Landmark Buildings Destroyed In Movies

Certain impressive, usually distinctive, buildings are famous all over the world. In many cases, these well-known pieces of architecture become synonymous with the town city or nation in which they are situated – the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Empire State Building in New York, or the Opera House in Sydney.

These instantly recognizable structures act as a focal point for tourism and business, a demonstration of the achievements of the place in which they are located. These, often iconic, structures are ideal tools for filmmakers who want to make the viewer aware of where the action in a movie takes place. So it is no surprise that many of the world’s most famous buildings have been prominently featured in films – the Petronas Towers in Entrapment or the Empire State in King Kong.

Becoming a location indicator in a film is therefore an honor, a testament to the fame the building has achieved. In disaster films, the desire to demonstrate the power of nature, or invaders, across the world has led to much of the planet’s most famous architecture being destroyed – and perhaps this is the greatest honor.

Buildings Destroyed in Movies in New York

New York is home to some of the world’s most famous buildings so it is no surprise that the city has formed the backdrop to numerous disasters and alien invasions that have left the city in ruins.

Empire State Building – America’s most famous building has featured in over one hundred films. None, however, was more spectacular than its appearance its destruction by aliens in Independence Day.

Chrysler Building – 1998 was a bad year for this former world’s tallest building. It was accidentally blown up by the US military in Godzilla before being hit by a meteor strike in Armageddon.

Met Life Building – This building narrowly avoids a meteor in the film Armageddon but cannot escape destruction as Godzilla walks straight through it.

Other American Buildings Destroyed in Films

The White House – The most important building in the US was dramatically and memorably blown to pieces in Independence Day.

US Bank Tower – A popular West Coast target, this building had the honor of being the site of the first alien attack in Independence Day. It also fell victim to a tornado in the Day After Tomorrow and an earthquake in 2012.

Capital Records – This distinctive building is another moviemaker’s favorite, featuring in both the Day after Tomorrow and the Independence Day.

Golden Gate Bridge – Since the tragic attack on the World Trade Center, this bridge has become a favorite target. The best of these appearances came in X-Men 3 when the bridge was picked up and thrown at Alcatraz.

Buildings Outside of America Destroyed in Films

Eiffel Tower – The symbol of Paris is a popular choice for filmmakers, another victim of Armageddon the tower was memorably felled in GI Joe.

The Houses of Parliament –V achieves what Guy Faulkes failed to do by spectacularly blowing up the seat of the English government in V for Vendetta.

Millennium Bridge- Stirling Prize winner Norman Foster’s bridge is destroyed by Lord Voldemort’s Death Eaters in Harry Potter Half-Blood Prince.

There is no better way for a movie to demonstrate just how serious a situation is, or how powerful an enemy is than destroying a well-known, large-scale landmark. The buildings chosen for this task need to be globally recognizable. Thus playing a starring role in a disaster film is an incredible honor that recognizes the fame certain buildings have achieved,

The History Of America’s Tallest Buildings

The construction of the world’s first skyscraper, the Chicago’s Home Insurance Building in 1885, began a new era in the development of the modern city. Although the earliest skyscrapers were built in Chicago, high land prices in Manhattan soon led to New York becoming the home of the skyscraper.

Since 1885 all but two of the buildings that have held the title of America’s tallest building have been situated in either New York or Chicago.

  1. 1885- 1890 Home Insurance Building, 180 ft. (Chicago)
  2. 1890- 1894 New York World Building, 309 ft. (New York)
  3. 1894- 1895 Manhattan Life Insurance Building, 348 ft. (New York)
  4. 1895- 1899 Milwaukee City Hall, 353 ft. (Milwaukee)
  5. 1899- 1901 Park Row, 391 ft. (New York)
  6. 1901- 1908 Philadelphia City Hall, 548 ft. (Philadelphia)
  7. 1908- 1909 Singer Building, 612 ft. (New York)
  8. 1909- 1913 New York Metropolitan Life Insurance Building, 700 ft. (New York)
  9. 1913- 1930 Woolworth Building, 792 ft. (New York)
  10. 1930- 1930 40 Wall Street, 927 ft. (New York)
  11. 1930- 1931 Chrysler Building, 1,046 ft. (New York)
  12. 1931- 1971 Empire State, 1,250 ft. (New York)
  13. 1972- 1974 World Trade Center, 1,368 ft. (New York)
  14. 1974- Present Sears Tower (Willis Tower), 1,451 ft. (Chicago)

Throughout the 20th Century, both cities continued to expand and grew upwards, however it was New York that leads the way, as successive buildings on Manhattan Island claimed the honor of being America’s tallest building.

The title passed between some of New York’s most famous buildings, including the Empire State and World Trade Center, before the construction of the Sears Tower (now known as the Willis Tower) in 1974. This building reclaimed the honor for Chicago, the birthplace of the skyscraper, and the Second City’s most famous landmark still holds the title of America’s tallest building today.

America’s Top Ten Tallest Buildings

  1. 1,451 ft. Willis Tower (Sears Tower)- Chicago
  2. 1,362 ft. Trump International Hotel known for 777 casino– Chicago
  3. 1,250 ft. Empire State Building- New York
  4. 1,200 ft. Bank of America Tower- New York
  5. 1,136 ft. Aon Center- Chicago
  6. 1,127 ft. John Hancock Center- Chicago
  7. 1,046 ft. Chrysler Building- New York
  8. 1,046 ft. New York Times Building- New York
  9. 1,023 ft. Bank of America Plaza- Atlanta
  10. 1,018 ft. U.S. Bank Tower- Los Angeles

Today, over a hundred years after the birth of the skyscraper, two American cities still dominate the list of America’s tallest buildings, as eight out of the top ten are found in New York or Chicago.

America’s Tallest Building – The Future

With a whole host of tall structures in various stages of construction and design, the list looks set to change dramatically in the next five years.

Ever since the construction of the Home Insurance building two American cities have become synonymous with the skyscraper. For over one hundred years America’s tallest building has been located almost exclusively in Chicago, the birthplace of the skyscraper, and New York, the home of the skyscraper. These two cities look set to continue their dominance, and rivalry, as both continue to construct increasingly tall buildings.

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