This image is from the 1896 edition of the Rand McNally Universal Atlas of the World, and shows the 50 tallest manmade structures of that time:
From the University of Texas Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection, click here for a larger (613 kb) version.
It is interesting that in 1896, many of the world’s tallest structures were churches. The list of the top fifty structures includes eighteen churches (the two tallest structures were the Eiffel tower, at 1000 feet; and the Washington Monument at 555 feet).
The world is currently in the midst of a skyscraper-building binge. The current tallest building is the Taipei 101 in Taiwan, which is 1671 feet tall with 101 floors. There are a number of super-tall skyscrapers under construction, including the Burj Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, which will be between 2651 and 3317 feet tall, with between 162 and 216 floors!
Tall structures are always about someone’s glory; think about the Tower of Babel. I suppose even when the building craze was the erection of taller cathedrals, that to some it was more about the prestige of the cities that were putting them up than about the glory of God.
What are you building, and who are you building it for?
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:10-15 ESV).
Grace and Peace