May
23
2009

What is the Chrysler Building?

Chrysler Building - courtesy tiseb - CC-BY

Chrysler Building - courtesy tiseb - CC-BY

The Chrysler Building is an Art Deco skyscraper in New York City.

Near the beginning of the 20th century, the race for the tallest building in the world got underway and the Chrysler Building was the first building to top the then tallest structure, the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

It was the world’s tallest building for 11 months before it was surpassed by the Empire State Building in 1931. The Chrysler Building is an example of Art Deco architecture and considered by many to be one of the finest buildings anywhere. Various architectural details and especially the building’s gargoyles were modeled after Chrysler automobile products. The corners of the 61st floor are graced with eagles, replicas of the 1929 Chrysler hood ornaments, and on the 31st floor, the corner ornamentations are replicas of the 1929 Chrysler radiator caps and the spire is modeled on a radiator grille.

The Chrysler Building passed 40 Wall Street as the tallest building in the world and also the Eiffel Tower as the tallest structure. It was the first man-made structure to top 1,000 feet.  It is still the tallest brick building in the world.

The building’s design by architect William van Alen was largely dismissed by contemporary architectural critics, who claimed “the spire’s design was kitsch and the tower nothing more than a folly.”

Even though Chrysler Corporation lost control of the building in the 1950s, the landmark still has its original name.

For more information about Art Deco architecture

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