Best International Skyline (2014)


Our readers have proven once again they are a passionate lot, by voting the Dallas skyline into first place in our USA TODAY Readers' Choice contest for Best International Skyline.  

The highly recognizable cityscape - regularly featured in the 1980s hit series   'Dallas' and other more recent reality shows - took a strong majority of votes, despite stiff competition from #2 finisher Chicago.   

  • Dallas


    "Dallas became initially identifiable by the opening credits of an infamous '80s TV show," says expert Preston Kissman. "The contemporary Dallas skyline tells a story of big banking, big oil, big money, and the occasional big bust." James Adams add, "Dallas has continued to stay flashy. Controversially, it has done this not with the height or style of its newest architecture, but rather through an internal race to adorn its existing and new icons with colorful interactive lighting that cannot be ignored."  
    Photo courtesy of Ultima_Gaina/iStock

  • Chicago


    "Chicago exudes the modern American spirit of a city destroyed by fire and rebuilt into a hotbed of progressive architecture," says expert James Adams.  "A wealth of iconic skyscrapers that are timeless in their design make this skyline one of the best to gaze upon."  Architect Joyce Owens says, "Chicago has a world renowned mix of modern skyscrapers and early 'high-rise buildings' (load-bearing masonry buildings – the precursor to skyscrapers). Its spectacular location directly along Lake Michigan provides the perfect opportunity for breathtaking views."  
    Photo courtesy of City of Chicago

  • Rio de Janeiro

    Rio de Janeiro

    Rio de Janeiro has an almost unnatural looking topography, giving it a most memorable setting for architecture.  Rio's skyline undulates with the landscape, offering the eye visual variety which complements the city's geographic advantages.
    Photo courtesy of dabldy/iStock

  • Toronto


    "Toronto's skyline is a typical North American twentieth century construct of considerable handsome structures," says architect James Adams.  "What sets this skyline apart, however, is the shear height of the CN Tower ," he says.  It was the tallest structure in the world for over thirty years, until recently succumbing to the shiny Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE. 
    Photo courtesy of Songquan Deng/iStock

  • New York

    New York

    "New York City is easily one of the world's most instantly identifiable skylines," says expert Preston Kissman.  Manhattan has had a compelling skyline for generations. "New additions, including the New York Times Tower, Frank Gehry’s recently completed 12 Spruce Street and the elegant One World Trade Center have made a positive contribution to NYC’s tradition of exciting and appealing architecture, adds architect Joyce Owens.Kissman adds that from the south,"it portrays a bold prominence in the bay, not unlike the prow of a grand transatlantic ship."    
    Photo courtesy of LanceKing/iStock

  • Washington, D.C.

    Washington, D.C.

    "Washington D.C. evokes an American nostalgia that's been captured in pictures and on film throughout the twentieth century," says expert James Adams.  "The neoclassical and Georgian architectural styles that are key elements in this planned city are recognizable the world over."  It's also brimming with iconic landmarks.
    Photo courtesy of Jonathan Larsen/iStock

  • St. Louis

    St. Louis

    "Similar to the distinctive skyline of Sydney on the other side of the globe, St. Louis - with its iconic arch - enjoys a look that can’t be confused with any other city," says expert Joyce Owens. 
    Photo courtesy of RudyBalasko/iStock

  • Hong Kong

    Hong Kong

    "The Hong Kong has two key elements which make it special." explains architect Joyce Owens.  "A silhouette provided by unique and identifiable skyscrapers, but also water and interesting topography; the combo creates a dramatic setting."  Expert Preston Kissman concurs. "This city provides a dramatic sight from any angle," he says.  
    Photo courtesy of leungchopan/iStock

  • San Francisco

    San Francisco

    "San Francisco’s skyline does not disappoint. Iconic buildings and dramatic bridges, old and new, combine with theatrical topography and reflective water views from all angles, making San Francisco the crown jewel of the west coast," says architect Joyce Owens.    
    Photo courtesy of San Francisco Travel Association/Can Balcioglu

  • Seattle


    Mt Rainier appears in the distance, looming behind the cosmopolitan Seattle skyline, giving this city a connection with the outdoors that's as refreshing as a cool breeze," says our expert Preston Kissman.  The Space Needle adds to the list of reasons this USA skyline is beloved and identifiable.  
    Photo courtesy of Beboy_ltd/iStock


In recent years, Dallas has added colorful interactive lighting to its skyline, giving it 8 extra hours per day to impress travelers.   Nighttime flights into DFW - one of the nation's busiest airports - often give passengers a memorable view of what has become an extravaganza.  (An early adapter to colorful nighttime lighting of a downtown was Albuquerque, New Mexico).  

All 20 nominations were made by a panel of practicing architects, and readers were given four weeks to vote.   This is not the first win for the Lone Star State.   Texas also took #1 for its 'Big Tex' statue in our Best Quirky Landmark contest.   

Readers ensured all but one of the American nominees made the winners' list, shutting out many respected overseas metros.  

The full list of winners in the 'Best International Skyline' contest category for 10Best Readers' Choice is as follows:

  1. Dallas
  2. Chicago
  3. Rio de Janeiro
  4. Toronto
  5. New York
  6. Washington, D.C.
  7. St. Louis
  8. Hong Kong
  9. San Francisco
  10. Seattle

Other nominees in the contest included Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur,  Las VegasLondonParisShanghaiSydneyToronto
and Vancouver.  

Congratulations to all the winners!   

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AlertThe Experts

Joyce Owens, AIA

Joyce Owens, AIA

Joyce Owens, AIA

James Adams, AIA

James Adams, AIA

James Adams, AIA

Preston Kissman

Preston Kissman

Preston Kissman