Skyline Tour of the USA

Leave a comment

City Skylines in the United States

There are hundreds of skylines in the United States that leave lasting impressions. This list names the top 10 most impressive based on the number of skyscrapers within the city limits, which reach a minimum height for maximum visual impact of 300 feet. These skylines are in a league of their own and contain a variety of skyscrapers that would draw the attention of any casual onlooker. There is a certain wow factor one experiences when entering a city with a skyline such as this. Seeing the sheer scale of man’s innovation while maneuvering toward and through the steel and concrete canyons makes us realize just how small we are and ultimately takes our breath away.

10. Las Vegas, NV


Sin City topped other behemoths like Boston and Seattle, not by height, but by sheer quantity. With 63 structures that meet the standard height of 300+ feet, the Las Vegas skyline shines bright above 91 others in the nation. The Palazzo at 642 feet, the Encore at 631 feet, the Trump International Hotel and Tower at 622 feet, Wynn Las Vegas at 614 feet, and New York, New York at 529 feet are some of its more notable skyscrapers. These massive casino/hotel towers don’t resemble traditional skyscrapers but the skyline they create cannot be denied. The Las Vegas skyline may not fit the mold, but it is still a magnificent site to see. Other structures that add to its prominence are the Stratosphere Observation Tower at 1,149 feet and the Fontainebleau Resort Hotel, which although incomplete, has been topped out at 735 feet.

9. Philadelphia, PA


The City of Brotherly Love boasts an awesome spectacle for a skyline, wowing any onlooker who turns that corner on I-76 and gets their first glimpse. Coming in at #9, it has 78 structures that meet the standard. Its most notable skyscrapers are the Comcast Center at 974 feet, One and Two Liberty Place at 945 feet and 848 feet, Mellon Bank Center at 792 feet, and Bell Atlantic Tower at 739 feet. The twin towers, One and Two Commerce Square at 565 feet each, also add a nice touch. Philly had a gem in the works with the planned 1,500 foot tower American Commerce Center, but what would have been the 2nd tallest building in the nation was cancelled. Several new skyscrapers are under construction though with one, the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center, having a planned height of 1,121 feet. Philadelphia is definitely on the rise.

8. Dallas, TX


The 2nd largest skyline in Texas one-ups Philadelphia by height alone and currently sits comfortably at #8. With 69 structures that meet the standard (9 less than Philly) it has 19 skyscrapers that stand 500+ feet, compared with 11 for Philadelphia. It’s most impressiveare the Bank of America Plaza, standing 921 feet and brilliantly lit with green argon lights at night, Renaissance Tower at 886 feet, Comerica Bank Tower at 787 feet, JP Morgan Chase Tower at 738 feet, and Fountain Place at 720 feet. Other skyscrapers worthy of a second glance are the Trammell Crow Center at 686 feet, 1700 Pacific at 655 feet, and Thanksgiving Tower at 645 feet. Regardless of its position on this list, Dallas has one of the more dazzling skylines in the nation.

7. Atlanta, GA


Although its skyline is spread out along the I-75 corridor, making it difficult to view all at once, Atlanta handily tops Dallas. It mimics New York City (albeit on a significantly smaller scale) by having multiple skylines in both downtown and midtown settings. It currently has 85 structures that meet the standard, with 17 of those standing 500+ feet, and boasts the tallest building in the South with its impressive Bank of America Plaza at 1,023 feet. SunTrust Plaza and midtown’s One Atlantic Center are its other two most impressive, standing 871 and 820 feet respectively. Other notable skyscrapers are 191 Peachtree Tower at 770 feet, the cylindrical Westin Peachtree Plaza, once the tallest hotel in the world at 723 feet, and the Georgia Pacific Tower at 697 feet. Atlanta truly is the New York City of the South.

