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Dac150 May 24, 2008 1:37 AM

My favorite building. Always was and always will be.

Kamatzu May 24, 2008 2:40 AM

Amazing building.

However, I would not want the job of the guy leaning on the gargoyle. Haha, do you know what he's doing up there?

Amanita May 24, 2008 4:56 PM

I would so love to sit on that gargoyle:)
And Chrysler's such a beautiful lady- she and Empire State are like the Adam and Eve of Skyscrapers.

M II A II R II K May 29, 2008 1:22 AM

Yea it's too bad there can't be more like that.

Jarrod May 29, 2008 1:52 AM

IMO, the best, most beautiful building ever built.

Double L May 29, 2008 7:12 AM

A beautiful building.

Who says that we never found an American architecture?

StarScraperCity May 30, 2008 1:41 AM

This is the peak of the art-deco style in my opinion.

M II A II R II K Jun 1, 2008 7:42 PM

Yea it would be hard to top this one if such a building exists.

Apex Jul 14, 2008 5:37 PM

Far and away the most beautiful building of all time, in my opinion.

SEPTATank Jul 14, 2008 8:52 PM

My favorite building in NYC, perhaps my favorite building in the world. The only other stuff that comes close that I've personally seen, although very different, are ancient Mediterranean buildings. They symbolize the the pinnacle of engineering, art and wealth/power of their respective ages. Every time I'm in N.Y. I stare at her from afar b/c i think her beauty is best appreaciated from a distance. Last week my wife and I were in the city and even she ackowledged how cool a building it is (and my wife barely tollerates my love of buildings at all). Liberty 1, in my hometown of Philly, is a tribute to this monument and for years I hated it b/c it cannot possibly live up to what it is trying to immitate. I've gotten over it and now appreciate Lib.1 for what it is, a nice skyscraper.

Anyone know how they keep everything so shiny? Thise of you who wanted to sit on the gargoyle should apply for a shining job.

NYC4Life Jul 15, 2008 5:49 AM

The Chrysler is a timeless and spectacular skyscraper that very few buildings will ever come close to matching. Its architecture is impressive even to this day. Too bad it was sold to a Dubai based firm, but this will forever be a New York and American icon.

BTinSF Aug 3, 2008 10:25 PM



New York as Skyscraper
The city's spirit is captured by the Chrysler Building
August 2, 2008; Page W14

Last month, Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund forked over a reported $800 million for a 90% stake in New York's Chrysler Building. As with the Japanese acquisition of the equally iconic Rockefeller Center in the late 1980s, the Chrysler purchase may not wind up being a success, financially speaking. But if it was an architectural masterpiece -- or just a chunk of New York's heart -- that the oil sheiks were after, they got it.

That New Yorkers have long been in love with the Chrysler Building is not in doubt. "You can't leave New York!" the fictional Carrie Bradshaw of "Sex and the City" implores her beau when he announces his plan to move to Napa Valley. "You're the Chrysler Building! The Chrysler would be all wrong in a vineyard." Her metaphor is well chosen: Among New York's skyscrapers, the Chrysler is New York in the way that the Twin Towers never were while they stood, notwithstanding their solemn bearing and size. Even the venerable Empire State, storied and iconic, has more mass than grace. And it's a tourist trap.
The Chrysler Building as it stood in 1930.

Not so the Chrysler, where the casual visitor cannot get beyond the lobby (though that alone is worth a trip). Instead, the building tends to be admired from afar, above all for its instantly recognizable top: the eagle-headed gargoyles, which seem ready to take wing from their perches on the 61st floor; the huge triangular windows arranged along the curves of seven concentric setbacks pushing centerward and pointing skyward; the ribbed, stainless-steel crown that sparkles by day and is lit from within at night; and, as befits any skyscraper worthy of the name, the needle-like spire.

Today, we tend to think of this design as "extravagant," "exuberant," "swaggering" or "brash" -- words that could just as well describe the city in which the building stands. Early appraisals were less generous: An "upended swordfish" is how one critic saw it. A "stunt design," said another.

Indeed, it was a stunt. Architect William Van Alen's original plan called for a fairly ordinary 56-story tower topped by a glass dome. Owner Walter P. Chrysler had the more ambitious idea of putting up the tallest building in the world. Plans changed first to a 67-story, 808-foot design; then to a 77-story, 925-foot one. The building reached its ultimate height of 1,046 feet in October 1929 only with the addition of the spire, constructed in secret and hoisted into place almost immediately after its nearest skyscraper rival, Wall Street's Bank of Manhattan, had topped out at 927 feet.

