25 Most Beautiful City Skylines in the U.S., Ranked by GDP
A city's majestic skyline may draw us in with its beauty and energy, but the first glance is only skin deep. These city skylines are not only some of the most majestic in the country. The cities, themselves, all have something wonderful to offer prospective residents.
If you're looking to relocate, one or more of the cities on the list may have something you're looking for when it comes to work-life balance.
25. Charleston Skyline
GDP: $46 billion
Bottom Line: Charleston
Once the fourth-largest city in colonial America, Charleston, South Carolina, is home to the first museum, public college and playhouse in the country. While not laden with skyscrapers, Charleston is uniquely pretty and inviting.
Today, its size is eclipsed by bigger places like New York and Los Angeles, but Charleston is home to employers in the aerospace, automotive, IT, defense, energy, engineering, and life sciences sectors.
Joint Base Charleston (the Air Force base) has the most employees in the area, with more than 22,000 workers. The Medical University of South Carolina employs 13,000 people.
While Boeing's headquarters are in Chicago, its Charleston plant employs about 7,000 people.
24. Honolulu Skyline
GDP: $69 billion
Bottom Line: Honolulu
The sheer beauty of Hawaii (and Honolulu's skyline) is unmatched, which is why tourism continues to be one of the biggest industries for this state.
Defense, agriculture and fishing also drive the state's economy. Aloha Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines and American Savings Bank are just a few businesses operating out of Honolulu.
23. New Orleans Skyline
GDP: $80 billion
Bottom Line: New Orleans
Founded in 1718 by explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, the Louisiana city was, at that time, merely a trading camp on the Mississippi and has always had a very French flavor, making it unlike any city in the United States.
The first "skyscraper" in New Orleans was erected in 1807 and was a whopping four stories. It is still in use today in the French Quarter on the corner of Royal and St. Peter Streets.
If you're thinking of looking for a job in the city, the top industries are chemical, petroleum, coal products and tourism.
22. Las Vegas Skyline
GDP: $122 billion
Bottom Line: Las Vegas
If you love the feel of New York or Los Angeles, but not all the time, you can move to Las Vegas, Nevada, which has all the elements of the major coastal cities but (depending on where you live) also the quiet of a suburban or rural area. The Vegas Strip is a big part of the skyline and when you're coming to the city from the vastness of the desert, it's simply breathtaking.
Entertainment, gambling and tourism are Vegas's main industries, but IT, manufacturing and aerospace are also major employers. Companies based in Sin City include Zappos, Allegiant and Asurion.
New businesses and neighborhoods are cropping up daily as the city continues to grow.
GDP: $136 billion
Bottom Line: Nashville
Tennesse's Music City has grown exponentially over the past 20 years, as people have flocked to the city due to its inexpensive cost of living and business opportunities.
Of course, the music business is what brings people here, but healthcare, transportation, banking, and finance are also driving industries.
HCA Healthcare, Dollar General, Community Health Systems, Delek US Holdings and Tractor Supply are just some of the businesses headquartered here.
20. Cincinnati Skyline
GDP: $141 billion
Bottom Line: Cincinnati
The city's panoramic skyline sits next to the Ohio River and the historic Roebling Suspension Bridge and has welcomed an influx of new residents in the past few years. Why? Cincinnati is relatively inexpensive compared to other major cities, it has a massive park system, diverse neighborhoods, and there is a booming job market.
Healthcare is one of the main industries in the Queen City. UC Health and Tri Health employ thousands. Manufacturing is also big here. Mitsubishi Automotive Electric America and Toyota Boshoku America are also major employers.
19. Pittsburgh Skyline
GDP: $153 billion
Bottom Line: Pittsburgh
If you like bridges, look no further than Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Its unofficial moniker is the City of Bridges because it has nearly 450 of them, which is more than any other city in the world.
From the late 1800s through the mid-1900s, Pittsburgh was a major center of industry in the United States and powered the country's economy with its production of raw materials. Due to the collapse of the steel industry, it fell on hard times, but it's also making a comeback.
Today, its main industries are high-tech, manufacturing and construction.
18. Portland Skyline (Oregon)
GDP: $164 billion
Bottom Line: Portland
When you first see the Rose City's skyline against the backdrop of Mount Hood, you'll immediately realize that it is the perfect blend of urban meets outdoors. You can leave your home in downtown and get to the beach, the mountains or lush green forests within 90 minutes.