6. Los Angeles, CA


The City of Angels has a massive dense cluster of skyscrapers in downtown that make up the one of the most elegant skylines in the nation. However, it still only registers at #6. It tops its predecessors though through a combination of both quantity and height. It only has 79 structures that meet the standard (5 less than Atlanta) but 22 of those stand 500+ feet and more impressively, 8 of these stand 700+ feet. It also boasts the tallest building west of the Mississippi River in the 1,018 foot US Bank Tower. It’s second tallest, Aon Center, stands 858 feet and its 700 footers include Two California Plaza (750), Gas Company Tower (749), Bank of America Plaza (735),  777 Tower (725), Wells Fargo Tower (723), and Figueroa at Wilshire. This equates to a truly amazing west coast skyline that will leave any onlooker in awe.

Side note:  Los Angeles does has a so-called ace in the hole, which could move it up to the #5 spot. The Wilshire Grand Tower is currently under construction and due for completion in 2017 with a planned height of 1,250 feet. This would make it the tallest building in the nation outside of New York and Chicago.

5. San Francisco, CA


The largest city in the bay area of Northern California doesn’t have skyscrapers as tall as those in its four predecessors, but it does have109 structures that meet the standard, 18 of those being 500+ feet in height. Those that stand out on its skyline are the Transamerica Pyramid at 853 feet, 555 California Street at 779 feet, and 345 California Street at 724 feet. Two recent editions to the skyline’s prominence are Millennium Tower at 645 feet and One Rincon Hill South Tower at 605 feet. Two other skyscrapers under construction, Salesforce Tower and 181 Fremont, scheduled for completion in 2018 and 2016 with planned heights of 1,070 feet and 802 feet respectively, could keep San Fran in its spot on this list. Will San Francisco maintain its claim to the greatest skyline in the West or will its big sister to the south bump it out?

4. Miami, FL


The Magic City has a true skyline. Where other cities seem more like sky clusters, Miami boasts a string of jaw-dropping skyscrapers, 105 in total that meet the standard, 28 of which stand 500+ feet, which run along the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean in South Florida. It defeats the previous 6 skylines in this manner, since the city’s tallest, Four Seasons Hotel and Tower, stands only 789 feet in height. Other impressive skyscrapers include the Wachovia Financial Center at 764 feet, 900 Biscayne Bay at 712 feet, and the Marquis at 679 feet. Miami is also continuing to grow, with ten more 500+ foot skyscrapers under construction, including the soon-to-be tallest in the city, Panorama Tower, with a scheduled completion date in 2017 and a planned height of 822 feet. The 990 foot observation tower, SkyRise Miami, is also under construction and due for completion in 2016. Although it won’t add points to the score, it will nevertheless be another beautiful addition to the Miami skyline.

3. Houston, TX


Some calculations place Miami ahead of Houston but that is a long stretch considering Houston registers 127 structures that meet the standard. An amazing 32 of these are 500+ feet and an even more astonishing 10 are 700+ feet. Houston’s skyline is both dense and sparse, with numerous skyscrapers spread out over the city. Although it has multiple skylines, the vast majority of its skyscrapers stand in downtown. Its two giants, 600 Travis Street (aka JP Morgan Chase Tower) at 1,002 feet and Wells Fargo Plaza at 992 feet, stand prominently over the Central Business District, staring at each other over the tops of their fellow towers. These include the 700 footers Bank of America Center (780), Heritage Plaza (762), Enterprise Plaza (756), and Centerpoint Energy Plaza (741). The wow factor doesn’t stop in downtown though. As we venture toward the Galleria District, another giant quickly comes into view. Williams Tower, at 901 feet, is the tallest building in the nation outside of a central business district.Houston is definitely where it belongs on this list. Its magnificent skyline makes it the second city in the Lone Star State to crack the top 10, proving that everything really is bigger in Texas.

