Skyline of Seattle on a full moon night.

America's 10 Most Beautiful Skylines

Being the first site, visitors encounter from air or water, the city’s skyline is essentially its soul that it shows to others. The mentality or the personality can be showcased in various ways, from erecting high-rise buildings to unique architectural structures, to the green areas of the city. Although every state has a skyline to show off, the 10 on this list are the most beautiful in the United States. 

New York City, New York

New York skyline
The skyline of New York City

Upon glimpsing at the Manhattan's skyline, one is greeted by the most famous lady in the world, the Statue of Liberty herself. Gifted to the US by France in 1886, as a sign of freedom and democracy, she was strategically placed to let the arrivals know what her country stands for. The 377-stairs climb to her crown offers the best views over Manhattan. On the other hand, the stainless-steeled crown of the Chrysler building is not meant for tourists, but is an integral part of the cityscape for its art deco style, having been the tallest peak for 11 months before getting beat by the art deco Empire State Building in 1931.  

The skyline, having gained depth since then in the multitude of its architectural layers also includes the Woolworth Tower in Gothic-revival style with an aquamarine tip. The One World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower, standing in the invisible shadows of the Twin Towers, is exactly 1,776 meters tall, reflecting the year that the Declaration of Independence was signed. Consisting of the 9/11 memorial plaza and museum, its observation deck is also the highest viewing point of the city, with even the elevator ride to the top offering an unforgettable 360-perspective.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas skyline
The glittering skyline of Las Vegas.

Although some might consider that having even half of the following in single city would be over-the-top, but the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, pyramids, a giant hot-air balloon, and the Greek-influenced architecture are fitting for the city where everything is an exaggeration, anyways. With expensive hotels and dining, too much money spent on gambling, too much skin on the streets, the conglomeration of the structures and buildings make the city's personality, as well as one-of-kind skyline to marvel at. The desert set behind the neon-lit streets of a cityscape makes the famed Vegas skyline impossible to replicate. Vegas, is also installing the world's biggest spherical structure, at $1.8 billion, equipped with the largest LED screen, of the highest resolution.

Despite the blinking billboards and the entertainment- and nightlife-calling structures, the architecture of other buildings has given Vegas the title of an "architectural playground for postmodern designs". Set against the gorgeous backdrop of mountainous desert, are the Drew Las Vegas at some 224 meters with 63 floors holding 3,780 hotel rooms, the traditional yet modern Resort World Las Vegas, the Trump International Hotel, The STRAT Tower and hotel, The Encore, The Palazzo, and of course the Eiffel Tower replica. There are also the iconic Fountains of Bellagio, the Nevada Supreme Court, and the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles skyline
Skyline of Los Angeles.

Not just the suburbs to retire Los Angeles, has, the bustling business center where something is always going on and movies are being filmed, as well as the Hollywood sign as one-of-kind structure in the world. The surging towers from the suburban sprawl behind the spectacular California coastline back-dropped by the rugged San Gabriel Mountains, an often underrated setting, makes for one drop-dead gorgeous skyline. One can watch the nature magically enveloping the glittering grove of skyscrapers and high-rises, from the vicinity, at The Griffith Observatory on a smog-free day.

The most distinctive skyscraper hovering above all is the US Bank Tower at 1,018 feet, with a summit reminiscent of a travel plug. Despite the 2014 law dictating flat-topped roofs to accommodate helicopters, LA's downtown is an interesting collection of tightly-clustered buildings. A unique architectural marvel in itself, The Griffith Observatory, best viewed from the air or from the Standard Hotel, it appears to be an "outsider" set against the City of Angeles, with its stocky-silhouetted domes.

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago skyline
The dazzling skyline of Chicago.

Even with the cold weather and crime-filled streets one’s eyes become glued to this humbly impressive skyline. If Chicago’s skyline was a person, they would possess a magnetic personality that attracts everyone around them. The turning of this trading post into the third largest city in the United States began rapidly during the First World War, which is the same time its majestic skyline began to take the memorable shape. To this day Chicago remains an industrial megalopolis with the convergence of nearly all major rail systems of the country.  

Set against the cyan Lake Michigan, on this well-groomed and recognizable skyline stands the silhouette of the Willis tower, the city's tallest building at 108 stories high, previously known as the Sears Tower. The instantly recognizable iconic steal exterior with black glass and twin white spires is also the 3rd tallest building in the Western hemisphere. Other urban architecture, include The St. Regis Chicago, The stark 875 North Michigan Avenue, as well as the new addition NEMO, which is Chicago's tallest residential building. 

Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu Skyline
Honolulu, Hawaii by the sea.

It might come as a surprise that this Hawaiian island city is fourth for the amount of buildings over 300 feet in height, although a fair share have been erected for tourism, including hotels, vacation condos, and apartments. With only a few other sky-high nondescript office buildings, nature plays a major role in making this skyline notable. Sitting in the neighbourhood of Waikiki, the vacation rentals stand out for their towering white silhouettes, set against the stark blue ocean, the yellow beach, and the green forests in the background.

Although from an architectural standpoint, they don’t have much to offer in terms of "personality" from any angle, a skyline boasting the Diamond Head crater and the deep blue of the Pacific would make one look longingly no matter what else was present on the beaches, calling to them. Unlike any other skyline in the US, it resembles a tropical retreat somewhere far away, rather than the major financial center that it is. It is best viewed from any spot on the Waikiki Beach, the Magic Island Lagoon, Kaka’ako Waterfront Park, and the Tantalus Lookout.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia skyline
The skyline of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania.

