The Skyscraper Museum is devoted to the study of high-rise building, past, present, and future. The Museum explores tall buildings as objects of design, products of technology, sites of construction, investments in real estate, and places of work and residence. This site will look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Vertical Density

Hong Kong is the most densely occupied major city in the world, but the statistics of its average density-- a mere 6,183 people per square kilometer-- belies its real character. The aerial views of major cities on this wall, labeled with their respective densities, illustrate the nature of their urban environments far better than mathematics.

There are two ways to conceptualize urban density: on the ground plane and in the skyline. Statistically, the densest cities in the world are Cairo and Mumbai, with more than 37,000 and 21,000 per square kilometer, respectively (our numbers represent the total population divided by the area of the city proper). However, their extreme concentration is spread homogenously in crowded low-rise buildings.

Hong Kong's vertical density piles people on a small percentage of the land: throughout the mountainous territory, more than three-quarters of the area is preserved as natural landscape or for agriculture. As a result, the cumulative built area of Hong Kong is only 100 square miles. Thus, its 7 million residents live at an average density of 70,000 per square mile. The average density of Manhattan is likewise 70,000, meaning that all of the population of Hong Kong SAR --on the island or in distant transit-based New Towns-- at the density of Manhattan.