2. Chicago, IL


The Windy City has one of the most amazing skylines in the world and sits at #2 in the nation. It practically triples Houston with an astounding 377 structures that meet the standard. As awesome as it is, it still falls well short of the #1 spot. Despite this, anyone visiting Chicago will be awestruck by the sheer size of its skyline. 5 of its skyscrapers top the 1,000 foot mark (only one other city in the nation has more than one) with its tallest, Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) reaching 1,451 feet. Upon completion in 1974, it became and remained the tallest building in the world for almost a quarter century. Another 107 of its structures are 500+ feet with 18 of these topping 700+ feet. Chicago’s most famous skyscrapers are the John Hancock Center, standing 1,128 feet with 100 floors, the Aon Center at 1,136 feet, and the spectacular Trump International Hotel & Tower at 1,388 feet. It may never reach the top spot, but will continue to be a breathtaking spectacle nevertheless.

1. New York City, NY


When we’re talking about the greatest skylines in the nation, everyone knows who takes the top spot. If Chicago stands head and shoulders above every other city on this list then New York City does the same to Chicago. Not only is it #1 in the nation, it arguably has the most impressive skyline in the world. It more than doubles Chicago in the number of qualifying structures, with 864, 222 of which stand 500+ feet. Of these, 43 stand 700+ feet and 7 top the 1,000 foot mark. It’s most recent thousand footer, 432 Park Avenue, is not yet complete but topped out at 1,398 feet. The skyline took a huge blow on 9/11/01 when it lost its two tallest, but has since bounced back with five more additions that significantly add to its prominence. These are New York Times Tower (2007/1,046 feet), Bank of America Tower (2009/1,200 feet), One 57 (2014/1,005 feet), Four World Trade Center (2014/975 feet), and One World Trade Center (2014/1,776 feet).

Skyline Tour of the USA

Historic Moments Caught on Film – Before the Cellphone

Leave a comment

WIF History-001

Famous Moments

Caught on Film

While literally hundreds of millions of miles of film and videotape has been shot over the last century, very little of it provides any impact or lasting memory. However, occasionally a piece of celluloid is produced that captures some significant historical event in real time, creating a type of time capsule that transcends the years.  It may be only a few seconds in length, but it provides us with a glimpse of history in the making, which is pretty cool. Unfortunately, most of these events are tragic in nature, but each is important to our understanding of the past and, as such, worth remembering. So here’s our list of the top 10 pieces of celluloid that have made film history.

10. Japanese Surrender Ceremony

In contrast to the fiery spectacular footage of the Battleship Arizonaexploding (which we’ll get to later)—effectively capturing the opening salvoes of America’s involvement in World War II—another far more sedate piece of footage captures the war’s final moment, shot just three years later in Tokyo Bay, Japan. Taken on September 2, 1945 by an unnamed Navy photographer, the footage shows the arrival of representatives of the Japanese military and government onboard the battleship Missouri—then securely anchored in Tokyo Bay—to surrender to the allied powers. Though only a few minutes in length and about as exciting as a high school graduation ceremony, it shows a remarkably anticlimactic ending to the bloodiest war in history, which in itself makes it among the most important pieces of celluloid in history.

What’s especially interesting about it is the contrast between the Japanese and allied representatives. Whereas the Japanese are decked out in their most dazzling formal best—complete with medals, derbies, and tuxedos—the allies are dressed in their everyday uniforms that would be considered too frumpy for a trip to Walmart. Apparently the allies wanted to portray the surrender ceremony as no big deal and to that end managed to keep it about as exciting as macramé. One still gets the chills from watching it, however, especially once one considers the extraordinary historical significance of the moment and how the Japanese managed to somehow look proud even at the moment of their country’s greatest humiliation.

9. Apollo 11 Landing

One might imagine that landing on the moon would make for some spectacular film footage, but one would be wrong. Mounted on the bottom of the descending lunar module, when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin sat Eagle One down on the surface of the moon that July day in 1969, all one could make out as the vehicle drew close to the surface was a blurry white screen and little else. It’s the narrative that accompanies the footage, however, that makes it exciting.

