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Home Insurance Building
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Vital Statistics:
Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Completion Date: 1885 (demolished in 1931)
Height: 138 feet
Stories: 10
Materials: Steel
Facing Materials: Brick
Engineer(s): William LeBaron Jenney

Considered the first American skyscraper, the 10-story Home Insurance Building in Chicago was the first tall building to be supported by a metal skeleton of vertical columns and horizontal beams. Engineer William LeBaron Jenney discovered that thin pieces of steel could support a tall building as well as thick stone walls could. The steel necessary to carry Jenney's 10-story building weighed only one-third as much as a 10-story building made of heavy masonry. Since the steel skeleton supported the weight of the entire building and the exterior wall was really just a skin to keep out the weather, the Home Insurance Building was the first tall building to have many windows. Jenney’s steel frame brought floor space and windows to the structure we now know as the modern skyscraper.


Here's how this skyscraper stacks up against the biggest skyscrapers in the world.
(height, in feet)

Chart showing the relative size of the biggest skyscrapers in the world Home Insurance Building
138'

Fast Facts:
  • During construction, people were so worried that Jenney’s building would fall down that the city halted construction to investigate the structure’s safety.
  • Today, the Home Insurance Building is considered the "father of the skyscraper."

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