The 77-floor Chrysler Building makes most other skyscrapers look like uptight geeks. Designed by Willian Van Alen in 1930, it's a dramatic fusion of art deco and Gothic aesthetics, adorned with stern steel eagles and topped by a spire that screams Bride of Frankenstein. The building was constructed as the headquarters for Walter P Chrysler and his automobile empire. Unable to compete on the production line with bigger rivals Ford and General Motors, Chrysler decided to trump them on the skyline. More than 80 years on, Chrysler's ambitious $15 million statement remains one of New York's most poignant symbols.
Although the Chrysler Building has no restaurant or observation deck, its lobby is a lavish consolation prize.
For a great view of the Chrysler Building, head to the corner of Third Ave and 44th St, from where you can appreciate the building's slimline profile, gargoyles and spire in one hit. If you have binoculars, bring them for a close-up view of the facade's detailing, which includes basket-weave motifs and a band of abstract automobiles. Alternatively, head to the top of the Chrysler Building's taller rival, the Empire State Building, where pay-per-view telescopes will get you up close and personal with that gleaming steel spire.