The history of steel goes all the way back to 1800 BC and possibly even further. The earliest discovery of steel came from ironware, from an archaeological site in Western Asia. Since the discovery of steel, we have also discovered the excellent properties and structure of steel itself, making it an excellent choice of material to construct buildings with. Steel is a carbon and iron alloy and therefore has great strength and is also low costing, making it a very desirable material. Over the years the use of steel has developed massively and is now used for a variety of different purposes. In more recent times the steel industry itself has adopted new approaches in order to improve the efficiency and recycling of steel, as it is 100% recyclable, making it ideal! We have constructed (pun intended) a list of the most famous buildings or structures in the world that were made with steel – whether that be part of the building or an individual structure.
Eiffel Tower, France
The idea for the Eiffel Tower first came about in 1889, by a contractor and engineer. It has been suggested that this building has around 7300 tonnes of metal in its structure and is also heavily made up of iron. In this case, steel was mainly used in order to provide support and a frame to the building, making it much safer and more durable. The Eiffel Tower contains a range of different materials. It is one of the most popular attractions in France and specifically Paris. The Eiffel Tower sees over 7 million visits a year and is an important monument in France, making it an extremely popular place to visit when in the country. There are many ways you can experience this building as there are restaurants, performers and opportunities to see Paris from a great height.
Brooklyn Bridge, New York
The Brooklyn Bridge was the first steel-wire suspension bridge, making it an iconic landmark in New York and also one of the oldest bridges with a roadway in the United States. It was built to enable easy travel between Brooklyn and Manhattan, as the development of business and jobs mainly grew in Manhattan. The bridge took over 10 years to construct due to the fact that the steel wiring and metal were so thick, as they had to ensure it would be strong enough to hold thousands of cars, pedestrians and more. Due to the durable steel that was used to construct the bridge, it has stayed in good nick for over 130 years. It is so popular due to the fact that there was no other bridge like it when it was first opened in 1883, making it unique. It is also commonly visited as a tourist attraction due to the great views.
Empire State Building, New York
As one of the most famous buildings in America, the Empire State Building was built in 1931 and held the title of the world’s tallest building for nearly 40 years. This building contains nearly 800 tonnes of steel (both aluminium and stainless steel.) It is the world’s most famous office building and a trip to New York would not be complete without visiting it. It is made up of over 57,000 tonnes of steel columns and beams as well as concrete. Surprisingly, it was also built in just over a year and stands a mighty 1454 feet tall. A huge majority of the Empire State Building’s structure relies on the steelwork, making steel the most important material of this iconic building.
Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia
The most known landmark in Australia, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is the largest steel arch bridge in the world. The bridge makes up around 52,800 tonnes of steelwork, most of that steel being imported from England. Construction of the building started in 1923, with the final opening in 1932, which continues to be celebrated in Sydney. Each day, over 100,000 vehicles cross the bridge in order provide a gateway between the central business district and the North Shore. In more recent times, it has become a huge tourist attraction for the country and you can now even walk across the bridge or take part of a climb up to the top. For excellent views of Sydney and convenience to drivers, the bridge was a great investment for the country.
Beijing National Stadium, China
As one of the world’s largest steel producers, it’s no surprise that a building in China made this list! In 2017, China produced 831.7 million metric tonnes of steel, hundreds more than any other country. One of the most famous buildings in China is the Beijing National Stadium, which was designed to hold 91,000 people for events. Construction of the building began in 2003 and was finally completed in 2008. The building itself is made from over 42,000 tonnes of steel, currently making it the largest steel structure across the entire world. Due to its design, it has also been nicknamed the ‘Bird’s nest’, the unusual shape encourages people to visit. It draws in thousands of tourists and is one of Beijing’s main attractions.
Burj Khalifa, Dubai
As the world’s tallest manmade structure, the Burj Khalifa completed construction in 2009 and was made entirely open to the public. It consists of 163 floors, a large water fountain, offices, restaurants and much more to attract people to visit it. It was mainly constructed to bring in more tourism but is also used for as offices and a hotel. Though the main framing of the building is made of concrete, the building is also made from over 31,400 tonnes of steel and therefore definitely deserves a place on this list. The steel rebar was used to reinforce the concrete and so the steel element of the building is extremely important in keeping the structure together. Another interesting thing to note is that if the steel used to build the Burj Khalifa was laid end to end, it would wrap ¼ of the way around the actual Earth! Concrete and steel were the major materials used to construct the Burj Khalifa.
Willis Tower, Chicago
Most commonly known as the Sears Tower, this skyscraper was the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere until 2014. During the construction of this building, a variety of different steel frames were bolted onto each part of the building in order to provide additional strength. The exterior walls are made of both glass and steel. Another interesting usage of steel is that the main design incorporates at least 9 steel square tubes, allowing for the building to develop further and taller in the future if this is desired. The Willis Tower was built mainly for the purpose of creating new offices, though tourists can go and visit to see the sights of Chicago.
It just goes to show how important steel is to our society and construction industries! There are hundreds of thousands of buildings made from steel in the world and more continue to be built each day. As steel stockholders, we understand the importance of steel and how it can benefit so many structures and projects across the entire world. Steel allows us to strengthen buildings and create beautiful structures, making it hugely popular with builders, architects and construction companies.
Natalie is the content writer for South West Steel Supplies and enjoys updating our blog with new updates and information about steel.