The Bank of Manhattan was designed by architect H. Craig Severance, a former partner of Van Alen who later became a personal rival. That ego, ambition and vanity (Van Alen's as well as Chrysler's) had so much to do with the Chrysler's ultimate design is not incidental to its attraction: These qualities, too, are pure New York.

Yet it is not simply on account of height that the Chrysler Building earns its status as a masterpiece. Nor is it, quite, for the legends the building evokes: of photographer Margaret Bourke-White, who so loved the building that she applied for a janitorial position there in the hopes of being allowed to live in it (she was turned down); or of the members of the old Cloud Club -- boxer Gene Tunney, financier E.F. Hutton, aviation mogul Juan Trippe and publisher Condé Nast among them -- stashing their Prohibition-era booze in hieroglygh-encoded cabinets; or of the mysterious goings on in the building's top floors, rumored to be a U.S. government listening post. (The Chrysler has a direct line of sight to the nearby United Nations.)

Rather, what distinguishes the Chrysler is its ability to inspire, as few modern buildings do, a sense of fantasy. For one thing, it achieves a skyscraper's fundamental task: It soars. From its first recess, just above the Lexington Avenue entrance, it follows an uninterrupted vertical path directly to the 68th floor, and only then begins to taper toward the spire.

Then there is the way the building remains perennially modern, perhaps because it is forever the past's imagining of the future. The entrances -- framed in black granite, zig-zagging patterns of metal and opaque yellow glass -- seem drawn from Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" or a Batman comic.

Inside the lobby, one finds "a dark, bizarre cavern of crystalline angles and indirect lighting behind onyx stone, more the kind of place to encounter a Valkyrie than make a business appointment," as architecture critic Eric Nash has written. A superb mural by Edward Turnbull, about two-thirds the size of the Sistine Chapel's, decorates the ceiling. It is called "Energy, Result, Workmanship and Transportation," and its centerpiece is an image of the Chrysler Building itself. It is an optimistic scene, very different from Marxist-inspired murals that Mexico's Diego Rivera would paint in New York for his Rockefeller and New School patrons just a few years later.

Nor is the mural the only way in which the Chrysler is like no other building. Consider the elevators, 32 in all, each paneled in exotic woods, each masterfully decorated with Art Deco motifs and -- what's extraordinary -- no two of them alike.

And finally -- again -- there is that fabled Chrysler top. Today's tall buildings (few of which really deserve to be called skyscrapers) are often nothing more than stacks of all but identical floors, none really different from the other except, perhaps, for the view. Not so in the Chrysler Building, where the highest nine stories become progressively smaller as they rise toward the vanishing point. Seen from within, it conveys the sensation of an aerie, or a crow's nest, or a mountaintop -- not merely a higher place, but another world.

Is there some other skyscraper that succeeds this way -- that sets the hearts of nearly all those who see it aflutter? One can only hope its new owners feel the same way about this joyful building, surely the most brilliant jewel in their crown.

Mr. Stephens writes "Global View," the Journal's foreign-affairs column.

BTinSF Aug 3, 2008 10:35 PM

Some pictures I took last winter:

NYC4Life Aug 4, 2008 5:08 AM

King Kong should climb the Chrysler.

Atomic Glee Aug 8, 2008 9:52 PM

It's one of those buildings that makes you want to simultaneously weep and sing. The greatest skyscraper of all time, now and forever.

DecoJim Aug 8, 2008 11:50 PM

I agree with all of the above. It often appears on the cover of books about Art Deco. It is the architectural epitome of Art Deco.

First 2 pictures - nice digital rendering by the way.

Ottawade Aug 10, 2008 4:46 AM

I just returned from my first ever visit from NYC. The entire city is amazing in so many ways, but one very memorable thing I took away is that the Chrysler building is beyond any doubt my favorite building in the world. Everything about its style is executed perfectly.

HomeInMyShoes Sep 3, 2008 11:50 PM


Cypherus Sep 5, 2008 6:07 AM

This building will forever be iconic. To this day, it still holds its own as one of the best skyscrapers ever built.

Stratosphere Sep 5, 2008 6:33 AM

The fish-scale crown is so beautiful, it was actually the inspiration for Helmut Jahn's One Liberty Place.

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