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Title: Skyline  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Hong Kong, New York City, Architecture of Houston, MIT class ring, Skyscraper
Collection: Architectural Terminology, City, Landscape Art, Skyscrapers
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


A skyline is the horizon that a city's overall structure, human intervention in a non-urban setting, or nature, creates. City skylines serve as a kind of fingerprint as no two skylines are alike. For this reason, news and sports programs, television shows, and movies often display the skyline of a city to set a location. The term The Sky Line of New York City was first introduced in 1896, when it was the title of a color lithograph by Charles Graham for the color supplement of the New York Journal.[1]

Paul D. Spreiregen, FAIA, has called a skyline "a physical representation [of a city's] facts of life ... a potential work of art ... its collective vista."[2]

The skyscrapers of New York City are almost all situated in Manhattan, seen here in this panorama viewed from Weehawken, New Jersey, in January 2015. Prominent tall buildings include One57 and 432 Park Avenue, left of center; the Empire State Building, right of center; and on the far right of the picture, One World Trade Center, the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. Near the last mentioned, Four World Trade Center, 70 Pine Street, the Woolworth Building, and 40 Wall Street can be seen. At the center of the skyline picture, the Chrysler Building, The New York Times Building, and the Conde Nast Building can be picked out of the crowd by their spires.


  • History 1
    • Early examples 1.1
    • Modern skylines 1.2
  • Features 2
    • Skyscrapers 2.1
    • Towers 2.2
    • Sports stadiums 2.3
    • Remote locations 2.4
  • Architectural features 3
    • Notable architects influencing skyline 3.1
  • Use of skylines in media 4
  • Subjective ranking of skylines 5
  • Gallery 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10


Early examples

Modern skylines

Ski lift pylon in Italy transforming a natural skyline

Some natural skylines have been unintentionally modified for commercial reasons.



Tall buildings, including skyscrapers, are the fundamental feature of urban skylines.[3][4]


Towers from different eras make for contrasting skylines.


Sports stadiums

The Colosseum and 2008 Beijing Olympic Stadium give varied sport stadium skylines.

Remote locations

Some remote locations have striking skylines, created either by nature alone or by sparse human settlement in an environment not conducive to housing significant populations.

Apollo 17 Moon landing site panorama

Architectural features

Notable architects influencing skyline

Norman Foster served as architect for the Gherkin in London and the Hearst Tower in Midtown Manhattan, and these buildings have to added to their cities' skylines.

Albert Speer made a notable night time skyline with searchlights at Nuremberg.

Use of skylines in media

Skylines are sometimes used as backgrounds for movies, television shows, news websites, and in other forms of media.

Subjective ranking of skylines

Several services rank skylines based on their own subjective criteria. Emporis is one such service, which uses height and other data to give point values to buildings and add them together for skylines.


See also


  1. ^ "Moving Uptown".  
  2. ^ Paul D. Spreiregen (1965). Urban Design: The Architecture of Towns and Cities.  
  3. ^ Heath, Tom; Smith, Sandy G.; Lim, Bill (July 2000). "Tall Buildings and the Urban Skyline: The Effect of Visual Complexity on Preferences". Environment and Behavior 32 (4): 541–556.  
  4. ^ McNeill, Donald (February 2005). "Skyscraper geography". Progress Human Geography 29 (1): 41–55.  
  5. ^

Further reading

  • Emporis ranking of cities by the visual impact of their skylines
  • Attoe, Wayne (1981). Skylines: understanding and molding urban silhouettes. Wiley.  
  • Bacon, Edmund (1967).  
  • Lim, Bill; Heath, Tom (1993). Hayman H., ed. "What is skyline: a quantitative approach". Architectural science: past, present and future, Proceedings of the Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Architectural Science Association (Sydney: University of Sydney): 23–32. 
  • Ford, Larry R. (1976). "The urban skyline as a city classification system". Journal of Geography (Taylor & Francis) 75 (3): 154–164.  

External links

  • Di Serio's top 15 Skylines
  • The World's Best Skylines calculates ranking by height and breadth of skylines.
  • All About Skyscrapers
  • Tallest Cities of the World calculated ranking strictly by height.
  • Skyline on
  • Top Skylines in the world as rated by Artists
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