Having trouble finding a landing spot and only seconds away from having to scrub the landing due to fuel constraints, the voice of the astronauts counting off the remaining distance to the surface is spellbinding—even if one can’t see much. The payoff comes from the cloud of dust and the emerging shadow from the landing pads as the Eagle finally sets down on the lunar surface, marking man’s first physical contact with another planet and making the wait worthwhile. While some might argue that footage of the men actually walking about the surface is more deserving of notice, we submit it was the perilous and historical nature of the descent itself that is the stuff of legend.

8. Hindenburg Explosion

Aviation disasters were rarely caught on film—especially in the early days of flying—but what happened on May 6, 1937 changed all that. As the German dirigible Hindenburg—then making its maiden flight of the 1937 season—approached the mooring mast at Lakehurst, New Jersey, hundreds of spectators and ground crew were astonished to see flame suddenly erupt from just forward of the massive ship’s tail and quickly engulf the entire vessel as its 8 million cubic feet of highly flammable hydrogen ignited. Within twenty seconds it was all over, with one of the greatest air ships of all time reduced to a fiery tangle of collapsing aluminum girders, and all of it caught on four different cameras—the footage of which is often spliced together to give a sense that it was all part of a single piece of film.

Most imagined at the time that none of the 97 passengers and crew onboard could have survived such a fiery disaster, but remarkably most managed to escape the flames and run to safety as the vessel gently settled to the ground. What makes the footage especially significant, however, is that it records the end of an era in aviation history—the use of dirigibles as passenger carriers. As a result of the disaster, airships were deemed unsafe and overnight an entire industry died—all because of a bit of static electricity and an untimely tear in a hydrogen cell.

7. Patterson Bigfoot Film

Undoubtedly one of the most controversial bits of celluloid in existence is the sixty seconds of footage Roger Patterson (1933-1972) shot of what appears to be a seven-foot-tall hairy primate near Bluff Creek, California on October 20, 1967. The footage, which starts out very shaky because Patterson was initially running towards the creature with the camera on, eventually settles down enough to provide twelve seconds of the most remarkable footage in zoological history.

While other photos and snippets of footage have been made of “Bigfoot” before and since, none are as clear or have been studied as extensively as Patterson’s footage which clearly shows—depending upon one’s predilections—either a “guy in a monkey suit” or a massive primate unknown to science. What’s perhaps most unique about the footage is that it appears the creature has large pendulous breasts—causing some to nickname her “Patty” as a result—which would seem to be a bit of unwieldy over-engineering were one intent upon orchestrating a simple hoax. Additionally, fakes are usually easy to spot, making the fact that the footage is still being hotly debated today a good argument for its authenticity.

6. Iwo Jima Flag Raising

When marines and sailors went about the fairly routine task of raising a flag on the summit of Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945, they unwittingly found themselves immortalized—not just for their deeds, but for their excellent sense of timing and composition. In effect, when they raised a second flag over the summit (the first flag raised earlier was considered too small and was replaced by a larger one) they unwittingly became part of one of the most recognized photos in history (or, at very least, of World War II). Unfortunately, three of the men in the photo would be killed in action over the next few days, but the three survivors would go on to become unexpected celebrities for their bit of impromptu flag raising.

The photo, taken by AP photographer Joe Rosenthal (1911-2006), was not without its controversy, however. Later asked if the photo had been staged, Rosenthal—misunderstanding that the query was for the famous shot and not the later group shot around the raised flag—admitted that it had been, diminishing the photo’s pedigree. Fortunately, a film camera set up next to Rosenthal and operated by Marine Corp photographer Bill Genaust (1907-1945) was filming at the same time and from the near identical angle, demonstrating Rosenthal’s photo to have been truly spontaneous, thereby restoring its luster. In any case, the Rosenthal photo and Genaust’s footage are clearly among the most important pieces of visual history ever recorded and deserve to make this list.

