In the 1880s, in both Chicago and New York, the term "skyscraper" was applied to tall buildings.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
1. Naut. A triangular sky-sail.
1794 Rigging & Seamanship 135 Sky-scrapers. These sails are triangular... The foot spreads half of the royal yards. 1797 S. JAMES Narr. Voy. 52 Four vessels hove in sight..with..royals and skyscrapers set. 1860 Slang Dict. 217 The light sails which some adventurous skippers set above the royals in calm latitudes are termed sky-scrapers and moon-rakers.
a. A high-standing horse.
[A horse named Skyscraper, sired by Highflyer, won the Epsom Derby in 1789: 1788 Racing Calendar 269 Mr. Dutton named the D. of Bedford's c. Skyscraper, by Highflyer. 1810 T. H. MORLAND Geneal. English Race Horse 147 Skyscraper mare produced Brainworm by Buzzard. Ibid. 160 [Death] Skyscraper, 1807.]
1826 HONE Every-day Bk. II. 461 The huntsmen were all abroad.., trotting..down the road, on great nine-hand sky-scrapers. 1827 Sporting Mag. (N.S.) XX. 48, I should like to see him upon one of the crack Sky-scrapers of the day.
b. A very tall man.
1857 Slang Dict. 19, I say, old sky-scraper, is it cold up there?
c. A rider on one of the high cycles formerly in use.
1892 Daily News 7 Mar. 6/6 Riders of the ordinary [cycle]..are few and far between, and are often derisively styled 'sky-scrapers'.
d. A tall hat or bonnet. Obs.
1800 W. SCOTT Let. 5 Apr. (1937) XII. 159 The trumpets call me to swagger in a cockd skyscraper and sword. 1847 J. A. EAMES Budget of Lett. 397 She gave me a black silk bonnet..which stuck right up in the air after the fashion of the old 'sky scrapers'.
e. In Baseball, Cricket, etc., a ball propelled high in the air; a towering hit, a skyer.
1866 N.Y. Herald 27 June 5/5 Goodspeed made three handsome fly catches; Mehl, Sweet and Dupignac each paying their share of attention to the 'skyscrapers'. 1907 St. Nicholas (N.Y.) Sept. 996 A 'skyscraper' throw to first. 1943 Amer. Speech XVIII. 104 Fly balls include the skyscraper, the cloud-buster, [etc.].
3. An exaggerated or 'tall' story. nonce-use.
1841 LEVER C. O'Malley xxxiii, My yarn won't come so well after your sky-scrapers of love.
4. A high building of many stories, esp. one of those characteristic of American cities.
[1883 J. MOSER in Amer. Architect & Building News 30 June 305 The capitol building should always have a dome. I should raise thereon a gigantic 'sky-scraper', contrary to all precedent in practice.] 1888 Inter-Ocean 30 Dec. 10/5 The 'sky-scrapers' of Chicago outrival anything of their kind in the world. 1891 Boston (Mass.) Jrnl. Nov., How the sky-scrapers are built.
Hence sky-scrapered a., characterized by the presence of or full of sky-scrapers; surrounded by sky-scrapers; built very tall.
1947 Ann. Reg. 1946 212 The new home [for the U.N.] would be sky-scrapered, congested and expensive.
25 February 1883, Chicago Daily Tribune, pg. 9:
NEW YORK GOSSIP.
New Developments in Architect-
ure -- The High-Build-
There are more very high buildings in New York than in all the rest of the country put together, and a meeting of indignant philanthropists has been held to protest against the tendency and procure the passage of laws to prohibit it. They were mostly old fellows, slow of speech, cautious of action, into whose brains new ideas trickled slow.
It is a fact that the highest buildings in the city -- the Tribune Building, the Western Union Building, the Mills Building, the Borost Building, the Equitable Building, Temple Court, and the twenty or thirty piles of eight-story flats--have given the most perfect satisfaction, and have proved the most remunerative property there is.
13 January 1889, Chicago Daily Tribune, pg. 2:
Interesting Facts About Three Tall Buildings.