List of Lost USA Superlatives

List of Lost USA Superlatives

June 2, 2017 1 By Tad Reeves

When I was growing up in the 80’s, I had a set of 1963 World Book Encyclopedias, each of which was chock full of bar graphs and comparison charts which showed, repeatedly, that the USA had the largest, biggest, and bestest of nearly everything in the world.  We had the tallest buildings, the biggest city, the largest economy, the most cars, the fastest trains, etc.  However, as time has dragged on, I’ve run into an increasing list of lost “superlatives” where I was previously sure that we were the best in the world, only to find out that we’ve fallen way behind.

World’s Largest City

At the time my cherished 1963 World Book was published, New York City had a population of around 7 million, with 15 million in the metropolitan area, making it the largest city in the world.  New York overtook London around 1925, with its steady stream of immigrants coming to the USA, and jobs aplenty in the booming downtown core.  Heavy investment over the preceding 30 years in terms of constructing the world’s largest subway system, also made New York’s meteoric growth feasible.

But the city’s growth stagnated, having grown only incrementally to 8.5 million in the 50 years since then. Meanwhile, literally more than a score of other cities have grown past it, with New York City dropping to the 23rd largest city in the world.

World’s Largest Metropolitan Area

Living in New York for a few years, most locals seem pretty convinced they have the largest metropolis in the world.  However, it’s not even CLOSE anymore.

Greater New York was, for over 60 years in the 20th century, the largest metropolis in the world.  Even after Tokyo passed New York with more people inside the city limits, greater New York (including New Jersey, Connecticut, Long Island, etc) was for some years more the most populous in the world.

Now, defining a “metropolitan area” can be tricky.  In the USA, cities are usually defined by an area that has people commuting to a common core city.  But in China, which presently has 3 metro areas that are significantly larger than Greater New York,

World’s Tallest Building

[todo] From the 1884 construction of the first skyscraper in Chicago all the way until 1998, the tallest building in the world was ALWAYS in the United States.   For 41 years (1931-1972), the tallest building in the world was the Empire State Building, and for another 24 years, the tallest building in the world was the Sears Tower in Chicago.

Now, we’re not even close.  After the events of 9/11, we had every chance to show some New York chutzpah and come back from the ashes with the tallest and most ostentatious building in the world, but alas – the tallest floor you can ascend to in the USA is now behind 9 other skyscrapers the world over.

List of tallest buildings by highest occupied floor (height to roof)

Rank Building City Country Height (m) Height (ft) Floors Built Reference
1 Burj Khalifa Dubai  UAE 739.44 m 2,426 ft 163 2010 [2]
2 Shanghai Tower Shanghai  China 574.61 m 2,073 ft 121 2015 [3]
3 Ping An Finance Center Shenzhen  China 555.1 m 1,821 ft 115 2016 [4]
4 Abraj Al-Bait Towers Mecca  Saudi Arabia 530.0 m 1,740 ft 120 2012 [citation needed]
5 Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre Guangzhou  China 530 m 1,739 ft 111 2016 [5]
6 Lotte World Tower Seoul  South Korea 497.6 m 1,633 ft 123 2016 [6]
7 Shanghai World Financial Center Shanghai  China 487.41 m 1,599 ft 101 2008 [7]
8 International Commerce Centre Hong Kong  China 479.83 m 1,574 ft 118 2010 [8]
9 Taipei 101 Taipei  Taiwan 449.20 m 1,471 ft 101 2004 [9]
10 Willis Tower Chicago  United States 442.14 m 1,451 ft 108 1974 [10]
11 World One Mumbai  India 442.0 m 1,450 ft 117 2016 [11]
12 Kingkey 100 Shenzhen  China 442.0 m 1,449 ft 100 2011 [citation needed]
13 Guangzhou International Finance Center Guangzhou  China 432.00 m 1,417 ft 103 2009 [12]
14 432 Park Avenue New York City  United States 425.5 m 1,396 ft 88 2015
15 One World Trade Center New York City  United States 417.0 m 1,368 ft 104 2014


World’s Largest Subway System

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World’s Largest Passenger Train Network

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Largest Automobile Market in the World

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World’s Fastest Internet

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World’s Largest Casino City (by gambling revenue)