Skyscraper Bucket List: America's 25 Tallest Buildings

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One World Trade Center against sky on sunny day
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BUILDING ANTICIPATION

The tallest building in the world is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, but the United States boasts plenty of vertical treasures worth marveling at — especially on Skyscraper Day, Sept. 3, the birthday of architect Louis Sullivan, whose work in the 1890s helped make today's structures possible. Here are the 25 tallest buildings in America, according to information from the nonprofit Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat and other sources. Some of these buildings share their views with the public, and there are deals and budget-friendly tips to alleviate occasionally pricey admission fees. But skyscrapers, like other architectural gems, can inspire just as much awe when seen from street level.

311 South Wacker Drive, Chicago
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311 SOUTH WACKER DRIVE | CHICAGO

Height: 961 feet
The Windy City is home to several sky-high architectural landmarks, and like many others, 311 South Wacker was truly innovative when it opened in 1990. The office and commercial building has 65 floors and was briefly the tallest reinforced-concrete building in the world. It stands out among Chicago’s other skyscrapers with its illuminated crown of five translucent cylinders whose colors change for special events and holidays. It also has a 85-foot-tall, glass-ceilinged indoor “winter park,” as well as a 1-acre park where the lunch crowd can gather and relax during the warmer months.

Comcast Center, Philadelphia
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COMCAST CENTER | PHILADELPHIA

Height: 974 feet
The 57-story Comcast Center tower has a few distinctive features, including a 2,000-square-foot HD video wall in the lobby showing hyper-realistic images. A bright, open (and open to the public) eight-story winter garden uses sunscreens and louvers to bring in maximum daylight while blocking the sun's heat, part of the building's overall ecological focus.

4 World Trade Center, New York
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4 WORLD TRADE CENTER | NEW YORK

Height: 977 feet
Part of the new World Trade Center complex in New York City, 4 World Trade Center contains 65 floors of office and retail space. Visitors to the Freedom Tower and 9/11 Memorial can take a short stroll to check out the modern, minimalist structure with an expansive ground-floor lobby, but the 57th-floor terrace is now owned by a finance tech company.

Wells Fargo Plaza, Houston
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WELLS FARGO PLAZA | HOUSTON

Height: 992 feet
The gleaming, reflective structure of the Wells Fargo Plaza greets visitors to downtown Houston. Its 71 stories contain primarily office suites, a health club, and the Consulate-General of the United Kingdom.

Two Prudential Plaza, Chicago
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TWO PRUDENTIAL PLAZA | CHICAGO

Height: 995 feet
Two Prudential Plaza is flanked by the Aon Center and One Prudential Plaza in the Chicago's Loop. Sixty-four stories tall, it features a pyramid peak with distinctive chevron detailing on the sides.

JPMorgan Chase Tower, Houston
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JPMORGAN CHASE TOWER | HOUSTON

Height: 1,002 feet
At 75 stories, the JPMorgan Chase Tower is the tallest building in Texas, but what really sets it apart is that it's the tallest five-sided building in the world. The 60th-floor observatory, formerly a top free tourist attraction for Houston visitors, was closed to the public in 2016.

One57, New York
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ONE57 | NEW YORK

Height: 1,004 feet
One57, in midtown Manhattan overlooking Central Park, boasts some of the most expensive residences in New York City — including a penthouse that sold for $101 million in 2015. The 75-story tower is easily recognized for its gleaming, wavy, blue glass, in addition to its height.

Franklin Center, Chicago
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FRANKLIN CENTER | CHICAGO

Height: 1,007 feet
Downtown Chicago's Franklin Center, home to offices and commercial space, is clad in dark red and rose-colored granite in a postmodern style that features sharp pinnacles, bold lines, and Gothic detailing reminiscent of the 1920s. The tower rises 60 stories.

U.S. Bank Tower, Los Angeles
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U.S. BANK TOWER | LOS ANGELES

Height: 1,018 feet
To see Los Angeles in all its glitzy glory, head to the U.S. Bank Tower. The 73-story building offers an open-air observation deck and the Skyslide — an all-glass slide for visitors who aren't scared of feeling like they're falling 45 feet while suspended 1,000 feet above city streets. A combo ticket costs $33 for adults; subtract the Skyslide and adults pay $25 for general admission to OUE Skyspace LA.

Bank of America Plaza, Atlanta
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BANK OF AMERICA PLAZA | ATLANTA

Height: 1,023 feet
The tallest building in the Southeast, the 55-story Bank of America Plaza features two landscaped plazas on either side where visitors can admire the Art Deco tower. The spired top lights up golden at night.

The New York Times Building, New York
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THE NEW YORK TIMES BUILDING | NEW YORK

Height: 1,046 feet
The New York Times Building sits a block from Times Square in New York City. The 52-story building boasts double layers of floor-to-ceiling glass walls, so the sun serves as a major source of light for its occupants.

Chrysler Building, New York
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CHRYSLER BUILDING | NEW YORK

Height: 1,046 feet
The 77-story Chrysler Building in midtown Manhattan is a must-see for its Art Deco architecture, featuring a beautiful crown and majestic spire — put up by surprise in 1930 to successfully make the building the world's tallest, although the honor lasted for only 11 months. A 71st-floor viewing gallery was closed to the public in 1945, but visitors should keep an eye out for this quintessential New York structure and its gargoyles when walking up Lexington Avenue.

