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The term “skyscraper” was created in 1893, as onlookers were amazed by the growth of high-rise buildings in New York and Chicago. Modern-day skyscrapers have at least 10 floors. Whether used for residential or business purposes, steel framework and curtain walls are common elements of the building’s construction.

Architect Elisha Graves Otis masterminded a safety item to help ensure the stabilization and safety of elevator passengers, even if a cable broke. Safety mechanisms, combined with the use of electric motors, were more feasible later in the 19th century.

Anecdotal information featuring the cities of Chicago and New York leaves insights regarding the thinking of citizens and institutions. A number of proactive and reactive initiatives have taken place since King Louis XV used the innovation of an elevator.

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 created a mandate that required architects to develop more durable structures. Advancing to metal-frame construction, Louis Henri Sullivan (dubbed the father of skyscrapers) designed the Schiller Building in Chicago in 1891 and others later that decade in other cities, including the Bayard Building in New York (1897). Sullivan’s work was consistent with his motto, “form follows function.”

The housing project known as Cabrini-Green took 20 years to build and was the subject of or featured in many movies and television programs including “Good Times,” in which the Evan family members were Cabrini-Green residents. For a number of crime-, sanitation- and poverty-related reasons, Cabrini-Green received national attention as the poster child for all that was wrong with the public housing high rises. In 1981, the current Chicago mayor, Jane Byrne, moved into Cabrini-Green to call attention to and help solve the horrendous and dangerous living conditions. The last building was torn down in 2011. Since then, new Cabrini-Green-area buildings were redeveloped into a neighborhood featuring mixed-income multicultural residents, a new shopping center, and more. The last building was demolished in 2011 and row houses for economically diverse residents should be complete in 2025, ending the legacy of Cabrini-Green high rises.