Chrysler Building
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Architect William Van Alen
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Location New York, New York   map
Date 1928 to 1930   timeline
Building Type skyscraper, commercial office tower
 Construction System steel frame, metal cladding
Climate temperate
Context urban
Style Art Deco
Notes Stainless steel metal ornamented top. Automobile-derived ornamental details. Elegant lobby.


Photo, view from sidewalk

Photo, top of tower with city scape

Photo, detail of top of tower


Detail Drawing

Detail Drawing



Plan Drawing

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Discussion Chrysler Building Commentary

"Art Deco in France found its American equivalent in the design of the New York skyscrapers of the 1920s. The Chrysler Building...was one of the most accomplished essays in the style."

— John Julius Norwich, ed. The World Atlas of Architecture. p366.

"The design, originally drawn up for building contractor William H. Reynolds, was finally sold to Walter P. Chrysler, who wanted a provocative building which would not merely scrape the sky but positively pierce it. Its 77 floors briefly making it the highest building in the world—at least until the Empire State Building was completed—it became the star of the New York skyline, thanks above all to its crowning peak. In a deliberate strategy of myth generation, Van Alen planned a dramatic moment of revelation: the entire seven-storey pinnacle, complete with special-steel facing, was first assembled inside the building, and then hoisted into position through the roof opening and anchored on top in just one and a half hours. All of a sudden it was there—a sensational fait accompli."

— Peter Gossel and Gabriele Leuthauser. Architecture in the Twentieth Century. p209.

"One of the first uses of stainless steel over a large exposed building surface. The decorative treatment of the masonry walls below changes with every set-back and includes story-high basket-weave designs, radiator-cap gargoyles, and a band of abstract automobiles. The lobby is a modernistic composition of African marble and chrome steel."

— Elliot Willensky and Norval White. AIA Guide to New York City. p121.


Client: William P. Chrysler, the automotive magnate.

77 stories or floors.The height to the top of its spire is 1048 feet.


405 Lexington Avenue (between 42nd and 43rd streets)
New York, New York

Sources on Chrysler Building

Howard Davis. Slides from photographer's collection. PCD.2260.1012.1702.052. PCD.2260.1012.1702.051.

Judith Dupre. Skyscrapers. Black Dog and Leventhal, June, 1996. ISBN 1-8848-2245-2. — A fun and informative gift book in skyscraper format, 18" tall and 7.5" wide, with perfect pictures and key information on tallest buildings over the decades, up to the 1998 Petronas Towers. Available at

Peter Gossel and Gabriele Leuthauser. Architecture in the Twentieth Century. Germany: Benedikt Taschen Verlag, 1991. ISBN 3-8228-0550-5. exterior photo, p208. discussion p209.

Lawrence A. Martin, University of Oregon. Slide from photographer's collection, September 1993. PCD.3235.1012.0545.064. PCD.3235.1012.0545.065.

Toshino Nakamura, ed. "Chrysler Building, 1930", A+U Extra Edition. April 1987. p97. drawing of ground floor plan, p98. drawing of floors 6-10 plans, p98. drawing of floors 51 through 55 plans, p98. drawing of exterior wall detail, p99. drawing of entry detail, p101.

Toshino Nakamura, ed. "New York Art Deco Skyscrapers", A+U Extra Edition. April 1987. p5. color drawing of exterior perspective, p7. top center drawing on page [MW]

John Julius Norwich, ed. The World Atlas of Architecture. New York: Portland House, 1988. ISBN 0-517-66875-0. discussion p366. Reprint edition: Da Capo Press, April 1991. ISBN 0-3068-0436-0. — An accessible, inspiring and informative overview of world architecture, with lots of full-color cutaway drawings, and clear explanations. Available at

Natalie Shivers. Chrysler Building. Princeton Architectural Press, 1999. ISBN 1-8782-7124-5. — Reserve one at

Marcus Whiffen and Frederick Koeper. American Architecture, Volume 2. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1984. exterior photo of top, f 263, p 327. — An excellent survey of American architecture. Reprint Edition available at

Elliot Willensky and Norval White. AIA Guide to New York City. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1988. ISBN 0-15-104040-0. NA 735.N5A78. discussion and details, p121. — Sadly out of print, but you can still request a search at

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at  Find books about Chrysler Building


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