Chrysler Building

sights / Architecture

Chrysler Building information

New York City , USA
405 Lexington Ave
at 42nd St, Midtown East
Getting there
Subway: S, 4/5/6, 7 to Grand Central-42nd St
Opening hours
lobby 8am-6pm Mon-Fri
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Designed by Willian Van Alen in 1930, the 77-floor Chrysler Building is prime-time architecture: a fusion of Moderne and Gothic aesthetics, adorned with 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 trumped them on the skyline and with one of Gotham's most beautiful lobbies.

Indeed, while the Chrysler Building mightn't offer a restaurant or observation deck, its lobby makes for a lavish consolation prize. Here, dark, exotic African wood and marble contrast against the brash, man-made steel of industrial America. The lobby's elaborately veneered elevators are especially beautiful, their Egyptian lotus motifs made of inlaid Japanese ash, Oriental walnut and Cuban plum-pudding wood. Above is painter Edward Trumbull's ceiling mural Transport and Human Endeavor . Purportedly the world’s largest mural at 97ft by 100ft, its depiction of buildings, airplanes and industrious workers on Chrysler assembly lines shows the golden promise of industry and modernity.

More than 80 years on, Chrysler's ambitious $15 million statement remains one of New York's most poignant symbols. 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.