Top 10 City Skylines
Cities have recently outpaced the suburbs in terms of overall growth in the United States, according to U.S. Census data. About half of the major cities in the United States experienced a steady increase in growth between July 2010 and July 2011 (The Wall Street Journal). This is the first time in decades that this has occurred. Studies have also shown that as of 2010, more than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas (UN Population Division 2010). It is estimated that by 2050, nearly 70 percent of the world’s people will live in cities, a major jump from only 30 percent in 1950 (UN Population Division 2010).
However, what defines our cities? The people, culture, entertainment, food, clothes, language? Certainly all of these aspects contribute, but how about the buildings that form our cities’ appearances and comprise the skyline?
A skyline serves as a kind of physical representation of a city’s facts of life; potentially, it is also a work of art and a collective vista (Spreiregen 63-65). Here is a glance at 10 stunning skylines from across the globe.
10. Sao Paulo, Brazil
Home to a gigantic mass of apartment buildings, with only a single building over 200 meters tall (656 feet), Sao Paulo is best described as a “vast array of buildings.” The city population rounds out at nearly 20 million, making it the second most populous in the Americas, trailing only Mexico City. As you can imagine, getting around by roads is difficult, so the city resorts to its fleet of more than 500 helicopters!
9. Sydney, Australia
Defined by its distinct natural harbor, Sydney has a skyline dotted with hundreds of skyscrapers and high-rises. Notable buildings include the Harbor Bridge and the Opera House. With a metropolitan population of 4.6 million and growing yearly, Sydney is Australia’s largest city.
8. Tokyo, Japan
It is no surprise that the world’s most populated city (13.2 million city population, 35.7 million metro population) features an impressive collection of structures. Tokyo Tower is one of the many focal points, changing colors at night. Due to its size, every vantage point has a unique vista. Filled with bright lighting and contemporary architecture, the cityscape has been featured in loads of movies. Of course, Mount Fuji in the distance is not to be forgotten.
7. Bangkok, Thailand
This city is filled with life, vigor, and culture. The densest areas are dotted with white buildings, creating an interesting visual throughout the day. Bangkok is continually growing, and this expansion brings traffic congestion and pollution problems. Critics have often claimed that an evident style of architecture amongst the skyline is lacking, yet its overall size gives Bangkok, with a city population of 8.2 million, intrinsic energy.
6. Seoul, South Korea
Divided into business, residential, cultural, and entertainment districts, its recent growth has been fueled by residential towers. Seoul is characteristic because its ancient Eastern ties pair with modernity. With a city population of more than 10 million, Seoul’s metropolitan population tops out at a staggering 25 million!
5. Singapore, Singapore
Air traffic control restrictions have maintained that buildings cannot be taller than 280 meters (919 feet). The restrictions have led to a design featuring consistent building height and development pattern, which greatly enhances the city. A majority of the buildings are light-colored, and green space extends throughout the core. Some experts claim Singapore is one of the cleanest cities in the world. The city population is 5.2 million.
4. Chicago, USA
Heralded as the birthplace of the modern skyscraper, its first steel skyscraper opened in 1885 and became the tallest building in the world at the time, creating a new style of engineering. This would later go on to dramatically change the complexion of almost every city. Chicago is home to exemplary mid-century architecture and modern skyscrapers. The tallest are Willis Tower at 442.1 meters (1,450 feet), Trump Tower at 357 meters (1,170 feet), and John Hancock Center at 321 meters (1,054 feet). Several perspectives throughout the city have expansive views, but the best places to catch a glimpse are the Adler Planetarium or Montrose Point. Chicago’s city population is about 2.7 million, making it the third largest in the United States.
3. Shanghai, China
Perhaps one of the most modern cities in the world, Shanghai is China’s largest city, with a city population of 17.8 million. Ultimately known for its modern architecture, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower is 468 meters (1,535 feet) tall, and Shanghai World Financial Center is 492 meters (1614.2 feet), among the tallest. Shanghai is one of the largest economic centers in the world.
2. New York, USA
New York City has an impressive, extensive collection of buildings. Also, it possesses perhaps the greatest history in terms of skyscrapers. The Empire State Building at 381 meters (1,250 feet), Chrysler Building at 319 meters (1,046 feet), and Bank of America Tower at 366 meters (1,200 feet) are some of the notable buildings. One World Trade Center is currently being constructed and is slated to be an architectural height of 541.32 meters (1,776 feet) when it opens in late 2013, making it the tallest in the United States. With a city population of 8.2 million, New York City it is the largest city in the United States. The best views can be captured at Fulton Street Pier or Liberty State Park.
1. Hong Kong, China
With a city population of more than 7 million, Hong Kong showcases over 3,000 buildings taller than 91 meters (300 feet) (Chicago Tribune). Interestingly, the first skyscraper was not built until roughly 75 years ago. The skyline is exuberant at all times of day, but at night it dazzles with brightly hued lighting and reflections. The cityscape can be adventurously viewed from Victoria Harbor or Victoria Peak.
Each city skyline is unique to its setting. With a growing worldwide urban population, it will be interesting to see how this movement changes the complexion of skylines. Will the sheer demand for residential, business, and commercial buildings dictate the cityscape, or will building height restrictions and zoning measures control the outlook? We must focus on sustaining and cultivating cities that are centers of cultural meaning, that maintain strong commitment to high-quality public space, that offer opportunities for everyone to participate in the economy, that include safe neighborhoods with a range of housing types, that provide equal access to education, that fulfill a viable and interconnected public transit system, and that ultimately create a safe, livable environment for all. This is a question that should be asked in order to reduce sprawl and to maintain a dense, vibrant city core.
Article written by Brett Lezon
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