Portland is a small city that is easy to navigate. Its public transportation system (light rail, streetcar, buses) makes it easy to not have a car, or you can easily cover it by bike. The city is home to Voodoo Doughnut, Powells Books, Wieden+Kennedy, Nike and Columbia Sportswear.
17. Austin Skyline
GDP: $168 billion
Bottom Line: Austin
The fourth-most populated Texas city, Austin combines the beauty of nature with the fast pace of the big city. Austin's motto "Keep Austin Weird" shows how proud its residents are of its uniqueness.
The Music Capital of the World not only has entertainment as one of its main industries, but it's also a major tech center, with Apple and Amazon employing thousands. Dell, Oracle and Tesla are based here as well.
16. St. Louis Skyline
GDP: $170 billion
Bottom Line: St. Louis
The St. Louis arch is the focal point of this Missouri city's glorious skyline. If you dig a little deeper, you'll find that the people that live there say it has a big-city feel with small-town charm. The cost of living is fairly low, too.
If you're looking for work in the Gateway to the West, the main industries are aviation, biotechnology, chemicals, financial services, life sciences, medical research, plant sciences, refining, telecommunications and transportation.
15. Charlotte Skyline
GDP: $170 billion
Bottom Line: Charlotte
Charlotte is one of two cities growing by leaps and bounds in North Carolina (Raleigh is the other) as people are flocking here from larger cities because of the lower cost of living and a more relaxed lifestyle in mind.
Banking and finance, manufacturing, energy, automotive, healthcare, tech and retail are drivers for this city's economy. Some big business names are based here, including NASCAR, Wells Fargo, Dillard's and Dollar Tree.
14. Detroit Skyline
GDP: $268 billion
Bottom Line: Detroit
Admittedly, Detroit, Michigan, has seen some tough times in the past 50-odd years, but the city seems to be making a bit of a comeback. Real estate prices are lower here than in major cities. If you're looking for homes or office space downtown that needs a little love, there are plenty of buildings with old-school character to be had here.
The Motor City's main industries are now defense, logistics, healthcare, and IT. And believe it or not, the "Big Three" — GM, Ford, and Chrysler— are still based in this city.
13. Denver Skyline
GDP: $227 billion
Bottom Line: Denver
Colorado's Mile High City is one of the most picturesque and walkable towns in the U.S. If you're an outdoors-minded person, this may be the place for you, as Denver boasts 200 parks within city limits and 20,000 acres of parkland in the surrounding areas.
Denver's main industries are aerospace, bioscience, broadcast and telecommunications, energy, financial services, healthcare and wellness, and IT.
Should you wish to start a career in Denver Boston Market, Coors, Jolly Rancher, and Frontier Airlines are just a few of the businesses based here.
12. Miami Skyline
GDP: $389 billion
Bottom Line: Miami
Sunny skies and warm temperatures bring people to Miami, Florida, all year round. The area was first settled in 1566 by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés who claimed it for Spain. The city was founded by Julia Tuttle, who convinced railroad tycoon Henry Flagler to extend his railway to the region. In 1896, Miami became a city of just 300 people and has grown quickly since.
Many major companies have headquarters in Miami, including Cisco, Lennar Corporation, and World Fuel Services. The city's port is also the largest cruise ship port in the world, with over 5 million travelers making the journey each year.
11. Boston Skyline
GDP: $413 billion
Bottom Line: Boston
Boston plays a big part in colonial American history. It was here in Massachusetts that the famed Tea Party and Paul Revere's Midnight Ride took place.
Today, the city boasts strong employment in biotechnology, engineering, higher education, maritime trade, information technology, finance, and tourism. Some of the industries headquartered here include Iron Mountain, Wayfair and Gillette.
10. Atlanta Skyline
GDP: $432 billion
Bottom Line: Atlanta
Founded in 1837, the formerly named town of Marthasville has become one of the biggest cities in the U.S. The Peachtree City is now a major transportation hub and is home to the world's busiest airport.
Some big multinational companies with headquarters in Atlanta include Coca-Cola, Home Depot, UPS, AT&T, Delta Airlines and Chik-fil-A.
The Georgia city is also known as the "Hollywood of the South." In 2018, 455 movies and shows were produced in and around the city.
9. Seattle Skyline
GDP: $444 billion
Bottom Line: Seattle
This Pacific Northwest city was founded in 1851 by the Denny Party, but it didn't really gain popularity until the 1896 Klondike Gold Rush.
