 1884

Original Height of the First Skyscraper was 138 ft (42 m)

Number of Storeys: Ten-storey construction

Floors added: Two additional floors were added in 1890

Extended height: 180 feet (54.9 meters)

Date the First Skyscraper was Demolished: 1931

Name of Building now on the site: The Bank of America Building

Picture of the First Skyscraper: The picture shows the 12-storey construction and the photo was taken in the early 1900's and shows the cars of that era.

The First Skyscraper Fact Sheet for kids
Interesting, fun First Skyscraper Facts for kids are detailed below. The history of the building of the First Skyscraper is told in a factual sequence consisting of a series of unusual short facts providing a simple method of relating the famous people and events and the construction of the First Skyscraper.

First Skyscraper Facts for kids

First Skyscraper Fact 1: In 1871 the Great Chicago Fire devastated the 'Windy City' destroying $200 million dollars worth of property and making over 100,000 people homeless

First Skyscraper Fact 2: Following the terrible disaster, the city of Chicago embarked on a building frenzy to re-build their metropolis. The construction materials were no longer wood. The buildings were made of stone, brick iron and a new material called steel.

First Skyscraper Fact 3: Steel: The Bessemer Process was invented by Henry Bessemer in 1856 that created steel from iron. The Bessemer process was improved in 1876 by Sidney Gilchrist Thomas which produced steel cheaply and efficiently.

First Skyscraper Fact 4: In the fall of 1883 William Jenney won a competition held by the Home Insurance Company in New York for a new building in Chicago

First Skyscraper Fact 5: Steel: The cheap production of steel opened up the possibilities of a new style of architecture using steel beams. William Jenney used metal columns and beams, instead of stone and brick, to support the upper levels of the building. He was the first to incorporate steel as a structural material.

First Skyscraper Fact 6: The design of the Home Insurance Building in Chicago revolutionized architecture and enabled the architect William Le Baron Jenney to create an enormously tall steel frame building which became known as the "skyscraper"

First Skyscraper Fact 7: Engineers and Architects had encountered numerous problems with tall buildings. Brick could not bear the weight of buildings higher than five or six stories.

● As a building grew in height it became thicker, darker, and less attractive to prospective tenants
● Taller buildings needed stronger walls
● Walls were made stronger by making them thicker
● Thicker walls left less space for windows
● Fewer windows caused problems with ventilation
● William Jenney solved the problem of building practical, tall buildings with his innovative design

First Skyscraper Fact 8: The diagram shows the internal structure and connections

● The skeleton frame of steel was bolted together in unitary structure, by joining together standardized units to form larger compositions
● The floors were all carried on the steel frame
● The vertical columns were erected upon a very firm foundation
● Horizontal beams and girders were bolted on the floor levels and kept in place by tie rods
● Hollow fireproof tiles to formed the floor
● The outer masonry walls were built around the steel skeleton frame

Skyscraper internal construction

First Skyscraper Fact 9: There were many advantages to the new, innovative design in construction:

● The new design in architecture, using steel, enabled the vertical extension of buildings to a greater number of stories
● The ever-increasing price of city lots made this type of building highly desirable and cost effective
● The style avoided loss of interior space
● Steel helped to make buildings fireproof

First Skyscraper Fact 10: The architectural design of tall building was made possible by the use of electricity:

● In 1852 Elisha Otis had invented the first safety brake for elevators which made it practical to build buildings of 5 storeys. Then the electric elevator was invented in the 1880's which was smaller and more practical for taller buildings
● Early ventilation systems used electric fans to move air through ducts
● Electric pumps were used in plumbing to provide pressure to circulate water

First Skyscraper Fact 11: The Home Insurance Building building was extended by two storeys in 1890.

First Skyscraper Fact 12: The viability of the skyscraper was due to the invention of the elevator, the use of steel skeletal structures and the boom in office work by the 1890s.

First Skyscraper Fact 13: The first skyscraper in New York was the Tacoma Building on lower Broadway that was built in 1899 by George Fuller (1851-1900)

First Skyscraper Fact 14: The Home Insurance Building was demolished in 1931 to make way for another skyscraper, originally called the Field Building and is now known as the Bank of America Building.

First Skyscraper Facts for kids

First Skyscraper - President Chester Arthur Video
The article on the First Skyscraper provides detailed facts and a summary of one of the important events during his presidential term in office. The following Chester Arthur video will give you additional important facts and dates about the political events experienced by the 21st American President whose presidency spanned from September 19, 1881 to March 4, 1885.

First Skyscraper

Interesting Facts about First Skyscraper for kids and schools
● Construction of the First Skyscraper in America
The construction of the First Skyscraper, a major event in US history
Chester Arthur Presidency September 19, 1881 to March 4, 1885
Fast, fun, interesting facts about the First Skyscraper construction
First Skyscraper in America
Chester Arthur Presidency and facts about the First Skyscraper for schools, homework, kids and children

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