The Chrysler Building is an Art Deco style skyscraper located on the East Side of Midtown Manhattan in New York City, at the intersection of 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue in the Turtle Bay neighborhood. At 1,046 feet, the structure was the world’s tallest building for 11 months before it was surpassed by the Empire State Building in 1931.
It is the tallest brick building in the world, with a steel structure. After the destruction of the World Trade Center, it was again the second-tallest building in New York City until December 2007, when the spire was raised onto the 1,200-foot Bank of America Tower, making the Chrysler building the third tallest building in New York. In addition, The New York Times Building, which opened in 2007, is exactly level with the Chrysler Building in height. Both buildings were then demoted to fourth tallest building in the city, when the under-construction One World Trade Center surpassed their height, and then to fifth position by 432 Park Avenue, which was completed in 2015.
The Chrysler Building is a classic example of Art Deco architecture and considered by many contemporary architects to be one of the finest buildings in New York City. In 2007, it was ranked ninth on the List of America’s Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects. It was the headquarters of the Chrysler Corporation from 1930 until the mid-1950s. Although the building was built and designed specifically for the car manufacturer, the corporation did not pay for the construction of it and never owned it, as Walter P. Chrysler decided to pay for it himself, so that his children could inherit it
The Chrysler Building was designed by architect William Can Alen. When the ground breaking occurred on September 19, 1928, there was an intense competition in New York City to build the world’s tallest skyscraper. Despite a frantic pace (the building was built at an average rate of four floors per week), no workers died during the construction of this skyscraper.
Van Alen’s original design for the skyscraper called for a decorative jewel-like glass crown. It also featured a base in which the showroom windows were tripled in height and topped by 12 stories with glass-wrapped corners, creating an impression that the tower was floating in mid-air. The height of the skyscraper was also originally designed to be 807 feet. However, the design proved to be too advanced and costly for building contractor William H. Reynolds, who disapproved of Van Alen’s original plan. The design and lease were then sold to Walter P. Chrysler, who worked with Van Alen and redesigned the skyscraper for additional stories; it was eventually revised to be 925 feet tall. As Walter Chrysler was the chairman of the Chrysler Corporation and intended to make the building into Chrysler’s headquarters, various architectural details and especially the building’s gargoyles were modeled after Chrysler automobile products like the hood ornaments of the Plymouth; they exemplify the machine age in the 1920s.
Construction commenced on September 19, 1928. In total, 391,881 rivets were used and approximately 3,826,000 bricks were manually laid, to create the non-loadbearing walls of the skyscraper. Contractors, builders and engineers were joined by other building-services experts to coordinate construction.
Prior to its completion, the building stood about even with a rival project at 40 Wall Street, designed by H. Craig Severance. Severance increased the height of his project and then publicly claimed the title of the world’s tallest building. (This distinction excluded structures that were not fully habitable, such as the Eiffel Tower. In response, Van Alen obtained permission for a 125 foot long spire and had it secretly constructed inside the frame of the building. The spire was delivered to the site in four different sections. On October 23, 1929, the bottom section of the spire was hoisted to the top of the building’s dome and lowered into the 66th floor of the building. The other remaining sections of the spire were hoisted and riveted to the first one in sequential order in just 90 minutes.