Construction began on this date in 1884 in Chicago for a radical new building design — destined to be America’s first skyscraper. It was the Home Insurance Company headquarters, designed by engineer William Jenney. Jenney’s building used a metal frame for support, with the exterior walls hung like curtains on the frame. Previously, thick outer walls supported buildings, limiting the height that could be safely reached. Soon, skyscrapers using Jenney’s method thrust up across the country and today dominate city skylines around the world. Each year, the building construction industry in the U.S. erects more than $309 billion worth of private nonresidential buildings. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at <www.census.gov>.