|Home Insurance Building|
|Location||Chicago, Illinois, United States|
|Roof||Originally 138 feet (42.1 meters)|
|Top floor||After addition of the final two floors – 180 feet (55 meters)|
|Floor count||10 (later 12)|
|Design and construction|
|Architect(s)||William Le Baron Jenney|
The Home Insurance Building was a skyscraper that stood in Chicago from 1885 to 1931. Originally ten stories and 138 ft (42.1 m) tall, it was designed by William Le Baron Jenney in 1884 and completed the next year. Two floors were added in 1891, bringing its now finished height to 180 feet (54.9 meters). It was the first tall building to be supported both inside and outside by a fireproof structural steel frame, though it also included reinforced concrete. It is considered the world's first skyscraper.
The building opened in 1885 and was demolished 46 years later in 1931.
Because of the building's unique architecture and weight-bearing frame, it is considered one of the world's first skyscrapers. It had 10 stories and rose to a height of 138 ft (42.1 m); two additional floors were added in 1891, bringing the total to 12 floors, an unprecedented height at the time.
The building weighed one-third as much as a masonry building and city officials were so concerned they halted construction while they investigated its safety.
Demolition and replacement
In April 1929 the building was reported as having a 90 percent occupancy rate, compared to an occupancy rate of the surrounding financial district estimated at 96 percent or more. In September 1929 plans were made by Marshall Field's to construct a large office building spanning Adams, Clark, and LaSalle Streets. This building would be constructed and opened in parts, the first part occupying the western part of the lot and the site of the Home Insurance Building.
This section of the Field Building is erected on the site of the Home Insurance Building, which structure, designed and built in eighteen hundred and eighty four by the late William Le Baron Jenney, was the first high building to utilize as the basic principle of its design the method known as skeleton construction and, being a primal influence in the acceptance of this principle, was the true father of the skyscraper, 1932.
Status as first skyscraper
The Home Insurance Building in Chicago is often considered the world's first skyscraper due to both its design and height; the building was supported using an iron frame skeleton. It was one of the earliest buildings to use an iron frame skeleton and the tallest to ever do so at the time, rising to ten stories; with an additional two stories added. It was the first multistory building in the United States to largely use iron in its exterior to support the masonry since Badger had constructed similar grain elevators between 1860 and 1862. The status of the Home Insurance Building as the first skyscraper had been accorded by the time of its centennial in 1985.
The Chicago press at the time of its construction did not refer to it as the first skyscraper in Chicago. An 1884 list of buildings considered skyscrapers in Chicago listed three buildings in the city whose final heights would be taller than the Home Insurance Building's, although the Home Insurance Building was completed in 1885, a year after the list. Iron framing of multistory buildings had originated in England in the late 18th century and was able to replace exterior load-bearing walls by 1844, but social movements and legal regulations hindered their use at that time. An example is the Ditherington Flax Mill in England, but it was only five stories tall. The Broad Street Station in Philadelphia, a six-story building designed by Wilson Brothers & Company built in 1881, had a structural steel frame and was one of the first buildings in America to use masonry not as structure, but as curtain wall. But at only six stories, it was not considered the world's first skyscraper. Chicago and New York each had some lower height structures using iron framing, but they were not fireproof. Later buildings in Chicago were able to solve these problems by supporting the external masonry entirely on the iron frame, which later became the standard worldwide. Peter B. Wright had constructed such a column in Chicago in 1874. Leroy Buffington of Minneapolis developed a system of using wrought iron to frame buildings. However, the design of the Home Insurance Building, supporting the external masonry entirely on the iron frame, was used more by architects worldwide. Buffington later patented his wrought iron to frame design in 1888, but the Chicago school of architecture had already begun. Other tall structures completed before the external masonry to iron frame style included the 1882 Montauk Building (also in Chicago) and the 1870 Equitable Life Building in New York. There were also a few other buildings in New York and Chicago of similar height with different architectural designs, however.
- Smith, Chrysti M. (2006). Verbivore's Feast: Second Course: More Word & Phrase Origins. Farcountry Press. p. 289. ISBN 9781560374022. Retrieved January 19, 2012.
The word skyscraper, in its architectural context, was first applied to the Home Insurance Building, completed in Chicago in 1885.
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