May 22, 2023 - Development
On this day in history: A Minnesotan patents the skyscraper
Minneapolis architect Leroy Buffington on this day in 1888 received a patent for a method of building iron-framed structures that allowed for heights never seen before.
- At the time, they were called "cloudscrapers." Today, they're known as skyscrapers.
Yes, but: Buffington was mocked when he published his ideas in respected academic journals, according to the Minnesota Historical Society.
- Meanwhile, buildings using similar construction methods began rising all over the U.S.
What he did: Buffington sued many of the builders for patent infringement, but the cases dragged on long enough that the patent rights expired.
- Buffington was then "further mocked for spending $30,000 without winning a case in defense of his design," the Historical Society wrote.
- One exception was Minneapolis' Rand Tower, whose developer voluntarily paid Buffington a royalty of $2,250.
Of note: Despite not getting credit for his work on skyscrapers, Buffington still made his mark on the Twin Cities.
- Many of the buildings he designed are still standing today, including the Pillsbury "A" Mill as well as Eddy Hall, Pillsbury Hall, Nicholson Hall and Burton Hall on the University of Minnesota campus.
- He also designed the West Hotel in Minneapolis and the second Minnesota Capitol, which was demolished in 1938.
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