Housing Complex

The History of the High-Rise, in Verse

height imagined

The future of the high-rise in D.C.?

With potentially major changes to the Height Act on the way, it's worth taking a moment to consider what, exactly, we'd be getting if high- (or higher-) rise buildings came to the District. I could launch into an explanation of how steel-frame construction led cities to shoot upward, or how the gargantuan Cairo building on Q Street NW led to the implementation of the 1910 law to cap D.C. building heights. But I couldn't possibly encapsulate the full history of the high-rise in verse, or in song.

So I turn it over to the New York Times, which has done exactly that, in four parts. From mud huts to New York tenements to public housing projects to glassy condos, the Times ambitiously sums up the full, global history of tall buildings, rhyming all the way. Take it all in here.

Map via Google Maps; illustration by Aaron Wiener

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