11 Skyscrapers That Predicted History's Worst Financial Crises

Burj Khalifa DubaiBurj Khalifa, Dubai

In China, construction on Sky City, which is expected to be the world’s tallest building, will begin in June.

It is expected to rise to 838 meters.

Barclays’ Skyscraper Index suggests that construction booms, especially those highlighted by record-breaking skyscrapers, coincide with the beginning of economic¬† downturns. The index even suggests that the rate of increase in height could also reflect the extent of that economic crisis.¬†

Drawing on Barclays’ Skyscraper Index, we pulled 11 skyscrapers whose constructions coincided with the financial crises of their times.

Equitable Life Building (1873)

The Long Depression, 1873 - 1878

The pervasive U.S. economic recession with bank failures that came to be known as the Long Depression coincided with the construction of the Equitable Life Building in New York in 1873. At the time the building was the first skyscraper at a height of 142 feet.

Source: Barclays

Auditorium (1889) and New York World (1890)

British Banking Crisis, 1890

Chicago's 269-foot tall Auditorium building completed in 1889, and the 309-foot tall New York World building completed in 1890, coincided with the British banking crisis of 1890, and a world recession.

Source: Barclays

Masonic Temple, Manhattan Life Building and Milwaukee City Hall (1893)

U.S. panic marked by the collapse of railroad overbuilding, 1893

Chicago's 302-foot tall Masonic Temple, and the 348-feet tall Manhattan Life Building, and the 353-foot tall Milwaukee City Hall coincided with the US panic of 1893 marked by the collapse of railroad overbuilding. It also coincided with a string of bank failures and a run on gold.

Source: Barclays

Park Row Building (1901)

First stock market crash on the NYSE, 1901

The construction of the 391 feet tall Park Row Building presaged the US stock market crash and panic of 1901, as did the completion of Philadelphia City Hall, which stood at a height of 511 feet.

Source: Barclays

Singer Building and MetLife Building (1907)

The Bankers' Panic and U.S. economic crisis, 1907 - 1910

The construction of New York's 612-foot tall Singer building, and the 700-foot tall Metropolitan life building corresponded with the panic of 1907. The Bankers' Panic was a financial crisis that occurred after the NYSE fell nearly 50% from its peak, and reflected a monetary expansion brought about by the establishment of trust companies.

Source: Barclays

40 Wall Street (1929), Chrysler (1930), and Empire State Building (1931)

The Great Depression, 1929 - 1933

The construction of three record breaking buildings coincided with the onset of the Great Depression. 40 Wall Street which on completion in 1929 reached 927 feet, followed by the 1,046 foot tall Chrysler building in 1930, and the Empire State building in 1931, which towered over the others at 1,250 feet.

Source: Barclays

World Trade centre (1972-1973) and Sears Tower (1974)

U.S. and worldwide economic crisis, 1973 - 1975

The 1972 construction of One World Trade centre, the 1973 completion of Two World Trade centre, and the 1974 construction of the Sears Tower in Chicago, coincided with a period of speculation in monetary expansion from foreign lending.

It also coincided with the collapse of the Bretton Woods system, a rise in oil prices that caused a global economic crisis, and speculation in stocks, property, ships and aircrafts.

Source: Barclays

Petronas Towers (1997)

Asian economic crisis, 1997 - 1998

The Asian economic crisis, currency devaluation and speculation in stock and property coincided with the completion of the Petronas Towers in 1997. At 1,483 feet, the Petronas Towers were the tallest buildings in the world and heralded a crisis in that region.

Source: Barclays

Taipei 101 (1999)

Dot-Com Bubble, 2000 - 2003

The construction of the 1,671 foot tall Taipei 101 began in 1999 and was completed in 2004. The duration coincided without the recession in the early 2000s and the tech bubble.

Source: Barclays

Burj Khalifa, 2010

The Great Recession, 2007 - 2010

The 2010 completion of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, which towers at 2,717 feet coincided with the current global financial crisis. The building surpassed Taipei 101's height on July 21, 2007.

Source: Barclays

Bonus - China will begin construction on Sky City, the new tallest building in the world.

Sky City, outside of Changsha, China is expected to rise to 838 meters. The 220-story building is expected to house 30,000 people. It is expected to take seven months to build and to cost $628 million.

This construction comes as concerns of a Chinese hard landing have returned, and as concerns over the global economic recovery continue.

Now look at some other tall skyscrapers coming up around the world...

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