Interesting facts about the Chrysler Building

chrysler building

The Chrysler Building is an Art Deco-style skyscraper located on the East Side of Midtown Manhattan in New York City.

It was was the world’s tallest building for 11 months before it was surpassed by the Empire State Building in 1931.

Standing 319 meters (1047 feet) high, the Chrysler Building houses 77 floors, including a lobby three stories high.

The Chrysler Building was designed by architect William Van Alen for a project of Walter P. Chrysler.

It was built at a cost of $20 million.

Construction commenced on September 19, 1928. At that time there was an intense competition in New York City to build the world’s tallest skyscraper.

Upon completion on May 27, 1930, the added height of the spire allowed the Chrysler Building to surpass a rival project at 40 Wall Street as the tallest building in the world and the Eiffel Tower as the tallest structure.

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The Chrysler Building is still the tallest brick building in the world.

In total, 391,881 rivets and 29,961 tons of steel were used, and approximately 3,826,000 bricks were manually laid, to create the non-loadbearing walls of the skyscraper.

The building is clad in white brick and dark gray brickwork is used as horizontal decoration to enhance the window rows.

There are a total of 3,862 windows that gaze out on New York.

chrysler building windows

The Chrysler Building is renowned and recognized for its terraced crown. Composed of seven radiating terraced arches, Van Alen’s design of the crown is a cruciform groin vault constructed into seven concentric members with transitioning setbacks, mounted up one behind another.

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The stainless-steel cladding is ribbed and riveted in a radiating sunburst pattern with many triangular vaulted windows, transitioning into smaller segments of the seven narrow setbacks of the facade of the terraced crown.

chrysler building crown

There are many elements of the building meant to be a subtle nod to Chrysler’s automobile empire – hubcaps, fenders, and radiator caps. The famous eagle gargoyles are even reminiscent of an actual Chrysler hood ornament.

chrysler building eagle gargoyles

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 three stories high, upwards tapering entrance lobby has a triangular form, with entrances from three sides, Lexington Avenue, 42nd and 43rd Streets. The lobby is lavishly decorated with Red Moroccan marble walls, sienna-coloured floor and onyx, blue marble and steel in Art Deco compositions.

chrysler building lobby

The ceiling of the lobby is painted with a mural by Edward Trumbull entitled “Transport and Human Endeavor.” The mural depicts scenes from Chrysler’s own assembly line, Charles Lindbergh flying The Spirit of St. Louis across the Atlantic and The Chrysler Building itself.

chrysler building mural

There are 32 elevators in the Chrysler Building – four banks of eight elevators. They are beautifully inlaid with intricate designs.

chrysler building elevators

There are two sets of lighting in the top spires and decoration. The first are the V-shaped lighting inserts in the steel of the building itself. Added later were groups of floodlights that are on mast arms directed back at the building. This allows the top of the building to be lit in many colors for special occasions.

chrysler building at night

When the building first opened, it contained a public viewing gallery on the 71st floor, which was closed to the public in 1945.

The Chrysler Building is considered a leading example of Art Deco architecture.

It is also considered by many contemporary architects to be one of the finest buildings in New York City.

The building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976, and a New York City Landmark in 1978.

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In 2009, the Chrysler Building went through a retrofit, gaining the certification LEED Gold for Existing Buildings.

New York’s Skyscraper Museum polled one hundred architects, builders, critics, engineers and historians in 2005, asking them to choose their favorite buildings in New York. The Chrysler Building came in first. Ninety percent of those polled placed in on their top-ten list.

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The Chrysler family sold the building in 1953. Though the building still bears their name, they do not own it.

After the building was erected, architect Van Alen asked Chrysler for 6 percent of the building’s construction budget, a figure that was the standard fee of the time but Chrysler refused to pay him. He believed Van Alen was working with building contractors on shady financial arrangements, and refused to be a part of it. Van Alen sued. He did eventually get his money, but not until after his reputation was tarnished.

Though the building was done very quickly, with an average of 4 floors per week built, no one was killed during the construction.

A major restoration of the landmark structure was conducted in the early 1980s.

The Chrysler Building has been shown in several movies that take place in New York.

The lobby of the Chrysler Building contains the world’s very first digital clock.

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