Venerated skylines under pressure: a view of three cities

Igal Charney, Martine Drozdz, Gillad Rosen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


For many decades, permissible building heights have been kept relatively low and largely unchanged in cities, which have been home to renowned historic and architectural assets. Recently, attempts to introduce modifications into long-established height limitations have triggered diverse responses among policy-makers, planners and residents of such cities. Using an extensive body of planning documents, protocols, and interviews, and adopting an urban comparative approach, this paper examines how height restrictions are maintained and challenged in three cities characterized by strict height regulations: Washington DC, Paris, and Jerusalem. We argue that the continuous interplay between three dimensions–the market, policy, and culture can lead to a range of responses: strict obedience to a long-established planning tradition, to a relaxation of height limits, and ultimately to the deregulation of height limits and the reshaping of venerated cityscapes. Our study suggests that a longer-view approach involving a comparative examination yields a nuanced and finer understanding of urban growth trajectories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1087-1107
Number of pages21
JournalUrban Geography
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Height limits
  • Jerusalem
  • Paris
  • Washington DC
  • skylines
  • urban verticality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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