Chrysler Building | An Elegant & Iconic Symbol of a Bygone Era

by Denise Marie

New York City’s skyline has been anchored by a number of iconic and beautiful skyscrapers over the years, including the Empire State Building, the World Trade Center, the new One World Trade Center, and of course, the sleek and elegant Chrysler Building.

The Chrysler Building stands tall on 42nd and Lexington Avenues, towering over midtown Manhattan just to the northeast of its rival Art Deco masterpiece, the Empire State Building. For a brief period of time after its completion in May 1930, the Chrysler Building stood as the tallest in the world. However, that prestigious title lasted less than a year, until it was bypassed by the spire that was installed on the top of the Empire State Building.

Today, the Chrysler Building still helps anchor and define the New York City skyline, alongside its famous contemporaries. Its graceful form has been featured in countless movies, including The Devil Wears Prada, Spiderman and Serendipity.

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Classic Art Deco Design
While the taller Empire State Building may draw more attention and more movie roles, many architects widely consider the Chrysler Building to be the more beautiful of the two skyscrapers. It was one of the last of the great Art Deco buildings, designed specifically for the Chrysler car company. It also served as the company’s headquarters well into the 1950’s.

You can see the influence of the automotive inspiration in many of the Art Deco design features, particularly in the famous gargoyles which were modeled after Chrysler hood ornaments. As well, the spire on top of the building was inspired by a radiator grille.

The terraced steel crown of the building is what really sets the Chrysler Building apart. It was designed in a sunburst pattern, and is a classic example of the sleek lines and beauty of the 1920’s Art Deco style.

Visiting the Chrysler Building
One of the most notable differences between the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building is that the Chrysler Building is not open to the public. There was once a public viewing on the 71st floor, but that was closed down in the 1940’s. There was also a private dining club called The Cloud Club inside, but that too closed in the 1970’s.

The building is currently occupied by private business offices, and you will only get as far as the lobby if you stop by. However, it is still well worth a visit, just to admire the lobby’s breathtaking ceiling mural designed by Edward Trumbull, as well as its gleaming marble floors, and the unique wood and inlay on the elevator doors.

So, if you want to admire the beauty of this Art Deco gem, you’re going to be standing outside. The best view from the street is at the corner of 3rd Ave and 44th St. It is a great idea to bring your telephoto lens or even a pair of binoculars to get a closer look at the entire building.

If you don’t feel like craning your neck, the other great way to admire the beauty of the Chrysler Building is to stop by its rival. For a few coins, you can use the pay telescopes at the northeast corner of the Observation Deck at the Empire State Building, which will give you a clear and level view of the world famous and awe-inspiring Chrysler Building crown.

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