A skyline is the outline or shape created by a city's overall structure, or by human intervention in a non-urban setting or in nature that is formed where the sky meets buildings or the land. City skylines serve as a pseudo-fingerprint as no two skylines are alike. For this reason, news and sports programs, television shows, and movies often display the skyline of a city to set a location. The term The Sky Line of New York City was first introduced in 1896, when it was the title of a color lithograph by Charles Graham for the color supplement of the New York Journal.

Paul D. Spreiregen, FAIA, has called a skyline "a physical representation [of a city's] facts of life ... a potential work of art ... its collective vista."


Early examples

File:ColosseumAtEvening.jpg|The Colosseum in Rome File:All Gizah Pyramids.jpg|Giza pyramids File:Acropolis wide view.jpg|The Acropolis Athens File:Stonehenge cloudy sunset.jpg|Stonehenge's skyline has been known for millennia.

Modern city skylines

Some natural skylines have been unintentionally modified for commercial purposes. File:Hong Kong Harbour Night 2019-06-11.jpg|Skyline of Hong Kong File:Chicago September 2016-23.jpg|Chicago File:Beijing_Skyline.webp|Beijing File:City of London skyline 22.12.2019.jpg|City of London skyline File:Kuala Lumpur Skyline at dusk 1.jpg|Kuala Lumpur File:Pilone cabinovia Arabba Porta Vescovo.JPG|Ski lift pylon in Italy transforming a natural skyline


Girgaon Chowpatty-rise buildings

High-rise buildings, including skyscrapers, are the fundamental feature of urban skylines.


Towers from different eras make for contrasting skylines.

San Gimignano, in Tuscany, Italy, has been described as having an "unforgettable skyline" with its competitively built towers. File:San Gimignano 05.jpg|San Gimignano Towers File:Villejuif - Chateaux d'eau.jpg|9 Water towers in Villejuif (Paris) File:Invasive Species 01.jpg|A cell phone tower making a surreal addition to the skyline

Sports stadiums

The Colosseum and 2008 Beijing Olympic Stadium give varied sport stadium skylines.

Remote locations

Some remote locations have striking skylines, created either by nature or by sparse human settlement in an environment not conducive to housing significant populations.

File:Mount Everest as seen from Drukair2 PLW edit.jpg|Mount Everest

Architectural features

Notable architects influencing skyline

Norman Foster served as architect for the Gherkin in London and the Hearst Tower in Midtown Manhattan, and these buildings have to added to their cities' skylines.

Albert Speer made a notable night time skyline with searchlights at Nuremberg.

Use of skylines in media

Skylines are sometimes used as backgrounds for movies, television shows, news websites, and in other forms of media.

Subjective ranking of skylines

Several services rank skylines based on their own subjective criteria. Emporis is one such service, which uses height and other data to give point values to buildings and add them together for skylines.