Today, its famous skyline boasts the Space Needle, and the city is home to famed businesses such as Starbucks, Amazon and Microsoft, which are all headquartered there.
If you like tech, the outdoors, and plenty of rain, this is the place to be.
8. Philadelphia Skyline
GDP: $457 billion
Bottom Line: Philadelphia
Philly, like Boston, is central to this country's beginnings. The first daily newspaper, the first zoo, the first hospital and first medical school in the country were all located in the City of Brotherly Love. It is still a place of innovation today, and its skyline boasts the modern with the historical.
This Pennsylvania city has a world-renowned medical sector. One out of six doctors in the U.S. is trained here. The city also boasts employers like IBM, Comcast and Lockheed Martin.
7. Houston Skyline
GDP: $489 billion
Bottom Line: Houston
Founded in1836 by the Allen brothers, Houston is the fourth-largest U.S. city in population but will likely become third in the second half of the 2020s. The Texas city is also the most ethnically diverse in the county with over 145 languages spoken by residents.
Oil and gas, healthcare, biomedical research, and aerospace are driving forces in Houston's economy, and several Fortune 500 companies, including Sysco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Halliburton, and Occidental Petroleum are all based here.
6. Dallas Skyline
GDP: $524 billion
Bottom Line: Dallas
The third-largest city in Texas and the ninth-largest in the country, Dallas is the largest inland city in the country without a link to a major body of water. Nevertheless, the stunning skyline features "The Ball," a noteworthy staple of the skyline for more than four decades.
The Big D is home to nearly two dozen Fortune 500 companies, including ExxonMobil, Southwest Airlines, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, JCPenney and Texas Instruments. Its biggest industries are defense, financial services, IT, energy and telecommunications.
5. Washington, D.C., Skyline
GDP: $579 billion
Bottom Line: Washington, D.C.
While the city is not filled with high rises, one only has to look at the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Monument, and the Capitol Building among other historical American landmarks to see its majesty.
And if you want a career in national politics, there's only one place to be. However, there are other companies headquartered here, should you want to do something not in politics, directly anyway. Amtrak, the USPS and the American Red Cross all call Washington home.
4. San Francisco Skyline
GDP: $594 million
Bottom Line: San Francisco
San Francisco's skyline is a modern downtown that rises up against more modest homes from the turn of the last century, and with Golden Gate partially enveloped in the city's famous fog, it can be quite a site.
We won't kid you and tell you San Francisco, California, is an easy move. It's very expensive, and rentals are costly and limited. IT, social media, biotech, clean tech and international business are the city's main industries. Twitter, Gap/Old Navy, Pottery Barn, Mother Jones, Williams Sonoma and the Sierra Club are all based in the City by the Bay.
3. Chicago Skyline
GDP: $715 billion
Bottom Line: Chicago
Chicago's famed skyline sits next to Lake Michigan and boasts the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower, which held the title as the tallest building in the U.S. for about 25 years), the John Hancock Center, and the neo-Gothic Tribune Tower. The Illinois city is currently the third largest in the U.S. It is home to vibrant industries such as transportation and distribution, manufacturing, publishing, insurance, finance, and food processing.
Boeing, Motorola, United Airlines and McDonald’s are just some of the 36 Fortune 500 companies that have headquarters here.
2. Los Angeles Skyline
GDP: $1.1 trillion
Bottom Line: Los Angeles
Downtown Los Angeles wasn't an area people lived after work hours. When the day ended, they'd go to other parts of the California city, and the place was a ghost town.
But DTLA has had new life breathed into it over the past few decades. While there are still plenty of issues, condo after condo has sprung up (as have skyscrapers), and the restoration of older theaters, restaurants and office buildings is taking place at a record pace.
Virgin Hyperloop, Evite and Joymode are just some of the companies headquartered in the downtown area, and should you choose to venture into Hollywood, Burbank, and beyond, you'll find the headquarters of the major film studios, record companies, aerospace companies, and even tech firms.
1. New York Skyline
GDP: $1.87 trillion
Bottom Line: New York
The Big Apple, the City that Never Sleeps, the City So Nice, They Named It Twice. You can't beat New York City when it comes to skyline views and pretty much everything else. Sure, living in the city isn't cheap, but the opportunity here is endless.
The city's main industries are finance, advertising, fashion, and the arts, and there are so many companies headquartered in New York City they are almost too numerous to mention.
But we will anyway — IBM, Deloitte PepsiCo, JPMorgan Chase Co., Citigroup and Conde Nast are just a few names you may be familiar with.