Definition of tower block noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary


tower block

; NAmE
(British English)
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a very tall block of flats/apartments or offices CultureskyscrapersSkyscrapers are very tall buildings that contain offices or places to live. The first were built in Chicago in the late 1880s but they have since been copied all over the world. After 1913 the top few storeys (= floors) of skyscrapers were often stepped back (= built gradually narrower, floor by floor) to allow more light to reach street level.Many of the most famous skyscrapers are in New York City. The Chrysler Building, at 1 047 feet/319 metres, was by far the tallest building in the world in 1930 when it was built. The taller Empire State Building, 1 250 feet/381 metres high, was finished the following year. The towers of the World Trade Center™, built in the early 1970s, were about 1 368 feet/417 metres tall. Many visitors to New York took the ferry to Staten Island so that they could see the Manhattan skyline, the outline of all the tallest buildings in New York.The Sears Tower in Chicago is 1 450 feet/443 metres high and is currently the second-tallest building in the US. The tallest building in the US is One World Trade Center in New York. It is 1776 feet/541 metres high, with 104 floors. The Willis Tower in Chicago is the second tallest, at 1450 feet/443 metres, with 110 floors.By comparison with skyscrapers in the US, those in Britain are rather small. The Shard (1016 feet/310 metres) near London Bridge in the City of London replaced One Canada Square (800 feet/244 metres) inCanary Wharf in London's Docklands as Britain's tallest building. Other skyscrapers in the City of London include the Lloyds Building, designed by Richard Rogers and 30 St Mary Axe (known informally as the Gherkin), designed by Norman Foster.Skyscrapers which contain people's homes are, in Britain, usually called high-rises or tower blocks. They became a common feature of British cities when hundreds of them were built to replace slums (= areas of small, old houses with few modern facilities) in the 1950s and 1960s. Many are 20 or 30 storeys high, and have several flats on each floor. At first, high-rises were welcomed because they provided cheap, modern housing but later they were not considered desirable places to live. Many suffered from lack of repair and have been pulled down. People who live in high-rises often complain that they are not private enough, that there is nowhere for children to play, and that they feel cut off from life in the street. Other people argue that the buildings provide housing for large numbers of people and that it is the failure to maintain the buildings that has made them unattractive places to live.