Now you know

The first "skyscraper" was a horse.

Skyscraper won England's Epsom Derby in 1789. By 1800, the word had come to mean a hat or bonnet. High-standing horses in general were "sky-scrapers" by 1826. Later, so were tall men (1857) and fly balls in baseball and cricket (1866). The earliest recorded use of "skyscraper" to mean a high-rise was in the American Architect and Building News of June 30, 1883, referring to tall buildings in Chicago.

Source: 'Rise of the New York Skyscraper,' by Carl W. Condit and Sarah Bradford Landau (Yale University Press, 1997); the Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology, by Robert K. Barnhart; the Skyscraper Museum, www.skyscraper.org.

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(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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