Beautifully reflective of the Jazz Age, heralded as the classic example of Art Deco architecture, the Chrysler Building rises formidably at seventy-seven stories. The tower tapers in a luminous stainless steel crown spire that pierces the New York City skyline at a gigantic 1048 feet. Its construction began in 1928, completed by 1930, making it the world’s tallest building, even if just for eleven months. Barely a year later, it was soon surpassed by our all-time favorite—the Empire State Building.
Impressively, it was one of the first skyscrapers to extensively use stainless steel over an exposed building surface; it is still the tallest brick structure in the world. Overall, it remains the third tallest skyscraper—an impressive feat having been built 86 years ago! Located at 42nd St and Lexington, the Chrysler Building was designed by architect William Van Alen for a project on behalf of William H. Reynolds.
Part of the frantic competition in New York City to build the world’s tallest skyscraper, it was only intended to be a speculative office building. However, the design was ultimately sold to the car manufacturer Walter P. Chrysler, who paid for it himself, so his family could eventually inherit it. Despite the fast pace of construction—four floors were approximately completed per week—no workers were killed during the process, which was groundbreaking for the time.
Have you ever noticed the eagle gargoyles that guard the corners of the 61st floor? They were modeled after Chrysler automobile products similar to the hood ornaments of the 1929 Chrysler, which exemplify the glory of the 1920s machine age.
Since 1976, the Chrysler Building was declared a National Historic Landmark, confirming its significance in the New York City skyline. If we can only take one lesson away from its inception, it is that striking design not only builds a brand, but demands an influence that lasts forever. When deciding what kind of impression you want to create, always consider who your target audience is, and how you to want uniquely to capture their attention.