By Lauren Brown
Special to The Signal
Ever since the dawn of the skyscraper era with the construction of the world’s first 10-story, iron-framed marvel in Chicago more than 130 years ago, cities globally have embraced and reimagined this architectural marvel — crafting skylines that are a spectacle in their own right.
The US, being a haven of architectural innovation, boasts skyscrapers that defy traditional definitions, now being recognized more for their towering heights — anything beyond 492 feet—rather than the number of floors. These towering structures are not merely landmarks; they are a testament to architectural prowess. From the famed Space Needle and Empire State Building to lesser known yet equally awe-inspiring skyscrapers, the US is home to 20 of the most breathtaking skylines.
But the allure of skylines is not reserved for large cities alone. Scattered across the American landscape are smaller towns with skylines that are nothing short of picturesque. Salem, Oregon, is a prime example, boasting a skyline that marries historic architecture, like the dignified Oregon State Capitol crowned with a gold-plated pioneer statue, with the lush allure of the Willamette Valley. Similarly, Mobile, Alabama’s skyline is a captivating blend of historic and modern architecture, set against the tranquil Mobile Bay, mirroring the city lights at night — a scene that encapsulates the city’s rich maritime heritage and southern style.
MovingFeedback.com recently carried out a survey of 3,000 seasoned domestic travelers to rank the 70 most picturesque small town skylines in America.
#1 New Bern, North Carolina
America’s most picturesque small town is New Bern in North Carolina: New Bern enchants with its historic architecture and the confluence of the Neuse and the Trent rivers. Its skyline is punctuated by the distinct silhouette of the Tryon Palace, with its colonial-era charm adding to the town’s scenic riverfront vistas.
#2 Walla Walla, Washington
Known for its lovely downtown and wine country, Walla Walla’s skyline is a blend of small-town charm and natural beauty. The Whitman College campus adds a stately presence, while the rolling hills of vineyards provide a stunning backdrop.
#3 Estes Park, Colorado
Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Estes Park’s skyline is dominated by the rugged peaks that surround it, offering a breathtaking panorama. The historic Stanley Hotel stands out, offering a glimpse into early 20th-century luxury.
#4 Ojai, California
Ojai is celebrated for its picturesque skyline, a perfect reflection of its tranquil and artistic spirit. This small town is nestled in the Ojai Valley, surrounded by the rolling hills and lush landscapes of the Topatopa Mountains, which glow with a famous pink light at sunset known as the “Pink Moment.” The skyline is characterized by Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, giving the town a distinctive and elegant aesthetic. The abundance of orange groves and the presence of verdant landscapes add to its bucolic charm.
#5 Hendersonville, North Carolina
This charming mountain town boasts a skyline filled with historic buildings and churches, set against the Blue Ridge Mountains. The historic Main Street, with its antique shops and boutiques, is the jewel in Hendersonville’s crown.
#6 Leadville, Colorado
At an elevation of 10,152 feet, Leadville’s skyline stands high amongst the clouds, with views of the two highest peaks in Colorado. The town’s Victorian architecture recalls its mining boom days, contributing to its distinct character.
#7 Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
The skyline of Bay St. Louis is a picturesque mix of coastal and historical influences, with the Bay Bridge stretching across the water. Its small-town feel is complemented by the scenic views of the Gulf.
#8 Valley City, North Dakota
Known as the ‘City of Bridges,’ Valley City’s skyline is characterized by the Highline Bridge towering over the Sheyenne River, adding structural elegance to the city’s panoramic views of lush river valleys.
#9 Bath, Maine
Bath’s skyline is defined by its maritime heritage, with the mast of historic ships and the Bath Iron Works shipyard. The Kennebec River provides a stunning waterway that enhances the city’s coastal skyline.
#10 Jonesborough, Tennessee
Tennessee’s oldest town, Jonesborough, offers a skyline that is a mix of historic homes and buildings, with the mountains providing a timeless backdrop. The town’s storytelling tradition adds an intangible charm to its scenic views.
California had two additional entries included as having among the most picturesque skylines in the country:
The town’s skyline is dominated by beautifully preserved Victorian buildings, which line its well-kept Main Street, giving it the nickname “The Victorian Village.” These ornate and colorful structures, including the iconic Ferndale Museum and numerous historic homes, showcase exquisite examples of Queen Anne and Eastlake architectural styles. Situated in the lush, green Eel River Valley, Ferndale is surrounded by pastoral landscapes and dairy farms, adding a bucolic charm to its setting.
Calistoga offers a skyline that beautifully captures its identity as a charming Napa Valley town known for its vineyards and hot springs. The town’s skyline is marked by low-rise buildings with a rustic and Western-style architectural aesthetic, reflecting its relaxed and laid-back atmosphere. Notable landmarks include the Old Faithful Geyser of California and the historic Calistoga Depot, which add unique natural and historical elements. The surrounding Napa Valley vineyards and the nearby.