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For other uses, see Skyline (disambiguation).

A skyline is the horizon that nature, or a city's overall structure creates. City skylines serve as a kind of fingerprint as no two skylines are alike. For this reason, news and sports programs, television shows, and movies often display the skyline of a city to set a location. The term The Sky Line of New York City was first introduced in 1896, when it was the title of a color lithograph by Charles Graham for the color supplement of the New-York Journal.[1]

Paul D. Spreiregen, FAIA, has called a skyline "a physical representation [of a city's] facts of life ... a potential work of art ... its collective vista."[2]

The skyline of Hong Kong is a combination of natural and man made lines
The Colosseum in Rome


Early examples[edit]

Modern skylines[edit]

Ski lift pylon in Italy transforming a natural skyline

Some natural wild skylines have been unintentionally modified for commercial reasons.



Main article: Skyscraper

Tall buildings including skyscrapers are a prominent feature of many skylines.[3][4]


Towers from different eras make for contrasting skylines.

San Gemignano has an "unforgettable skyline" with its competitively built towers.[5]

Sports stadiums[edit]

2008 Olympic stadium Beijing
Main article: Stadium

The Colosseum and Beijing Olympic stadium 2008 give varied sport stadium skylines.

Remote Locations[edit]

Some remote locations have striking skylines.

Apollo 17 Moon landing site panorama

Architectural features[edit]

Notable architects influencing skyline[edit]

Norman Foster's Gherkin and Hearst tower have added to the skylines in London and New York.

Albert Speer made a notable night time skyline with searchlights at Nuremberg.

Use of skylines in media[edit]

Skylines are sometimes used as backgrounds for news and other television shows.

Subjective ranking of skylines[edit]

Several services rank skylines based on their own subjective criteria. Emporis is one such service, which uses height and other data to give point values to buildings and add them together for skylines.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Moving Uptown". New York Public Library. Archived from the original on 2014-12-29. When Charles Graham's view of New York was published, the new term used in the title, "sky line," caught on immediately. 
  2. ^ Paul D. Spreiregen (1965). Urban Design: The Architecture of Towns and Cities. McGraw-Hill. 
  3. ^ Heath, Tom; Smith, Sandy G.; Lim, Bill (July 2000). "Tall Buildings and the Urban Skyline: The Effect of Visual Complexity on Preferences". Environment and Behavior 32 (4): 541–556. doi:10.1177/00139160021972658. ISSN 0013-9165. 
  4. ^ McNeill, Donald (February 2005). "Skyscraper geography". Progress Human Geography 29 (1): 41–55. doi:10.1191/0309132505ph527oa. geographers have tended to neglect the substantial impact of skyscrapers on urban life. 
  5. ^

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]