10 Great Books for Skyscraper Enthusiasts

Favorite Books for Anyone Who Loves Tall Buildings

Ever since the late 1800s when the first skyscrapers appeared, tall buildings have inspired awe and fascination. The beautiful books listed here pay tribute to every variety of skyscraper, including Classical, Art Deco, Expressionist, Modernist, and Postmodernist, and to the architects who conceived them.

A fascinating look at the history of New York's tall buildings and the building boom in Manhattan in the late 1800s and early 1900s. 206 photographs. By Carl W. Condit and Sarah Bradford Landau, Yale University Press, 1996. Also see:

The Home Insurance Building in Chicago is often considered to be the first skyscraper built (1885). In this little book, preservationist Leslie Hudson has gathered together vintage postcards to help us explore Chicago's skyscraper era.

A good roundup of skyscrapers at the time (2000), with information about developments in form, character, and technology. By John Zukowsky and Martha Thorne. Also see:

In 2013, Judith Dupre revised and updated her popular book. Why so popular? Not only is it thoroughly researched, well-written, and beautifully presented, it also is a huge book, measuring  18.2 inches long. That's from your waist to your chin, folks!  It's a tall book for a towering subject. Also see:

Eric Peter Nash and photographer Norman McGrath present a hundred years of New York's most interesting and important tall buildings. Seventy-five skyscrapers are photographed and presented with a history of each building and quotes from the architects. Princeton Architectural Press, 2010. Also see:

This book reminds us that architecture does not stand apart from society. The skyscraper, in particular, is the type of building that not only inspires architects, but also the people who build them, live and work in them, film them, and the daredevils who climb them. By George H. Douglas, 2004.

Subtitled, "The AIG Building & the Architecture of Wall Street," this hardcover looks at the four major towers in New York City's financial district and examines the financial, geographical, and historical forces that brought these buildings into being. By Daniel Abramson and Carol Willis, Princeton Architectural Press, 2000. Also see:

William Aiken Starrett's 1928 publication is available to read for free online, but Nabu Press has reproduced the work as a testament to its historic timelessness.

This spiral-bound oversized book by Eric Howeler and Jeannie Meejin Yoon takes 27 of the world's most famous skyscrapers, scales them equally, and cuts them into three pieces that can be recombined to make 15,625 new buildings of your own design. "1,001 Skyscrapers" is not a children's book; builders of all ages will be entertained and enlightened. Princeton Architectural Press, 2000. Also see:

As architecture critic of The New York Times in 1981, Paul Goldberger took on thoroughly understanding the American skyscraper. As a history and commentary of this peculiar form of architecture, The Skyscraper was Goldberger's second book in a long career of observing, thinking, and writing. Twenty years later, when we looked at skyscrapers differently, this fine author wrote the text for The World Trade Center Remembered.

More from Paul Goldberger:

Not Just for Kids

Who Built That? Skyscrapers: An Introduction to Skyscrapers and Their Architects by Didier Cornille is supposed to be for 7 to 12 year-olds, but it just might be my favorite book of all. Princeton Architectural Press, 2014.