MNN Galleries

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

By: Matt Hickman on March 4, 2016, 12:53 p.m.
Lomas & Nettleton Building in Houston

Photo: Adavyd/Wikimedia Commons

8 of 17

Lomas & Nettleton Building, Houston

If you've ever set foot in Houston, it's pretty obvious that this is a skyscraper-lovin' town with around 30 500-plus-footers and one particularly imposing edifice: I.M. Pei's JPMorgan Chase Tower, that tops out at just a smidge over 1,000 feet. Alongside the U.S. Bank Tower in L.A. and Atlanta's Bank of America Plaza, it's the tallest building in the U.S. outside of New York and Chicago.

This all said, it's wild to think that a little more than 110 years ago, the tallest building in tall building-heavy Houston was a mere eight stories. One would imagine that this being Texas and all, Houston would have started big. But it started with the Lomas & Nettleton Building, a 105-foot-tall former office building also known as the First National Bank Building that was converted into condos in the late '90s and renamed the Franklin Lofts. Completed in 1904 as the tallest steel-framed building west of the Mississippi, it's hard to call this neoclassical brick and limestone structure a skyscraper today (it’s considered a low-rise) but back then it soared. The early Texan skyscraper specialists at Forth Worth-based Sanguinet & Staats conceived the design. Houston's skyline remained relatively modest up until 1929 when the Gulf Building, now the JPMorgan Chase Building (not to be confused with the aforementioned JPMorgan Tower), was completed. Thirty-seven stories and 430 feet tall, this highly regarded Art Deco beauty was Bayou City's tallest all the way through 1963 when the ExxonMobil Building was completed.