THE CHRYSLER BUILDING
405 Lexington Avenue, New York
As the economy was booming in the 1920s, fierce competition arose in New York City to create the world's tallest building. The owner of Chrysler Corporation, Walter Chrysler, was one of the main competitors, and intended to make his new building the headquarters of his company. He paid the construction fees himself, wanting his children to inherit it later on.
Construction of the Chrysler Building started in 1928 and continued quickly, with about 4 floors built per week. Chrysler kept the height of his building a secret, hoping to surpass his rivals, who were building 40 Wall Street and the Empire State Building at the same time. He had a 197-foot spire constructed secretly inside the building, and in 1930, he had it lifted to the top in just 90 minutes. With the new spire added, the Chrysler Building was complete at 1048 ft, surpassing 40 Wall Street and becoming the tallest building in the world... until the Empire State Building claimed the title 11 months later.
William Van Alen
The Chrysler building is purely an office building, having started out as the headquarters of the Chrysler Corporation until they sold it and moved out in 1953. It has been occupied by various tenants since then.
When it first opened, there was a public observation deck at 783 ft in the sky on the 71st floor, but it was closed in 1945 and changed to an office space. There was also a private lunch club, the 'Cloud Club' on the 66th - 68th floors. It was used as a lunch/restaurant spot for over 300 members of New York City's business elite, and Walter Chrysler even had a private dining room on the 2nd floor of the club. The Cloud Club closed in the late 1970s and is now being used as office space. While it served as the Chrysler Corporation Headquarters, an automobile showroom existed on the first and second floors. Walter Chrysler also had his own private apartment and office on the top floor.
The Chrysler Building boasts a leading example of Art-Deco architecture, with its various ornamental elements. It's design was customized and built using material crafted in sheet metal shops on the 65th and 66th floors, the same shops that also created the spire. Since it was built for the Chrysler Corporation, there are many elements of the building that subtly symbolize the car manufacturer. For example, the spire was inspired by a car radiator grill, and the eagle gargoyle
sculptures that sit below the building's crown are symbolic of the hood ornament on Chrysler cars.
The Chrysler Building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976, and a New York City Landmark in 1978. It has become an icon, featured in numerous movies, tv series and video games, including "The Avengers" and Grand Theft Auto IV".