The 12 skyscrapers on the skyline taller than 150 meters, and seven of which are higher than 700 feet (some 215 meters), sit among some notable historical landmark of the country, as if intermingling their roots with those, of, the city’s past. It is the city where the Declaration of Independence, was signed, as well as one of the capitals during the American Revolution, and the birthplace of the United States Marine Corps. Philadelphia's highest skyscrapers together totalling 2,744 meters in height impose presence on the city's streets below while guarding the landmarks such as the Philadelphia City Hall, without which they would not have existed. 

The design and the placement of other architecture was carefully selected, appearing classic and modern on the thought-through streets of this largest city in the state, being more than twice the size of the next largest city, Pittsburgh. The skyscrapers on Philadelphia’s skyline include the Comcast Technology Center, the Comcast Center, One and Two Liberty Centers, BNY Mellon Center, Three Logan Square, and the FMC Tower, while the best seats for spectating the skyline are from One Liberty Observation Deck, the City Hall Tower Observation Deck, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Benjamin Franklin Bridge, and the South Street Bridge.

San Francisco, California

San Francisco skyline
The Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline.

This legendary postmark of a skyline is worthy to contend for being the best in the world, as it often represents the country as a whole. With the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges at the facade, it could be, just the most impressive, urban landscape in America. Known for the movie and the real San Andreas Fault, this City by the Bay is at constant risk for earthquakes, so one can't blame it too much for the many nondescript buildings appearing in the last few decades. The hilly and winding streets with the tram, the hippie culture, the eclectic architecture, and the romantic references in movies, also make one close their eyes on the sky-high rent. 

The "futuristic obelisk" Transamerica Pyramid has been recognizable for its triangle roof since 1972, topping the eighth tallest building in the world at 853 feet until recently. Completed 3 years ago, the Salesforce Tower, of almost 1,000 feet, pioneers seismic analysis and design in its gleaming. Equipped with a viewing deck, one can obtain incredible views of the glimmering-in-the-night city, and, if the fog doesn't interfere, of the glittering bay with the Golden Gate bridge. This famed yet humble spectacle is considered as the most spectacular manmade sight in the United States. The view from the Angel Island State Park, known as the “Ellis Island of the West”, offers a unique perspective of the skyline with the Mount Tamalpais.

Seattle, Washington

Seattle skyline
The skyline of Seattle.

Back-dropped by Mount Rainier, this architecturally diverse skyline of the NFL Playoffs city and Christian Grey's hometown, sits on the hill next to the Puget Sound. Interestingly enough the neat skyline of regulated building heights has been considered by some as the best skyline of the country, for each building is unique and interesting, fitting the thematic eclecticism of the spectacle. The Space needle was built in 1962 as the tallest building to overtake the pyramid-peaked grandpa building of 1914.

Seattle skyline
The skyline of Seattle.

The Amazon building is one of the 60 high-rise projects since 2015, when there were already 214 skyscrapers in the city. The architecturally distinct skyline also includes Elliott Bay, the Cascade, and the Olympic Mountains, best viewed from the observation deck of the Space Needle, where one can also note that Seattle lies on a narrow land strip between the Puget Sound and Lake Washington. From the ground, one can marvel at the city from 534-acre Discovery Park or former Fort Lawton that kept an eye on the city back in the day. 

St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis, Missouri
The skyline of St. Louis, Missouri.

With the Mississippi River in the foreground, identifying this skyline is the iconic Golden Arch, a truly marvellous spectacle when set against the dramatic sky during bad weather, or a peace-inducing pastel sunset. The city has a very interesting and unique history, with many events shaping to what it is today. Founded by the French in the 19th century, St. Louis hosted the first-ever Olympics outside of Europe in 1904, while the Forest Park, built in 1876, is twice the size of New York's Central Park, and is considered the heart, hosting institutions and cultural gatherings year-round.

The 630-foot Getaway Arch was erected to symbolically connect the East and the West of the country. This silver band, sitting sturdily on Mississippi River’s banks, also signifies the optimism and good-spirit of the nation. Other notable structures and historically significant buildings include the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, Basilica of St. Louis, the Old Courthouse, and the famous clock tower with the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. The abundance of parks includes the Missouri Botanical Garden, Tower Grove Park, and the City Garden, which is an urban sculpture park. Best panoramic view is achieved from the Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park and from the open-air Busch stadium.

Washington, D.C.

Washington D.C. skyline
Washington DC skyline including Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and The United States Capitol building.

What makes Washington's skyline unforgettable is its ability to capture one's heart with an atmosphere of mystery, history, and elegance, all in on. Also the buildings such as the Smithsonian complex, the United States Capitol, the Washington Monument towering above others, the Lincoln Memorial lit up at night, and of course, the White House, make the skyline instantly recognizable. Washington, D.C. is proof that the city does not need skyscrapers to make its skyline post-card worthy, simply for its grandeur.

The best place to take this grandeur in all direction is from an architectural marvel in itself, topped by an ornamental pyramid, the Washington's Monument observation deck. Driving along the Potomac River in the evening gives one the feeling of driving within the heart of the country, which, as a capital, it really is. The aura of all the significant architecture illuminated around offers an experience one will never forget, feeling the power of being within the incredible machine that oils well the veins and the arteries of the rest of the incredible country.

It is evident that no one criterion identifies the skyline as the most beautiful. Even the most unique structures, such as a conglomeration one will find in Vegas, would mar the effect, if it didn't have the appreciation of its people. Similarly, the grand arch of St. Louis would equal to nothing without its symbolism linked to the city's history. 

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