Interesting fact: there are over 100,000 tower cranes active today. These massive construction machines are scattered within urban landscapes throughout the world, acting as temporary landmarks where metropolitan cities are changing and growing.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates is famously home to many of these construction cranes, and they drive and assist the construction of global city’s many skyscrapers and high-rise buildings. In fact, Dubai has more active tower cranes than any other city in the world. The actual count in Dubai, however, is up for dispute. Some have claimed that the city contains close to 25 percent of the world’s active tower cranes, while others have placed this amount at a much lower 5 percent.
Unfortunately, these estimates generally are based off assumption, and they do not reflect any in-depth count of the tower cranes in Dubai. In fact, many experts note that the alleged high percentage of tower cranes in Dubai is part of a myth that continues to persist despite long being debunked. Some time ago, an article published in the Wall Street Journal more accurately reported there to be close to 1000 active tower cranes in Dubai, giving the city about 1 percent of the total world’s share.
A city that does have an exact count of its many tower cranes is Sydney, Australia. Sydney, as of late 2015, has 220 active tower cranes, making it second to Dubai. This amount is directly attributed to recent growth and interest in high-rise living, and 170 out of the 220 tower cranes are for work on high-rise residential projects.
As for the United States, the city with the greatest amount of active tower cranes is surprising. Not New York, not Los Angeles, but Seattle is the tower crane capital of America, and it has, as of October 2016, 58 of them in active use. Several factors are triggering the use of so many cranes in Seattle, including various high-rise, mixed-use buildings adjacent to Amazon’s headquarters, the city’s booming Denny Triangle neighborhood, and various other downtown urban developments. In fact, Seattle’s crane count has grown so much in the past year (by 38 percent) that there is a shortage of available operators.
The multitude of tower cranes in any city skyline is not directly characteristic of the city itself, but marks growth in local industries and population. The change brought onto cities to accommodate space for these two things is almost always good, since it allows these booming industries to continue to flourish and for cities to redefine themselves.