Tower Cranes Throughout the World

Bright red tower crane in operation in Dubai.

Interesting fact: there were over 100,000 tower cranes active at the peak of their boom around 2010. Although the current count is somewhat imprecise, these massive construction machines are scattered within urban landscapes throughout the world, acting as temporary landmarks where metropolitan cities are changing and growing.

Cranes in Dubai: Are there really that many?

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.

Tower Crane Count In Sydney

A city that does have an exact count of its many tower cranes is Sydney, Australia. Sydney, as of mid-2020, has 299 active tower cranes, making it second to Dubai. This amount is directly attributed to recent growth and interest in high-rise living, as most of the tower cranes are for work on high-rise residential projects.

Sydney isn’t alone as a crane-ample Australian city. Melbourne holds another mighty count with 196 cranes. Altogether, Australian skylines amount to 772 cranes.

U.S. Cities with the Most Cranes

As for the United States, throughout the 2010s, the city with the greatest amount of active tower cranes was surprising. Not New York, not Los Angeles, but Seattle was the tower crane capital of America, as it had, at its peak, 65 in active use. Several factors triggered 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 grew so much back in 2016 (by 38 percent) that there was a shortage of available operators.

As of 2020, however, Seattle’s crane numbers have depleted to 36, with Los Angeles having the national lead with 47. When looking outside just the U.S., in North America, Toronto towers above other major cities, with a total of 121 cranes.

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 this growth is often positive, since it allows these booming industries to continue to flourish and for cities to redefine themselves.

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3 thoughts on “Tower Cranes Throughout the World
  1. There is currently one tower crane in Kansas City, Missouri, U.SA., which is constructing apartment tower “Three Light.”

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