A changing America brought about many changes to society and living situations. Even more than before the masses were drawn into the major cities, or more urban places. Buildings before inventions of the 19th century could not be more than four or five stories tall. However, in the 1850s the invention of the electric elevator made it possible for buildings to become a little taller because of the limit on the number of stairs that were permitted. There was a limit on the number of stairs any person was required to climb in a building, making the construction of taller buildings quite pointless because they wouldn't be allowed that many stairs. The 1870s brought about advancements in building materials such as iron and steel. Without new industry and technology, such as the Bessemer process, the skyscraper would not have come about for quite awhile.

In New York, The Equitable Building was finished in 1870, and rose a total of seven and a half floors above the street. However it was soon replaced with even taller ten and twelve story buildings, such as William Leexternal image jenney-leiter-sull.jpg Baron Jenney's creation in Chicago. Completed in 1884, the Home Insurance Building was a total of ten stories, and truly revolutionized building practices. Jenney used steel girder construction to build this, which made it possible to be taller. Soon, taller buildings were becoming more popular and New York became the site of the most tall buildings in the world. Due to the size of the business capital in Manhattan, it was necessary to use space efficiently. There, the only way to go was up. However popular taller buildings became, the term skyscraper truly gained popularity and meaning in the 1890s.

Loexternal image Louis_Sullivan_-_Wainwright_Building,_Seventh_%2B_Chestnut_Streets,_Saint_Louis,_St._Louis_City_County,_MO.jpguis Sullivan, an architect based in Chicago really spurred early development of skyscrapers with his modern, functional ideas for his buildings. He preferred to emphasize the size of the building above all else, and eliminated decoration in favor of sheer lines. He also put forth the idea for larger windows in the skyscrapers as well, and utilized many geometric patterns in his work. Sullivan's contemporary and student Frank Lloyd Wright carried his vision further, and put it towards all buildings tall and short.

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William Le Baron Jenney/ Home Insurance Building
Louis Sullivan

external image LouisSullivan.jpg The invention of the skyscraper revolutionized cities and architecture. The price of land in urban areas went up even more with this innovation because of the now conquerable space, instead of one floor, there was potential to build up, so the land cost much more. This began city life as we know it today in large cities such as Chicago and Manhattan.