Skyscrapers! by Elizabeth Schmermund

Skyscrapers! by Elizabeth Schmermund

Author:Elizabeth Schmermund
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Nomad Press


Many of today’s skyscrapers include an innovation called setbacks, also called step-backs. These are recessions in a wall that change the way weight is distributed in skyscrapers.

Imagine building a tower out of blocks. Is it easier to use the same size block going all the way up or is it easier to use a smaller and smaller size block the higher you get?

Ancient engineers discovered that they could make each level have a smaller footprint as they went higher. The building was then more balanced than if it was built straight up and down with no setbacks.


The Newby-McMahon Building in Wichita Falls, Texas, is known as the World’s Littlest Skyscraper. According to local legend, the structural engineer J.D. McMahon proposed to build a high-rise in 1919. He collected the equivalent of nearly $3 million to begin building, although he had no intention of building a skyscraper. Instead, McMahon built a much smaller building at about 40 feet tall and pocketed the rest of the money! Today, the small, four-story Newby-McMahon Building is considered a Texas Historic Landmark.


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