My acrophobia and those skinny skyscrapers.


I’ve always been prone to a certain degree of acrophobia, seldom intense but always lurking just around the corner, all the same.

Conversely, it seems to me that during my adult life, I’ve made progress keeping my fear of heights under wraps. Periodically, I even beat the bastard. There was a time when journeys by air were sheer anxiety; now airplanes strike me as the last great refuge from the teeming planet, even when I’m crammed kipper-like into seats meant for people half my size. These days I love flying.

However, I’m not entirely cured of acrophobia, at least yet. While everyday life mostly involves hugging the ground, or at the very most, crossing a bridge over the Ohio River or gazing out from the third or fourth floor, travel sometimes throws me unwelcome curves.

In 2016 we were in Helsinki, and acceded to Big Kim’s recommendation of a rooftop bar at the Hotel Torni, Finland’s first “skyscraper” of 13 floors, which opened in 1931. The day was beautiful and the view spectacular — and I found myself attached like Velcro to the innermost wall by the elevator shaft.

Porto posed a similar difficulty. I couldn’t quite bring myself to walk across the Douro via the top level of the Pont Luis I bridge, which is 280 feet above the river, with guardrails that reach only to my waistline.

Those trendy glass-floored viewing platforms attached to stupidly tall buildings? Nah. I’ll find a martini somewhere in the basement — but please, knock yourself out.

Having offered readers this prelude, it will come as no surprise that I’m not eager to visit a skinny skyscraper. I’m an urbanite, though usually only at street level.

Watching Skinny Skyscrapers Rise Above New York
, by James Brasuell (Planetizen)

The real estate market in Manhattan is pushing towers to new heights and new dimensions.

The B1M, which describes itself as the definitive channel for construction, documents and explains the trend toward tall, skinny towers in New York City. The skinny tower trend is the result of land use constraints and new building technology.