5. Ronald Reagan Shooting

As with the Zapruder film (we’ll get to that soon), America almost got to witness the death of a second sitting president when on the morning of March 30, 1981, a gunman by the name of John Hinckley opened fire on newly elected president Ronald Reagan and his entourage as they left the Washington Hilton Hotel. The incident, which was captured by several news cameras but was probably caught best by the crew from ABC, shows Hinckley—in a delusional effort to impress actress Jody Foster—unleashing a volley of shots, most of which managed to find targets including, due to an errant ricochet, the president himself.

Though it was initially believed that the president was not hit, once the motorcade sped away from the scene, Reagan began complaining of chest pains and coughing up blood, the result of taking a single round to the lung. Quickly rushed to George Washington Hospital to undergo emergency surgery, he recovered and returned to full time duties a few weeks later. The same could not be said for his press secretary, James Brady, who received a head wound that left him an invalid for the rest of his life. Hinckley was eventually found not guilty by reason of insanity—a verdict that did not sit well with the White House—and he remains alive and well to this day, years after several of his victims had passed on.

4. Challenger Space Shuttle Disaster

When the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after launch on January 28, 1985—killing all seven astronauts onboard—an entire nation was on hand to witness the event, making it one of the few videos of a major event shot live and witnessed by literally hundreds of thousands of people as it happened. What made it even more memorable—aside from the fact that it ended the life of the young and exuberant Christa McAllife (the first teacher in space)—was how unexpected it was. After having watched dozens of rocket and shuttle launches over the previous two decades, people had become complacent about the dangers inherent to launching rockets, but the sudden explosion of Challenger as it arched its way into a perfect Florida sky changed that perception forever.

The cause of the explosion was determined to be a faulty “O” ring design on the solid fuel booster rockets that allowed hot plasma to escape and scorch the massive fuel tank it was attached to. Quickly redesigned, the accident at least had the benefit of making the shuttle safer as a result. Not necessarily a fair trade for the lives of seven astronauts, but at least their families could find some solace in the fact that their deaths were not in vain.

3. Battleship Arizona Explosion

Of all the sights and sounds of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, none are as unforgettable as that of the 30,000 ton battleship Arizona blowing up as a result of a bomb hit in her forward powder magazine. The blast, which killed more than 1,000 men (nearly two thirds of the men onboard her), was somehow captured on 8mm film by an Army doctor visiting a nearby hospital ship, who somehow had the presence of mind to start filming the attack in its earliest moments. Filming a formation of Japanese bombers as they slowly approached battleship row and dropped their deadly ordnance, he somehow managed to capture the precise second the fatal bomb exploded deep within the battleship’s interior.

What the footage shows is a spectacular fireball spewing upwards from the forward area of the ship, incinerating  everything and everyone inside the hull forward of midships and even causing the superstructure itself to rise thirty feet into the air before collapsing into the raging inferno below it. The blast not only killed most of the crew, but also took the lives of both the ship’s captain and an admiral, Isaac C. Kidd. Perhaps one of the most spectacular and violent pieces of film footage ever recorded, it has since been colorized, bringing out more details and making the footage even more horrific, if such were possible. The gutted hulk of the Arizona remains where it sank to this day, serving as a monument to those who died onboard her and reminding everyone of the importance of being prepared.

2. World Trade Center First Aircraft Strike

There are literally thousands of photos and numerous film and videotapes of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, all of which manage to capture the destruction from every conceivable angle. However, there is only one that shows the precise moment the entire nightmare began. In one of those cases of being in exactly the right place at precisely the right time, French cameraman Jules Naudet was filming a group of New York firefighters responding to a car fire as part of a documentary when the men heard the sound of a low flying jet passing overhead.

