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A Florentine law of 1251 decreed that all urban buildings be immediately reduced to less than 26 m.

To appear more slender, allow less wind exposure, and transmit more daylight to the ground, many skyscrapers have a design with setbacks, which are sometimes also structurally required.

The term "skyscraper" was first applied to buildings of steel framed construction of at least 10 stories in the late 19th century, a result of public amazement at the tall buildings being built in major cities like Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, Detroit, and St. The first steel-frame skyscraper was the Home Insurance Building (originally 10 stories with a height of 42 m or 138 ft) in Chicago, Illinois in 1885.

Nasir Khusraw in the early 11th century described some of them rising up to 14 stories, with roof gardens on the top floor complete with ox-drawn water wheels for irrigating them.

An early modern example of high-rise housing was in 17th-century Edinburgh, Scotland, where a defensive city wall defined the boundaries of the city.

Note that this criterion fits not only high-rises but some other tall structures, such as towers.

The word skyscraper often carries a connotation of pride and achievement.

Skyscrapers may contain offices, commercial and residential uses.

For buildings above a height of 300 m (984 ft), the term "supertall" can be used, while skyscrapers reaching beyond 600 m (1,969 ft) are classified as "megatall".

The skyscraper, in name and social function, is a modern expression of the age-old symbol of the world center or axis mundi: a pillar that connects earth to heaven and the four compass directions to one another.

The tallest building in ancient times was the 146 m (479 ft) Great Pyramid of Giza in ancient Egypt, built in the 26th century BC.

Professor Karol Sikora, medical director of Cancer Partners UK, believes this could be due to high levels of growth hormones in taller women.

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