To mark Skyscraper Day on Sept. 3, Roof Gnome ranked 2023’s Tallest Cities in America.
We compared over 780 U.S. cities and territories based on the total number of buildings rising at least 12 stories. Bonus points were awarded to cities based on their numbers of 150-plus-, 200-plus-, and 300-plus-meter skyscrapers.
See how the tallest concrete jungles in the U.S. stack up in our ranking below. To learn how we ranked the cities, see our methodology.
Check out the slideshow below for key stats on each of our five tallest cities.
It’s a common assumption that the tallest U.S. cities are also the most populated. Although that’s largely true when considering the cities with skyscrapers rising at least 300 meters (roughly 984 feet), multiple cities with shorter skyscrapers of at least 150 meters (roughly 492 feet) count among them.
New York City is a foregone conclusion at No. 1 overall. However, much smaller cities like Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, and Fort Lee, New Jersey, are bigger surprises at No. 20 and No. 48, respectively.
Mostly small cities and towns landed at the bottom of our ranking, making up the “Shortest” tall cities in America.
Unreachable Big Apple
New York Citytopped out across all four metrics, earning a perfect score. Topping The Big Apple by number of built high-rises — over 5,900 as of 2023 — would be a tall order for any city. Even Chicago in 2nd place couldn’t catch up anytime soon, with only a fifth (over 1,200) the number of high-rises in New York.
Tallest of the Giants
Of the 55 cities with built skyscrapers at least 150 meters high, only 7 rise at least 300 meters. New York (No. 1 overall) has the most at 16, over double the number in Chicago (No. 2) with 7. The other 5 cities have 2 at most.
Shortest of the Giants
Tied for last place overall are 230 cities, each with only 1 high-rise of at least 12 stories.
Saturated With Height
Of the cities with more than 1 completed tall building, Chicago (No. 2 overall) has the highest percentage of buildings rising at least 12 stories at 98.8%. Vancouver, Washington (tied for last place overall), has the lowest at 3.7%.
Tallest Little City
Sunny Isles Beach, Florida (No. 20 overall), might be a modest city of just over 22,200 residents, but it’s earned its seat at the table of big and tall U.S. skylines. The growing resort destination boasts 13 skyscrapers reaching at least 150 meters and 1 at least 200 meters (about 656 feet). There are 74 total completed buildings rising 12+ stories in the city.
Smallest of the Tallest
Although Sunny Isles Beach, Florida (No. 20 overall), stands among the 20 tallest behemoths in our ranking, it’s by no means the smallest by population. Of the 55 cities with at least 1 skyscraper rising 150+ meters, Cape Canaveral, Florida (No. 86), is the least populated with just under 10,000 residents. Cape Canaveral has 1 such building, giving it an extra boost over the other cities with just 1 high-rise with 12+ floors.
The World’s Littlest Skyscraper
While neither the tallest nor the shortest U.S. city, Wichita Falls, Texas (tied for 336th place), can at least claim to have “The World’s Littlest Skyscraper.” The actual structure, Newby-McMahon Building, doesn’t fit the accepted definition of a high-rise at just 40 feet tall. However, it earned the title based on the original plan to build the structure to a height of 480 feet. That ended in scandal — and a significantly shorter “skyscraper.”
Too Short to Ride (Higher)
Washington stands at a respectable No. 27 overall, but it may never grow taller. That’s because of the Height of Buildings Act of 1910, which restricts the height of buildings on commercial streets in the District of Columbia to 130 feet (or 160 feet on parts of Pennsylvania Avenue). Many believe buildings in DC can’t be taller than the Capitol Dome, National Cathedral, or Washington Monument, but that is a myth.
Top 10 Tallest Completed Buildings in the U.S.
10 Tallest Buildings Under Construction in the U.S.
10 Tallest Buildings in the World
Behind the Ranking
First, we determined the factors (metrics) that are most relevant to rank the Tallest Cities in America. We then assigned a weight to each factor based on its importance. The factors and their weights are listed in the table below.
For each of 882 U.S. cities, we then gathered data on each factor from the sources listed below the table. We eliminated any city lacking at least one high-rise — defined as a structure with at least 12 stories — resulting in a final sample size of 783 cities.
Finally, we calculated scores (out of 100 points) for each city to determine its rank in each factor, each category, and overall. A city’s Overall Score is the average of its scores across all factors and categories. The highest Overall Score ranked “Tallest” (No. 1).
The “Shortest” among individual factors may not be No. 783 due to ties.
Buildings include both commercial and residential structures.
Sources: Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat and SkyscraperPage.com
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Richie Bernardo is a managing editor who previously wrote about personal finance and immigration. Philippine-born, Kansas City-bred, and barbecue-fed, Richie enjoys baking, deal hunting, and binging “Ancient Aliens.”