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The World's Littlest Skyscraper


Image: Solomon Chaim/Wikimedia

The world's smallest skyscraper is a four-story Newby-McMahon Building in downtown Wichita Falls, Texas. It's only 40 feet (12 m) tall.

So, why is it called a skyscraper? The whole thing began with a scam.

In 1919, oil man and engineer J.D. McMahon claimed that he would build a highrise and courted people to invest. With just a simple blueprint, McMahon raised $200,000 (over $2,500,000 in today's dollar).

After the structure was built as a 40 feet building instead of a 480 feet one that people were expecting, McMahon calmly explained that it was his plan all along. The 480 figure in the blueprint was in inches - not feet! When he was sued, the judge threw out the lawsuit because the blueprint was technically correct. McMahon promptly fled Wichita.

The Newby-McMahon Building was an instant embarrassment to the city - it didn't even have stairs, so people had to use ladders to reach the upper floors! It was featured in a Ripley's Believe It or Not! column as "The World's Littlest Skyscraper" and the name stuck ever since. Today, the building is a Texas Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


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Yes - that's right. There were (and still are) a lot of gullible people in the world. The blueprint showed the building exactly as is, except for the elevator because the elevator company balked after finding out the scam.
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Wait a minute here. You're telling me that the blueprints illustrated a four-story building which people thought would be 480 feet tall? And they INVESTED in a building with four 120-feet (36 m) tall stories? Because in that case they fully deserved to be scammed. And if not, then how was the building built according to the blueprints?
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hilarious. This reminds me of Victor Lustig, the con artist who sold the Eiffel Tower. I don't remember if there ever was an article about it on here but its a pretty interesting story
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