Today Michael Wyetzner of Michielli + Wyetzner Architects returns to Architectural Digest for a deep, detail-oriented break down of New York City’s singular Chrysler Building. From its unmistakable Art Deco design to the hidden details that echo its automotive inspiration, see why the Chrysler Building is an iconic staple of the Manhattan skyline.
The story of the Chrysler Building began in 1928, when automotive titan Walter P. Chrysler, founder of Chrysler Corporation, bought the property from Coney Island developer William H. Reynolds for $2 million. Chrysler hired architect William Van Alen, who had previously designed a skyscraper for Reynolds on the site, to create the world’s tallest tower. Construction on Chrysler’s project began in 1929 and was completed in 1930. Reaching a height of 1,048 feet, including its 125-foot steel spire, the Chrysler Building surpassed the Woolworth Building and 40 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan in a “Race to the Sky” to claim the tallest building in the world–a title it held until 1931. The Chrysler Building still reigns as the world’s most famous skyscraper, playing prominent roles in film and television from Godzilla and Spider-Man to Sex and the City.