Chrysler Building: New York’s Achitecture Masterpiece

Chrysler Building is one of New York’s most iconic structures, ranking as the 20th tallest building in the US. It has been part of the New York skyline for over 90 years, and it continues to be a one-of-a-kind office building.

The Bare Essentials: Chrysler Building NYC

Chrysler Building: New York's Achitecture Masterpiece

Chrysler Building New York is an Art Deco skyscraper that stands at 1,046 feet, including the spire. The top floor is 899 feet above the ground. There are 77 floors and 32 elevators. The cost of Chrysler Building was $20 million to build, and it has 1,195,000 square feet of space.

Construction finished in 1930, and it was the tallest building in the world for 11 months after. It’s still the world’s tallest brick building with a steel framework.

Architect William Van Alen designed the Chrysler Building tower. Walter Chrysler, the owner of the Chrysler Corporation, funded the construction. The Chrysler family sold the building for $18 million in 1953.

The Chrysler Building is currently used for office space, which was its original purpose. It was the headquarters for Chrysler until the family sold it.

Only the lobby is open to the public and has beautiful Art Deco designs and red marble walls. The lobby’s ceiling has an Edward Trumbull painting called “Transport and Human Endeavor.”

The Chrysler building became a National Historic Landmark in 1976. The building has been a New York City Landmark since 1978. Since then, the building’s ownership has been passed on to different entities. At this moment, about 90% of the building’s ownership is under the Abu Dhabi Investment Council.

What Does the Chrysler Building Symbolize?

The Chrysler Building represents international commerce and industry. In 1930, it stood on New York’s skyline as a show of Walter Chrysler’s affluence in the corporate world. The Chrysler Building was an office building project for William H. Reynolds, a real estate developer.

He was a former New York State senator. In 1928, the project and lease on the site were taken over by Walter P. Chrysler, the head of the Chrysler Corporation. He took over the building project to grant his sons some responsibilities.

Walter P. Chrysler had no idea that the building would be a notable architectural sensation later. Although no funds were pooled from the Chrysler Corporation, the building became its personal symbol.

Chrysler Building Gargoyles

Chrysler Building: New York's Achitecture Masterpiece
Image from Benjamin Dumas.

Walter P. Chrysler aimed to have the building carry a personal symbol and a state-of-the-art image. For this reason, the building’s architect William Van Allen had the precepts of modernism in mind.

The building is now known for its Art Deco architecture. It has a crown and spire at the top. William Van Alen’s task was to create a visual representation of art deco that symbolizes the Chrysler Corporation. 

There are about 50 metal ornaments on five floors of the building’s corners. They resemble gargoyles on Gothic cathedrals. The Chrysler Building gargoyles are like waterspouts on classical buildings designed to direct water far from the foundation. 

Other Chrysler Building Design Elements 

Besides the Chrysler Building eagles, its design includes other decorative elements. Builders and architects would compete to design skyscrapers with a sense of modernism.

There were over 4 million rivets and 10,000 bulbs used in this building. Riveting later became a thing of the past, and welding became mainstream. The riveting on the Chrysler Building remains intact and in pristine condition.

A team of experts conducts regular supervision and monitoring. All the decorative patterns on the tilework, murals, and furniture follow the principles of Art Deco. The style included a foundation, fountain, sunburst, chevron, and geometric patterns.

There are horizontal black-and-white elements between floors. The aerodynamic eagle heads and radiator caps with wings reference the Chrysler emblem.

Iconic Architecture

The structure has a steel frame and about 50 exterior metal ornaments resembling gargoyles. Some ornaments are eagles, meant to look like Chrysler hood ornaments. The Chrysler building has 3,862 exterior windows.

The most notable architecture is the top of the building, featuring the crown and spire. The crown has seven arches layered on each other like a wedding cake. The top floors serve little purpose besides appearance.

The large spire was concealed inside the crown during construction. It hid the height of the building for as long as possible. The spire is 186 feet, and it wouldn’t have been the tallest building at the time without it.

Chrysler Building vs Empire State Building

Chrysler Building vs Empire State Building

The Empire State building was completed in 1931, only 11 months after the Chrysler Building. The two were competing for the tallest building as construction was going on.

After the Empire State Building was completed, it became the world’s tallest building at the time, surpassing Chrysler Building. The Empire State Building is 204 feet taller at 1,250 feet. It’s now the most well-known New York building and one of the biggest tourist attractions because of its observation deck.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

What Tenants are in the Chrysler Building?

Creative Artists Agency, Clyde & Co, InterMedia Partners, Outfront Media, and YES Network are current tenants of the Chrysler Building. You can visit the website to learn about renting office space.

How Far is the Chrysler Building from the Empire State Building?

The Chrysler Building is 0.8 miles from the Empire State Building. So, it’s a 6-minute drive or a 15-minute walk.

Is the Chrysler Building Open to the Public?

Yes, anyone can enter the Chrysler building for free, but only the lobby is accessible since it’s an office building.

Does the Chrysler Building Have an Observation Deck?

No, there is no Chrysler Building observation deck. The building used to have a public viewing gallery on the 71st floor, but it closed in 1945. Now, only the lobby is accessible to tourists.

What’s Near the Chrysler Building?

Chrysler Building is within walking distance of Grand Central Terminal, Times Square, Bryant Park, and the AKC Museum of Dog.


The Chrysler Building was in competition with the Empire State Building for the tallest building, but today, both New York skyscrapers have been surpassed by several other buildings. Yet, they both remain memorable parts of the city’s skyline.

Chrysler Building is used for office space, but tourists can enter the lobby and admire the beautiful Art Deco design.