The best description of the Los Angeles skyline is, sprawling. The view from above, flying into the city of Los Angeles is breathtaking at anytime, day or night. During the day the mountains can be seen providing a backdrop to the rambling skyline. At night the city lights are brilliant and seem to go on forever. However, some, who call it sparse and unexciting, have judged the Los Angeles skyline rather harshly, comparing it to the density of the New York skyline.


In a recent Laws That Shaped L.A. article, writer Jeremy Rosenberg called the Los Angeles skyline, ‘flat, drab and stunted”. Ouch. Rosenberg blames a 1974 Los Angeles Municipal Code that requires tall buildings to be equipped with helipads, thus the flat nature of Los Angeles skyscrapers. Prior to the text included in the 1974 building code, was a 1904 height limit to the early Los Angeles Skyline, which may have paved the way for today’s height restrictions. That ordinance is mistakenly attributed to a communal fear of earthquakes. But, in actuality, it was not until 1906 that the great earthquake of San Francisco occurred.


Earthquakes are however an architectural concern because of the near proximity of the San Andreas fault-line. Still, the Los Angeles skyline is a premier image of the Golden State. It is iconic, one of the most recognizable scenes of popular American culture. It has been featured in more movies than one can count, not to mention limitless television episodes. It is ironic that hundreds of shots of the skyline have been taken, in a city where thousands of ‘takes’ for movies are produced.


Today, the tallest building in the Los Angeles skyline is the U.S. Bank Tower. It tops out at 1018 feet and is 73 stories tall. The U.S. Bank Tower is the tallest building in California, and the 10th tallest in the United States. The height of the U.S. Bank Tower is a long cry from the Braly Building. Completed in 1903, the153 foot, thirteen story, Braly building is historically considered the city’s first high-rise.


The second tallest building in the downtown area of Los Angeles is 160 feet shorter than the U.S. Bank Tower. The Aon Center is 858 feet tall.

Out of ten of the tallest skyscrapers in California, eight reign in the skies over the city of Los Angeles. The remaining six tallest buildings in California, that dot the Los Angeles landscape, scraping the sky are:


  • Two California Plaza -completed in 1992 and 67th tallest in the United States.


  • Gas Company Tower-70th tallest in the United States


  • Bank of America –Built in 1974 it is the 83rd tallest in the United States


  • 777 Tower- 87th tallest in the United States


  • Wells Fargo Tower- 54th tallest in the United States


  • Figueroa at Wilshire-96th tallest in the United States