The word “skyscraper” was used to describe a tall building for the first time during the construction boom that rippled across many America cities in the late 19th century. But the idea of multi-storied buildings was hardly new. In the desert city of Shibam, in Yemen, there are mudbrick residential buildings as tall as ten stories, built in the 13th century. In San Gimignano, in Italy’s Tuscany, there was once more than seventy towers, two hundred feet tall, all constructed before the 15th century.
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The Home Insurance Building built in 1885, in Chicago, is often regarded as the world’s first skyscraper. Photo credit: Underwood & Underwood/Corbis