Is there a word that can be used to refer to cities with several tall buildings? There's an adjective, skyscraping, but that feels a little figurative. It feels a bit strange to put it as "Hong Kong is a skyscraping city."

Is there another word, a noun, that would fit better in the example sentence here?

Hong Kong is a ______. It has many tall buildings and skyscrapers, including...

(Metropolis, and the ungainly megalopolis, aren't specific enough- they attest more to the size and sprawl of a city than to the height of its buildings.)

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    Vertical city, but it usually refers to a single huge skyscraper.
    – user 66974
    Jan 31, 2023 at 17:47
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    as a english speaker in the UK it feels weird to differentiate, in the majority of cases there is no need to differentiate between cities and cities with skyscrapers/high rises, especially as the word already city has such an ambiguous and broad meaning already. Any answer you get here will probably get you weird looks if you try to use it in a country such as the UK Feb 1, 2023 at 15:45
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    In many cities, only a small area has tall buildings, and the rest is a sprawl. Feb 1, 2023 at 16:09
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    I actually like how "Hong Kong is a skyscraping city" sounds. It has a descriptive feel to it without being too poetic. The association with "skyscraper" is immediately present. As long as your need for the phrase isn't terribly formal, I would suggest you try using it.
    – CitizenRon
    Feb 2, 2023 at 14:44
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    The Greek word for "tall" suggests psilopolis, though psilo- also has the meaning of "bald" or "thinning out"... Maybe a better alternative is hypsopolis
    – user170231
    Feb 2, 2023 at 20:11

7 Answers 7


Hong Kong is a high-rise city

Merriam-Webster has

2 of, relating to, or characterized by high-rise buildings


a building (such as an apartment building) that has multiple stories and is equipped with elevators

Edit: following @EdwinAshworth's suggestion to include usage

Wikipedia has this List of tallest buildings in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has over 9,000 high-rise buildings, of which over 4,000 are skyscrapers standing taller than 100 m (328 ft) with 517 buildings above 150 m (492 ft).

and The Guardian has Get some perspective: Hong Kong high-rises – in pictures
[with pictures]

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    You might want to include an early use by Hilberseimer; Art Institute Chicago (though I don't know when the transliteration into 'high-rise city' was made). Jan 31, 2023 at 19:20
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    @EdwinAshworth thanks. I also tried Google Ngrams which doesn't give any results for "high-rise city", but shows some results for "highrise city" since the 1950s. Jan 31, 2023 at 19:31
  • Single-Word-Requests are trying to get a single word. This answer is saying "there's no such word". To see the issue, put your phrase into the OP's sentence: "Hong Kong is a high-rise city. It has many tall buildings...". Feb 1, 2023 at 1:55

Not sure there is such a word. However, you could use the noun skyscraper attributively and say that Hong Kong is a skyscraper city.

There is a facebook page with the name Skyscraper Cities and a post with the title Saving the Skyscraper Cities at world-architects.com.

Here is an Ngram link that will show you usages of this phrase.


You could call it a vertical city. An article in The Guardian uses this to mean a city with many skyscrapers.

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    this isn't what they meant, they meant a vertical city as in which is the most vertical, it's a play on words, similar to "who is the most vertical person in a family" as code for which is the tallest. The meaning is very much implied and metaphorical Feb 1, 2023 at 15:47

If we're coining words, how about "stratopolis"?

Strictly speaking, that means "layered" rather than "tall", but it's easy to understand because of the association with "stratosphere".

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    – Community Bot
    Feb 3, 2023 at 22:39

Why not coin your own word: Hong Kong is a thrilling skyscape? We can have landscapes and seascapes, so why not ...? Well, It is a real word and it does have the usage you seek. It is defined in Cambridge English Dictionary as:

a view of the sky over an area, or a work of art that represents this:

  • Your first impression as you fly into Toronto is of the stunning skyscape.

And, just to be sure that the word does apply to the built skyscape and not to the sky alone:-

Some of the windows of the museum frame the New York City streetscapes and skyscapes.

  • I quite like this one; It doesn't exactly fit the definition I'm seeking but has an excellent feel to it. Feb 1, 2023 at 17:08
  • I would say a city has a skyscape, not that it is one.
    – user253751
    Feb 1, 2023 at 17:18

There is a term Manhattanization, so you could try to formulate your sentence as

Hong Kong is a Manhattanized city.

I found this term from a link on the wikipedia page of Mainhattan, a punny name for the high-rise financial district of Frankfurt am Main. I'm not sure how widely used it is, but it should at least be fairly easy to guess the meaning.

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    Manhattan is known for a few things, such as its wealth, business, and cultural importance, so I'm not sure how obvious this specific meaning would be.
    – Stuart F
    Feb 2, 2023 at 14:37

You could maybe go with 'modern city.'

A Google Image search brings (as expected) pictures of skyscrapers.

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    This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. - From Review
    – Chenmunka
    Feb 2, 2023 at 13:59
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    @Chenmunka It certainly does provide an answer: “modern city”.
    – Tim
    Feb 2, 2023 at 17:04

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