City Skylines

So, as Jakeline and I were driving into downtown Los Angeles this morning, we got into a discussion about the unique and readily-identifiable qualities of major cities’ skylines. For the record, neither of us feel that LA has a very distinctive skyline, but we could both pick it out of a lineup fairly easily because we’ve lived here all of our lives.

I haven’t traveled to too many big metropolitan areas in my life, but I’ve certainly hit a few (San Francisco, San Diego, St. Louis, Chicago, Phoenix, Dallas, Denver, Seattle, Portland and DC are the ones I can think of off the top of my head). I don’t know how many of those I would recognize from an anonymous photo, though. If it hasn’t already been done, I was thinking that would be an easy-to-make and entertaining online quiz.

At any rate, I guess I’m wondering what all of your opinions are on the distinctiveness of various skylines from the bigger cities in the country (and throughout the world, for that matter). Which of them do you think you could easily recognize, and why? And for those who have traveled a lot, are there cities that you think have very generic-looking skylines?

Personally, I think I’d have a very easy time picking out Chicago, New York (even though I haven’t been), Dallas and San Francisco.

Oh, and also, if anyone wants to link to cool photos of various skylines you want to point out, I’d appreciate it.

I would add Philly and Boston to the list of distictive skylines that you started.
(Hopefully these links works)


No distinctive skyline perhaps… or maybe too many possibilities for any to be really distinctive… not the great dependence on a “downtown” that there are in other large cities… we’ve got distinctive buildings, but they just aren’t part of a famous skyline.

A skyline with palm trees in the foreground, skyscrapers in the middle ground, and mountains in the background… beaches off to one side… hey, that’s LA! When the air is clear. Or maybe we should just acknowledge that that particular shade of brown is itself what make’s LA’s skyline distinctive.

Never been to LA, but I can pick out its skyline* (I quite like that round thing, whatever it’s called).

My home city of Sydney has a fairly recognizable one because of one or two prominent things, but my favourite view of it is from the west, and that’s never the postcard view because that slut the Opera House doesn’t get in it.
Melbourne’s skyline is pretty generic to me. This is odd, because some of the buildings are fantastic on their own, but somehow it all comes together as McSkyline.

Hong Kong is good because it’s unusual with the landscap dominating the skyscrapers rather than the other way around.
*Admittedly I might be cheating, because I’m a postal worker, and I’ve seen 32467687567462234655 postcards, so I could probably pick any major skyline in the world (and some of the minor ones).

Vancouver’s fairly distinctive.

Been there once.

Hijack: Came home with four stuffed bears all of which had claws and snouts and teeth. Teddy doesn’t live in Vancouver!

Yes, but does your city have the Golden Dome of Wigs? I thought not! :stuck_out_tongue:

Gives you an idea of the size of the place when the freakin Hilton is the fifth or sixth largest building. :wink:

Another view

This shot gives a better idea why I love this place: check out all that green!

More greenery. I can tell by the color of the trees that this picture was taken in the “dry season”, in high summer.

I personally could pick out the skyline of almost any city I’ve been to or seen enough pictures of (LA being the latter), but that’s because I’m a city skyline geek. There are still a lot that I wouldn’t recognize, though.

Random thought: St. Louis should be an easy one for most Americans as long as the Arch is included in the view.

It’s funny when you think of how different cities relate to their skylines.

Manhattan’s skyline is the skyline. Not “a”, the.

Los Angeles’ skyline is something that most of us who live here hardly ever see.

San Francisco has a nice skyline, and that distinctive pyramid, but I wouldn’t say it’s what people go to San Francisco to see.

In general skylines that grew up after WWII are pretty much the same–a handful of distinctive highrises among many more that are fairly nondescript.

I don’t think there are “recognizable skylines,” just individual recognizable buildings. Any recognizable skyline becomes unrecognizable if you remove that one building (or maybe a couple). Case in point: NYC with and without the World Trade Center.

Actually even that is not quite true. When New Yorkers say it, it is The Skyline. You can hear the Capitol letters. Just yesterday, I was talking with my wife and BIL about wandering The Park this week, and my wife quickly said "He means Central Park. My BIL said, of course he did, I new that. There are certain things about NYC that just on the emphatic shortcut language. The City means NYC if you live near it and it means Manhattan if you live in the city. The Stadium means Yankee Stadium. The Zoo means the Bronx Zoo. The Statue means the Statue of Liberty of course. I am sure there are many other examples, but this is a common NY mode of speech.


The Capitol Records building in Hollywood? (Not part of the downtown L.A. skyline, though.)

And I’ve always like the Hong Kong skyline as well.

I went back to the page and it had forwarded to a new page. Just in case…

The Capitol Tower.

I love Greensboro’s skyline because it is so small and barely distinctive. Link 1 Link 2

I also like Pittsburgh’s skyline, but it is only distinctive if you see the water and bridges that surround it, not to mention the Point. Link

And then, Atlanta is just Atlanta. Link Although I bet they have more skinny buildings per capita then any other similar sized city.

Philly 30 years ago, maybe, till it was ruined by those damn crappy-looking skyscrapers they tossed up. They just don’t know their place, which is L.A. or Dallas: no building in Philadelphia should be taller than Billy Penn’s hat.

Not at all true. Or are you saying that New York didn’t have a distinctive skyline until the 1970s?

Durham is distinctive, and beautiful, through the combination of architecture and geography.

As an instantly recognisable city, Hong Kong wins for me, due to its mountain frame. Nowhere else is like it.

However, my current city’s skyline is quite distinclive, and, dare I say, it rather elegant.

Have you seen this list of the 15 best skylines in the world?

So far as recognizable skylines go, I don’t know how many people from outside the area would recognize Seattle’s without the Space Needle and/or Mt. Rainier, but I don’t think either element is the only attractive or distinctive part – just the most memorable. That’s true with a lot of places.

Nope, this one in the centre of the shot
Apologies for forgetting the name. All I remember from an SDMB thread is that it has an official name, but the locals call it something else.

My favorite Skyline is Cincinnati’s.

Unless it’s changed since the mid-90s, I’ve always found the Minneapolis skyline distinctive, mostly because of the IDS Center, the Wells Fargo building and 225 S. 6th (the tallest buildings in that pic, from left to right). Minneapolis has such a compact and I guess I’d call it “cozy” downtown. I spent a lot of nights on a bench by the pond in Loring Park watching that skyline…