In the 20th century, engineering and architectural techniques and resources became stronger and more sophisticated, and skyscrapers took off. For a solid 40 years, the undisputed “World’s Tallest Building” was Manhattan’s Empire State Building. That was shortly followed by the original World Trade Center and then Chicago’s Willis (Sears) Tower. But since the Willis Tower lost its spot in 1998 to Malaysia’s Petronas Towers, we’ve built a ton of crazy huge skyscrapers all over the world.

Asian and Middle Eastern countries like China and the United Arab Emirates seem to be firing back and forth, topping each other every few years. But right now, the title holder is the stupidly tall Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

The good news for those of us not footing construction bills is that often, workers will snap pictures while doing maintenance on the towers. Or maybe a journalist will seek a special permit to photograph the towers. Or maybe a daredevil (who, after researching this piece, I’ve discovered is most likely to be a young Russian man) will elude the building’s guards, climb all the way to the top with no safety gear, and take a pant-shittingly terrifying photo of the city that lies beneath. However the pictures are taken, here are some of the most dizzying, mind-blowingly awesome pictures we’ve been able to find from mankind’s tallest creations.

Burj Khalifa

The Burj Khalifa in Dubai is the tallest skyscraper in the world and, at a height of 2,717 feet, is nearly 700 feet taller than the closest runner-up. This image is actually from Google Streetview.
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Shanghai Tower

This picture, taken from atop the world’s second tallest building, was taken by Russian daredevils Vadim Makhorov and Vitaliy Raskalov, who climbed to the top.
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Macau Tower

Taken from the Macau Tower bungee platform (after closing). It’s the second highest skyjump in the world.
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Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay

This photo was taken from one of the many skyscrapers in Hong Kong’s super-dense Causeway Bay by rooftopper Javin Lau.
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The Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco’s iconic and gorgeous Golden Gate Bridge is also the second most-used site for suicides in the world (behind Nanjing’s Yangtze River Bridge), and there are plans to put a net under the bridge to catch jumpers.
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Taipei 101

Taipei 101 was the world’s tallest building from 2004 until the Burj Khalifa was finished in 2010. In 2007, daredevil Felix Baumgartner (the guy who skydived from the stratosphere) BASE jumped off it.
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Burj Khalifa

This photo, also from the top of the Burj Khalifa, was Instagrammed by National Geographic photographer Joe McNally.
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Princess Tower

Dubai claim to skyscraper fame isn’t just the Burj Khalifa, of course. Here’s a shot from near the top of Princess Tower, a 1,358ft residential building in the Dubai Marina.
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Burj Khalifa

Photographer Gerald Donovan did a full panoramic photo from the top of the Burj Khalifa. You can see an interactive version here.
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One World Trade Center

The tallest building in the United States, as of last year, is One World Trade Center in New York, standing at a very symbolic 1,776 feet tall.
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Downtown Chicago

Rooftop photographer Aurelie Curie looks down on the Windy City from above.
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Empire State Building

For nearly 40 years, the iconic Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world, until it was topped by its New York neighbor, the former World Trade Center.
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Abraj Al-Bait

AKA the Mecca Royal Hotel Clock Tower, the Abraj al-Bait is the world’s tallest clock tower, and the world’s third tallest building. It stands in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
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The Cologne Cathedral

This photo was taken by Vadim Makhorov and Vitaliy Raskalov at the Cologne Cathedral. While the cathedral isn’t super tall in comparison to many of these other structures — it’s only 516 feet high — this image is too incredible not to post.
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The Eiffel Tower

Another from Makhorov and Raskalov. Pretty much anyone can go to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Not everyone can do this.
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One World Trade Center

One World Trade Center replaced the towers that were destroyed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and briefly caused a feud between Chicagoans and New Yorkers over which city had the taller building (and the better pizza). As with the Burj Khalifa, One World Trade Center has a fully interactive panoramic version as well, which you can check out at Time Magazine’s site.
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Sagrada Familia


Another image by Russian rooftoppers Makhorov and Raskalov. The Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona has been under construction for over a century.
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Moscow State University

This one is another that doesn’t rank particularly high in the global skyscraper charts, but it gets on the list because of the lengths free-climber and extreme selfie-taker Kirill Oreshkin went to get the picture.
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Downtown Toronto

Rooftopper Tom Ryaboi dangles his feet out over the roof of a skyscraper in Toronto.
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Downtown Toronto

Another Ryaboi stunner above the busy city streets of Toronto.
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Shanghai World Financial Center

The Shanghai World Financial Center is the sixth tallest building in the world, looks like a bottle opener, and sits right next to the second tallest building in the world — the Shanghai Tower.
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The International Commerce Center

This photo was taken inside the Sky100, a 360-degree observation deck on the 100th story of the International Commerce Center in Hong Kong. This is the seventh tallest skyscraper in the world and Hong Kong’s tallest, at 1,588 feet.
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The Cologne Cathedral

Another crazy shot from Vadim Makhorov and Vitaliy Raskalov at the Cologne Cathedral.
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The Willis Tower

Until One World Trade Center was finished, Willis Tower in Chicago (probably better known as the Sears Tower) was the tallest building in the United States. It was the world’s tallest building for 25 years, but is now ranked 11th. This picture is taken from its infamous glass balcony.
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Moscow Bridge

Enjoy the stomach-turning view from several hundred feet above the Dnieper River at the top of Kiev’s Moscow Bridge.
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The Petronas Towers

The Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur held the record for the world’s tallest building(s) from 1998 until displaced by Taipei 101 in 2004. Unfortunately for tourists, the observation deck is actually a bridge that only gets about halfway up the building. (via)

Al Hamra Tower

A BASE jumper gets ready to launch off of Kuwait City’s Al Hamra Tower, the tallest sculpted tower in the world. (via)

Manhattan Midtown East

Photographer Jason Pierce won’t say where one of his favorite Manhattan rooftops is.
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