Realizing that the plane was flying entirely too low over Manhattan, Naudet had the presence of mind to pan his camera in the direction of the airliner just in time to capture it slam into the 94th floor of the north tower at over 400 miles an hour, killing all 92 crew and passengers onboard along with hundreds of people inside the building. The footage was soon being shown around the world and quickly came to be considered one of the most spectacular and historically (as well as forensically) important pieces of footage every shot. Of course, the later second plane strike on the south tower and the collapse of both structures are equally horrific and important, but there was only one bit of film that captured in graphic detail how it all began, making it the premier piece among a sea of 9/11 footage.

1. JFK Assassination

Perhaps the most gruesome piece on this list is that captured by Dallas clothing manufacturer Abraham Zapruder (1905-1970) on November 22, 1963. Hoping to get a close-up shot of the President’s motorcade as it wound its way through the Dealey Plaza that afternoon, Zapruder found a concrete pedestal in front of the Schoolbook Depository building from which he would have the perfect angle. What he caught in those 26 seconds of filming proved to be one of the seminal events of the twentieth century: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy as he was cut down by gunfire from the very building behind him, leaving an entire generation scarred by the event, the effects of which continue to linger to this day.

Of course, Zapruder wasn’t the only person to have captured images of the assassination that day, but his is the clearest and most graphic of the bunch. The most horrific frame is frame 313, which actually records the precise second the president is struck in the head—an event which occurred no more than thirty feet away from the man. It also captures the subsequent heartbreaking effort by Jackie Kennedy to crawl out of the car as it speeds away and her being saved from falling off the back of the vehicle by the quick actions of a secret service agent who managed to climb onto the back of the vehicle just in time. Zapruder subsequently sold the rights to the footage to Life Magazine for a purported $150,000—quite a substantial amount at the time—and it has since become enshrined in America’s traumatized collective memory and went on to become the basis for an entire cottage industry of conspiracy theories that have been going strong ever since.

Historic Moments Caught on Film

– Before the Cellphone

The WABAC Machine – 26 Feb. 1993

Leave a comment


The Wayback Machine

The WABAC Machine


A Brief History

On February 26, 1993, New Yorkers were shaken in their lunch booths by the explosion of a giant bomb!

A closer look……..

Digging deeper (through the rubble) we find the same Arab-Muslim gang of terrorists that perpetrated the September 11, 2001 attacks plotting to take down the World Trade Center, a target they saw as the heart of American capitalism in a city known for having a large Jewish population.

The plan was to make a giant 1300 pound bomb in a rented truck and park it in the basement parking garage where it was expected to topple one of the twin towers into the other one, completing their destruction.  The bomb consisted of mainly urea nitrate surrounding cylinders of compressed hydrogen, the idea being the hydrogen would greatly amplify the effects of the explosion.  The terrorists also used flammable metal particles packed around the bomb to enhance the incendiary effects as well.  The bomb was triggered by an initiating charge of gunpowder, nitroglycerine, ammonium nitrate and dynamite.  This type of construction would create a very powerful pushing effect that would be effective in blasting out concrete walls and create a tremendous amount of heat and fire to destroy evidence and further the destructive effect.

After the Ryder rented van was parked in the basement garage, the terrorists left and lit a 20 foot fuse.  Twelve minutes later, the bomb went off!  Tremendous damage was caused by the huge blast with a hole almost 100 feet across through 4 levels of concrete and steel!  The building, however, did not fall.  The plan included dense smoke choking survivors of the blast, and the smoke did permeate all the way to the 93rd floor, especially in the stairwells.  Luckily, although creating more confusion and making evacuation more difficult, the smoke did not have the deadly effect intended.

Six innocent people died in the blast, from age 36 to 61, the youngest of which was 7 months pregnant.  Over 1000 people were injured, and although the damage and death toll was high, it was a fraction of the intended results.  It is speculated that cyanide was included with the explosives in order to make the smoke more deadly and that the fiery blast destroyed the cyanide, but that has been unproven.

All but one of the perpetrators of this terrible attack were caught and convicted except one, who was allegedly being held in an Iraqi jail until he disappeared during the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.


 The WABAC Machine – 26 Feb. 1993