"Skyscraper, skyscraper, scrape me some sky," demands writer Dennis Lee in his famous children's poem about buildings that soar upward to "tickle" the sun and stars. It takes lots of skyscrapers tickling the aerial heights to form glorious skylines that twinkle in the night, loom above fog and jut up unexpectedly from beach and plain. Attempting to identify the best skylines in the world is problematic, because so many are beauties.
Born in the U.S.A.
In an introductory interview to Judith Dupré's book, Skyscrapers, one of America's most famous architects, Philip Johnson, declared skyscrapers a "uniquely American art form" that has spread around the world. Johnson asserted that the worldwide expansion of towering skylines is more an expression of power than of limited building space.
Although analyses of top skylines are, at least, partially based on quantifiable matters such as number and height of skyscrapers, emotional connections to familiar, favorite or iconic views influence choices for some websites. Yet certain cities recur in lists of top skylines. Here are five.
Dubai City, Dubai
Popular Science declared the Burj Khalifa tower of the United Arab Emirate of Dubai the winner of the magazine's 2010 Grand Award for engineering. At exactly 2,716.5 feet tall, it has 160 floors and is 1,000 feet higher than the next tallest skyscraper in the world, the Taipei 101. The setting of Dubai's skyline is a dramatic combination of desert and the ocean waters of the Persian Gulf. CNN Go rates the skyline as the twelfth out of its top 20, mostly due to the shiny, needle-shaped Burj Khalifa. Business Insider magazine votes it eighth out of 25, while Emporis gives the city a stellar seventh out of 100 top sites.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, has one of the shiniest night skylines in the world due to its glowing twins, the Petronas Towers, which CNN Go likens to "chandelier earrings." It is Emporis that gives Kuala Lumpur the highest ranking, at sixteenth place out of 100.
San Francisco, California
San Francisco is the smallest of the cities visited here, with a population less than 900,000. Although Emporis places it in the middle of its pack and Business Insider doesn't mention it at all, CNN Go gives it fifth place. This is where the rule of emotional connections trumps numbers of buildings and floors. It's hard to forget a view of the city's skyline that includes the brilliant orange towers and suspension cables of the Golden Gate Bridge.
New York City, New York
The New York City skyline is second only to Hong Kong on most lists of top skylines. A ferry ride in New York Bay offers the opportunity for simultaneous views of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline, which is a grand sight for tourists if not for jaded commuters. Viewed from the outer boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn, CNN Go says, the Empire State and Chrysler buildings look like magnificent goal posts.
Hong Kong's skyline is a big, bright riot of colors at night and the best of the best, according to Emporis, CNN Go and Business Insider. The skyscrapers are so numerous that they climb the densely populated island's hillsides, scraping a whole lot of sky along the way.