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Manhattan Building

Photo credit: Alan Brunettin
One of Chicago’s earliest skyscrapers: The Manhattan Building. Photo credit: Alan Brunettin
Photo credit: Alan Brunettin
The Manhattan Building’s architect, William LeBaron Jenney, is considered “the father of the American skyscraper.” Photo credit: Alan Brunettin

The word “skyscraper” was first used to refer to buildings in an 1888 article in the Chicago Inter-Ocean: “The ‘sky-scrapers’ of Chicago outrival anything of their kind in the world.”

The Manhattan Building was designed by William LeBaron Jenney, who introduced the use of a skeletal frame system to support the weight of exterior walls and take buildings higher —without the massive stone foundations of previous buildings.  His structural engineering innovations in steel and iron made our tall skylines possible.  

As one of the world’s earliest skyscrapers, the 16-story Manhattan Building drew the attention of visitors to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, who came to stare up in awe at this towering innovation.