Cities in the Sky: The Quest to Build the World's Tallest Skyscrapers (Hardcover)

Cities in the Sky: The Quest to Build the World's Tallest Skyscrapers By Jason M. Barr Cover Image
On Our Shelves Now
1 on hand, as of Jul 19 10:08am


From one of the world’s top experts on the economics of skyscrapers—a fascinating account of the ever-growing quest for super tall buildings across the globe.

The world’s skyscrapers have brought us awe and wonder, and yet they remain controversial—for their high costs, shadows, and overt grandiosity. But, decade by decade, they keep getting higher and higher. What is driving this global building spree of epic proportions? In Cities in the Sky, author Jason Barr explains all: why they appeal to cities and nations, how they get financed, why they succeed economically, and how they change a city’s skyline and enable the world’s greatest metropolises to thrive in the 21st century.

From the Empire State Building (1,250 feet) to the Shanghai Tower (2,073 feet) and everywhere in between, Barr explains the unique architectural and engineering efforts that led to the creation of each. Along the way, Barr visits and unpacks some surprising myths about the earliest skyscrapers and the growth of American skylines after World War II, which incorporated a new suite of technologies that spread to the rest of the world in the 1990s. Barr also explores why London banned skyscrapers at the end of the 19th century but then embraced them in the 21st and explains how Hong Kong created the densest cluster of skyscrapers on the planet. Also covered is the dramatic result of China’s “skyscraper fever” and then on to the Arabian Peninsula to see what drove Dubai to build the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, which at 2,717 feet, is higher than the new One World Trade Center in New York by three football fields.

Filled with fascinating details for urbanists, architecture buffs, and urban design enthusiasts alike, Cities in the Sky addresses the good, bad, and ugly for cities that have embraced vertical skylines and offers us a glimpse to the future to see whether cities around the world will continue their journey ever upwards.

About the Author

Jason M. Barr is a professor of economics at Rutgers University-Newark. One of the world’s foremost experts on the economics of skyscrapers, he is the author of Building the Skyline: The Birth and Growth of Manhattan Skyscrapers and has had his research featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, Curbed, and Architectural Record. A Long Island native, Barr received his BA from Cornell University, his MFA in creative writing from Emerson College in Boston, and his PhD from Columbia University. He has also taught at Dartmouth College and Columbia University. His writing has appeared in The New York Times,,, Scientific American, and Irish Independent. He currently writes a blog about skyscrapers, cities, and economics. His favorite skyscraper is the Empire State Building.

Praise For…

"Each time crossing over the Bandra-Worli Sea link, my eyes get locked in to admire Mumbai’s skyline of towers, wrapped in glass . . . Jason Barr’s new book Cities in the Sky makes them come alive with the personalities and constraints of the people who build and use them." —Business Standard

"Fascinating." —Daily Mail

“With a global view and his eyes cast skyward, Barr provides an enjoyable, expansive study of a subject he loves.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Informative . . . for architecture buffs, Barr’s meticulous research is worth checking out.” —Publishers Weekly

"Compelling . . . Barr's book, a result of extensive research, is both entertaining and educational, dissecting concepts like the 'bedrock myth' and the 'status effect.' Most importantly, it articulates the enduring significance of skyscrapers in cities, making it a valuable read for anyone keen to understand the dynamics behind our city skylines." —Stefan Al, author of Supertall: How the World's Tallest Buildings Are Reshaping Our Cities and Our Lives 

"A captivating exploration of skyscrapers, filled with insider stories of how such buildings came to be and what their future might hold. . . . Barr masterfully weaves together the history, myths, economics, and engineering behind the most iconic structures across the world's skylines. More than just a history lesson, Cities in the Sky is about the ambition, ingenuity, and vision that encourage us to build higher and bolder." —Grady Hillhouse, creator of Practical Engineering and author of Engineering in Plain Sight

"Jason M. Barr deftly walks the reader through the development of the skyscraperfrom 1880s Chicago to present day Asiaand the issues that either prevented or made possible their heavens-aspiring construction. Barr's easy-going, conversational writing style makes his discussion of topics like engineering, community impact, and his vision of future cities as engaging to the layman as it is to the urban planner, economist, engineer and architect. Cities in the Sky is a fascinating and informative read." —Tom Miller, author of Seeking New York: The Stories Behind the Historic Architecture of ManhattanOne Building at a Time

Product Details
ISBN: 9781982174217
ISBN-10: 1982174218
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: May 14th, 2024
Pages: 384
Language: English