Environment: The Tallest Skyscraper

In 1885, Chicago became the proud possessor of the world's first true skyscraper, the nine-story, steel-framed Home Insurance Co. building. Within a decade, however, New York City captured the tallest skyscraper lead—and held it. The champion until last month was Manhattan's 1,350-ft.-high, twin-towered World Trade Center, which tops the Empire State Building by 100 ft. But now, after a lapse of about 80 years, Chicago again boasts the tallest tower: the $150 million Sears, Roebuck & Co. building, which soars 1,450 ft. above the city.

Sears executives offer a simple explanation for their record-breaking new building. Says the company's recently retired...

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