Friday, September 3, 2010

Look Up In the Sky

Magnet # 333: Kuala Lumpur Skyline, Malaysia

Material: Resin

Purchased By: Marissa

Welcome all to Skyscraper Day, a day set aside to celebrate the highest structures on our Earth. They may be the creation of necessity, as many cities that are too overcrowded have finally turned to building them to house people and businesses they might not otherwise be able to accommodate, but they've become far more as time has progressed. Skyscrapers are also works of art designed by some of the world's most prestigious architects. They attract crowds of visitors eager to travel to the top and take in some of the best views of the surrounding areas. And they are a prestigious landmark for the cities, and even nations, over which they stand. The competition to have the tallest skyscraper in the world is serious stuff. Although one country may ascend to the top of the list, there are always others hot on their heels, eager to take the title and the honor that goes with it.

Skyscraper Day is held on September 3 in honor of Louis Sullivan, who was born on this day in 1856. He went on to become an architect, and many consider him to be the creator of the modern skyscraper. By age 16, he was a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but he left after only a year and moved to Philadelphia, where he managed to get a job with architect Frank Furness. However, bad economic times eventually forced Furness to let Sullivan go and he moved to Chicago, which was still rebuilding after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. He worked there, spent some time in Paris, and then moved back to Chicago, where he used what he had learned about Renaissance artists following their own inspiration and not works from the past to guide his future projects. He became famous for designing theaters and went on to design steel high-rises, pioneering the field and solving dilemmas others couldn't. Later, in part due to economic troubles, he fell into decline and died in poverty. But his work continues to inspire to this day, many consider him the first modernist, and he was also a very important mentor to one of the most highly respected architects of all time, Frank Lloyd Wright. I think it's definitely appropriate Skyscraper Day is held on his birthday, as the advancements he made in architecture have no doubt been very important in the development of these giants.

If you're lucky to come across any skyscrapers in your travels today, take the time to get a good look at them and appreciate just how grand they truly are. These structures are a sign of just how far humankind has advanced, and not every city or town is fortunate enough to have one of their own. Of course, New York City is an obvious place to see plenty of skyscrapers, from the Empire State Building to the Chrysler Building to the more historic Flatiron Building and Woolworth Building. New York City and the United States held the record for having the tallest buildings in the world for decades, most notably when the Sears Tower held the record for nearly a whopping 25 years, but the times are changing. Now, the tallest skyscrapers can be found all over the globe, in Asia and the United Arab Emirates, where Burj Khalifa currently holds the title of highest building in the world. Malaysia's capitol city of Kuala Lumpur is a great place to take in some of the highest structures in the world. It's home to the Petronas Twin Towers, the tallest twin towers worldwide, as well as the Kuala Lumpur Tower, which ranks as the eighteenth tallest freestanding structure in the world. The Eye on Malaysia, a 200 foot Ferris wheel, was once also located in Kuala Lumpur, but it has been relocated to Malacca. Still, the city remains a great place to check out some of the tallest buildings in the world. Even if you can't make it out there, consider checking out one of your nearby skyscrapers. Some even offer restaurants at the top which, though pricey, make the experience even more enjoyable. After all, it's tough to beat a view from the top!

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