Completed in 1930, the Chrysler Building is a distinctive symbol of New York City, standing 1046 feet (319 meters) high on the east side of Manhattan at the intersection of 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue. Originally built for the Chrysler Corporation, the building is presently co-owned by TMW Real Estate (75%) and Tishman Speyer Properties (25%). The Chrysler building was designed by William van Alen for a contractor, William H. Reynolds. The design was subsequently sold to Walter P. Chrysler as a home for his company's headquarters.
At the time the building was erected, the builders of New York were in the throes of a stiff competition to build the world'Skyscraper" title ="Skyscraper">skyscraper. The Chrysler building was constructed at an average rate of 4 floors per week, and no workers were killed during construction. Just prior to completion, the building stood even with H. Craig Severance'40_Wall_Street" title ="40 Wall Street">40 Wall Street. Mr. Severance subsequently added two feet to his building, and claimed the title of the world'Eiffel_Tower" title ="Eiffel Tower">Eiffel Tower.)
Not one to be outdone, Mr. van Alen had already secretly obtained permission to build a 125 foot (38.1 metre) spire, which was being constructed inside of the building. The spire, composed of Nirosta stainless steel, was hoisted to the top of the building one afternoon in November, 1929, making the Chrysler Building not only the world's tallest building, but also the world'Empire_State_Building" title ="Empire State Building">Empire State Building. Unfortunately, Mr. van Alen's satisfaction was muted by Walter Chrysler's refusal to pay his fee.
The lobby is similarly elegant. When the building first opened it contained a public viewing gallery near the top, which a few years later was changed into a restaurant, but neither of these enterprises were able to be financially self sustaining during the Great Depression and the former observation floor became a private club. The very top stories of the building are narrow with low sloped ceilings, designed mostly for exterior appearance with interiors useful only to hold radio broadcasting and other mechanical & electrical equipment.
The Chrysler Building was largely panned by critics at the time for its supposedly "frivolous" decoration, straying from strict functionalist modernism. The general public, however, quickly regarded it with admiration and affection. With time it came to be regarded by many as the finest architectural expression of the boom times of the 1920s.
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