Can You Identify These Famous Tall Buildings?

By: Beth Hendricks

New York's Empire State Building is a popular attraction in the City That Never Sleeps, offering 80-mile views on a clear day from its observation deck. Standing more than 1,200 feet high, it took only a little over a year for builders to complete.

Formally known as 30 St Mary Axe, the Gherkin earned its popular nickname for its distinctive pickle-shaped appearance. Today, it houses offices and restaurants in 500,000 square feet of space.

The Transamerica Pyramid Center is actually neither a pyramid nor owned by Transamerica, a company that was acquired by AEGON USA, Inc., in 1999. It was San Francisco's tallest building until crews broke ground on a new skyscraper in 2018.

One World Trade Center is part of a rebuilding effort for the World Trade Center buildings that were destroyed on September 11. It is New York's tallest building and the sixth tallest building in the world.

The Sears Tower, completed in the early 1970s, became the Willis Tower, named for one of its tenants — the Willis Group. It is a beloved Chicago tourist destination, hosting more than one million visitors annually — most of whom hope to capture photos from its 103rd-floor Skydeck.

Located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Burj Khalifa was said to have been designed to mimic the look of a regional bloom known as a spider lily. In addition to its other record, it also has the world's highest outdoor observation deck for visitors.

Locals often refer to this building of the Shard of Glass, a nod to its unique design. The Shard houses private residences as well as a variety of commercial retailers, offices and restaurants.

The Wiltshire Grand was able to bypass a fire ordinance in Los Angeles requiring buildings over a certain height to have a flat roof to enable helicopter access in the event of an emergency. Completed in 2017, its fire enhancements were superior enough to forego the typically-required design.

Thailand pays tribute to its national animal in the simply-named Elephant Building located in its capital of Bangkok. With windows for "eyes" and dark glass rooms as the "tail," this building resembles a 560-foot-long elephant.

The CMG Headquarters building is unique not for its height, but for its three-dimensional design, earning it the nickname "Big Pants." Its open center lends to the building's nickname and unusual look.

The Chrysler building held onto the title of "World's Tallest Building" until the Empire State Building took the crown just a year later. Walter Chrysler, of Chrysler Motors fame, bought the building to serve as not only the home base of his business but also as a trophy to represent how successful he had become.

Located in North Korea, work on this building began in the late 1980s, but stopped just five years later due to an economic downturn. It has never been completed, despite additional attempts to open it since 2008.

The Bank of China Tower, a vision of Pritzker Prize-winner I.M. Pei, was inspired by the bamboo plant. Both the plant and the building are said to represent revitalization in the Chinese culture.

Located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, The Petronas Twin Towers hold the record for world's tallest twin towers. They are connected by a bridge that holds its own record as the highest two-story bridge in the world.

Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower earned its name for its design that resembles a cocoon spun by caterpillars. A representation of growth and development, it is aptly-named as it hosts two vocational schools and a college.

Burj al Arab is renowned for its sailboat-like shape and was once dubbed a "seven-star hotel," alluding to the destination being in a class by itself. A stay here will set you back at least $1,000 a night.

Torre Glòries, formerly Torre Agbar, puts on quite a light show at night that can produce upward of 16 million colors on the outside of the building. It was designed to represent a geyser shooting into the sky.

Turning Torso draws its inspiration from a marble sculpture known as "Twisting Torso." From bottom to top, the building undergoes a 90-degree turn. It is also known for its sustainability: All of the energy used in the building is renewable.

Sitting on Marina Bay in Singapore, this resort complex is host to a casino, hotel, restaurants, theaters and museums. The architect behind the build said he was inspired by a deck of cards in his design.

Taipei 101 features 101 floors and was known formerly as the Taipei World Financial Center. It has the distinction of being the world's tallest "green" building, winning awards for its water recycling system built into the building's facade.

The Aon Center, formerly the Amoco Building and the Standard Oil Building before it, has had a bit of an identity crisis since it was finished in 1974. Its 1,136 feet in height makes it Chicago's third-tallest skyscraper.

Encased in green glass, Shun Hing Square is also called the Diwang Building. It earned that name for the piece of land it sits on; at the time it was auctioned off, it was the most expensive tract of land in the city.