Salesforce Tower, San Francisco
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SALESFORCE TOWER | SAN FRANCISCO

Height: 1,070 feet
Checking in at 61 floors, Salesforce Tower opened this year in the city’s Transbay district, near other big tech names like LinkedIn and Facebook. Its slender, gleaming figure has been compared to “an enormous zucchini,” and it tapers toward the top of the tower where there is a nine-story LED display. Called "Day for Night" and created by artist Jim Campbell, the display features footage shot in the area and rendered in low-resolution form.

3 World Trade Center, New York
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3 WORLD TRADE CENTER | NEW YORK

Height: 1,079 feet
Designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and opened this past June, the building is another step in the rebuilding of World Trade Center. This 80-floor structure houses 2.5 million square feet of commercial space and was designed with an eye toward sustainability. For example, recycled rainwater is used in its air conditioning system, and office workers will be able to enjoy a 5,500-square-foot landscaped garden on the 17th floor and a smaller one on the 76th floor.

Wilshire Grand Center, Los Angeles
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WILSHIRE GRAND CENTER | LOS ANGELES

Height: 1,100 feet
Currently the tallest building in the City of Angels as well as the tallest building west of the Mississippi, the Wilshire Grand boasts 73 stories and futuristic lighting and video displays that give it star power in the L.A. skyline. It houses the 889-room InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown hotel, numerous restaurants and bars (including what is considered the tallest open-air bar in the Western Hemisphere), and offices within its gently arcing profile.

4 Times Square, New York
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4 TIMES SQUARE | NEW YORK

Height: 1,118 feet
Formerly known as the Condé Nast building, 4 Times Square is home to the H&M clothing chain's biggest store (and giant, branded skyline signs) and provides more than 1 million square feet of office space on its 48 floors. It's lauded as one of the biggest structures built to be environmentally responsible, using recycling chutes, solar technology, and fuel cells.

Comcast Technology Center, Philadelphia
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COMCAST TECHNOLOGY CENTER | PHILADELPHIA

Height: 1,121 feet
The City of Brotherly Love is also home to another Comcast tower, which happens to be the tallest in the state. The Comcast Technology Center was completed this summer with 59 floors and 1.56 million square feet. A Four Seasons hotel will eventually occupy several of the building’s upper floors.

875 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago
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875 N. MICHIGAN AVE. (FORMERLY JOHN HANCOCK CENTER) | CHICAGO

Height: 1,128 feet
The 360 Chicago observatory on the 94th floor of 875 N. Michigan Ave. features an attraction called Tilt, which literally tilts visitors to a 30-degree angle so they can look down onto Michigan Avenue. Admission is to the observation deck is $23 for adults and $16 for kids in the summer and $21 and $14 otherwise. But there's a 10 percent discount when buying online. Another option: Visit the Signature Lounge, on the 96th floor of this 100-story tower, where a beer costs less than observatory admission but offers the same view (minus the tilt).

Aon Center, Chicago
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AON CENTER | CHICAGO

Height: 1,136 feet
The 83-story Aon Center was previously known as the Standard Oil Building, the world's tallest marble-covered building at its completion in 1974. The marble was later removed due to cracks and instability, but the Aon Center, now Chicago's third-tallest structure and covered in white granite, is still a sight to behold.

Bank of America Tower, New York
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BANK OF AMERICA TOWER | NEW YORK

Height: 1,200 feet
Opposite Bryant Park, the Bank of America Tower stands 55 stories. It houses more than 2 million square feet of office space and is renowned for its green architecture, including an Urban Garden Room on the ground floor with living plant sculptures that's free to visit.

Empire State Building, New York
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EMPIRE STATE BUILDING | NEW YORK

Height: 1,250 feet
This treasure of midtown Manhattan needs no introduction. Unfortunately the prices are as high as the spire. Tickets to the main deck on the 86th floor cost $37 for adults; a pass that includes admission to the deck on the 102nd story (the building's highest) costs $57. Children's ticket prices are $31 and $51, respectively.

Trump International Hotel and Tower, Chicago
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TRUMP INTERNATIONAL HOTEL AND TOWER | CHICAGO

Height: 1,389 feet
This gleaming part-condo, part-commercial tower with hotel rooms, three restaurants, and a spa was designed to fit in with Chicago's existing skyline, with each of its three "steps" matching the height of nearby buildings. Despite being one of the tallest in the country, at 98 stories, the building offers only one way for the public to take in a view: an outdoor restaurant on the 16th floor — so, less than a fifth of the way up.

432 Park Avenue, New York
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432 PARK AVENUE | NEW YORK

Height: 1,396 feet
To see the tallest residential building in the world, head to Park Avenue and East 56th Street in New York, where 432 Park Avenue holds 104 condominiums. The 85-story tower is taller than the Empire State Building, but to see the view, you have to know someone on the inside.

Willis Tower in Chicago
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WILLIS TOWER | CHICAGO

Height: 1,451 feet
The Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) is 108 stories, but its Skydeck Observatory and famous glass-bottom balconies are on the 103rd floor. Visitors get views of the Chicago area and Lake Michigan and, on a clear day, even a peek at Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Admission is $24 for adults and $16 for kids. If you have the nerve, step onto the glass ledge that lets you "float" 1,353 feet above the ground

One World Trade Center, New York
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ONE WORLD TRADE CENTER | NEW YORK

Height: 1,776 feet
With 104 stories rising a symbolic 1,776 feet, One World Trade Center has officially been the tallest skyscraper in America since its completion in 2012. The One World Observatory on floors 100 to 102 of the tower offer panoramic views of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey starting at $34 for adults and $28 for children. There are online 2-for-1 Tuesday deals for MasterCard holders. 

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