MNN Galleries

15 historic American skyscrapers that aren't the Empire State Building

By: Matt Hickman on March 4, 2016, 12:53 p.m.
Bromo Seltzer Tower in downtown Baltimore

Photo: f11photo/Shutterstock

5 of 17

Emerson Bromo-Seltzer Tower, Baltimore

From ballparks to battle monuments, there's plenty to admire about Baltimore from an architectural standpoint. Charm City's modern-day skyline, however, largely fails to, well, charm.

There is, however, one downtown skyscraper capable of stopping first-time visitors in their tracks with a gasped "What in the world is that?" That would be the Emerson Bromo-Seltzer Tower, a 15-story skyscraper that appears to be imported from another time and place. And that's what makes it so great. Commissioned by antacid titan Captain Isaac E. Emerson, the 289 feet tall neo-Renaissance tower ruled as Baltimore's tallest building from its completion in 1911 through 1923. With its iconic four-face gravity clock that swaps out numbers for letters (take a wild guess what they spell out) and its medieval castle-on-a-diet profile, the Bromo-Seltzer Tower was inspired by Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. Swank digs for a purveyor of heartburn relief aids, right? (Not so elegant but beloved by locals and ship captains alike was the glowing, 51-foot-tall antacid bottle that rotated atop the tower before being dismantled in 1936 due to structural concerns). Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, the Emerson Bromo-Seltzer Tower has gone through some rough patches. But thanks in part to the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, this singular historic structure lives on as a studio space-providing hub for literary and visual artists.