432 Park Avenue overlooking Central Park now sits on the site of the former Drake Hotel, which was purchased for more than $400 million in 2006 and subsequently torn down to make room for this luxury high-rise.

The KK100 building is described as a mixed-use facility that includes residential housing, office space, a transportation hub, hotel and more. The building has "fins" on the outside that tenants can use to reduce glare on upper floors.

The Makkah Royal Clock Tower is one of seven government-owned hotels in Saudi Arabia, located near the Muslim holy site known as the Great Mosque of Mecca. It replaced the historic Ajyad Fortress, which was demolished to make room for the new complex.

CN Tower, named for railway company Canadian National, was built over a period of 40 months, using more than 1,500 workers 24 hours a day. The American Society of Civil Engineers named it one of the "modern Seven Wonders of the World" in 1995.

Located in Benidorm, Spain, InTempo is the tallest building in Spain not located in Madrid. Rumors of the 47-story building having no elevator were deemed to be false, but construction has spanned 13 year since the plans for the building were first introduced in 2006.

875 North Michigan Avenue, formerly known as the John Hancock Center, is located in Chicago's Magnificent Mile. The swimming pool on the 44th floor is the highest indoor swimming pool in the United States.

Renovations on Tour First that began in 2007 significantly altered the appearance of this skyscraper, added additional feet to its height and positioned it as a "green" building thanks to increased energy efficiency.

Landmark 81, named for the building's 81 floors, is situated on the Saigon River. Housing a hotel, retail stores and an IMAX movie theater, it was built at a cost of roughly $1.4 billion.

China Zun, officially known as CITIC Tower, was recently completed, making it the new tallest structure in China's capital city. It may well hold that title for some time, given new regulations on building height restrictions in that country.

Commerzbank Tower in Frankfurt, Germany, features nine themed gardens, which not only provides for additional light throughout the building, but can also be used as meeting or break spaces for employees housed there.

The New York Times building on New York City's Eighth Avenue rises 52 stories in the sky and houses the staff of the nearly 170-year-old newspaper. Retailers on the ground floor of the building are accessible to non-Times employees.

The Lakhta Center in St. Petersburg, Russia, serves as the headquarters for Russian energy company, Gazprom. It also has features open to the public including an education center and an observation deck.

So named for its panoramic views that can stretch as far as Ft. Lauderdale, this newly-constructed Miami apartment building has amenities ranging from a golf simulator to a soundproof music room.

Though subsequent plans have diminished the building's planned height to more than 3,200 feet high, the Jeddah Tower — once completed — will serve as the epicenter of the Jeddah Economic City project.

Rockefeller Center, a collection of 19 different buildings, houses an observation deck dubbed "Top of the Rock." Rockefeller Center, and its adjoining plaza, are also well-known for the ice skating rink and annual Christmas tree lighting.

Salesforce Tower, completed in early 2018, surpassed Transamerica Pyramid as San Francisco's tallest building. Its design was implemented in such a way that the building could safely withstand any powerful earthquake in the area.

The London Eye, an observation wheel that has become a common sight on the River Thames, was once the world's tallest Ferris wheel. It is still one of London's most beloved tourist attractions.

At the time of its construction, Lincoln Cathedral soared over the Great Pyramid of Giza, which had been the world's tallest structure to that point. Its height is not the cathedral's only claim to fame: It once held one of only four copies of the Magna Carta.

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Image: Xiaodong Qiu / Moment / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Rising in the sky to nearly 500 feet, the Great Pyramid of Giza was the tallest building in the world for more than 3,800 years. Since then, the race has been on among nations and municipalities to construct the next "big" thing — literally! Skyscrapers began dotting the landscape in earnest in New York City and Chicago in the 1880s. Not only were they interesting to look at and created an imposing city skyline, but they were practical additions to crowded cities where "growing up" offered more real estate than expanding outward did.

Today, some of the tallest buildings in the world exist outside the United States, standing as symbols of wealth and prosperity and serving as a focal point for a city or tourists. And, it seems just as soon as a building tops the "World's Tallest Buildings" list, a new structure comes along that's just slightly taller and more grandiose to eclipse the previous front-runner.

In this quiz, we've curated a list of 40 of the most famous tall buildings in the world. Read the clues, check the photos and see how aware you are of the skyline-transforming structures that dot our world, from New York City to Shanghai and everywhere in between!

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