Elevator cabs reminiscent of chrome-accented automobiles from the 1920s, a sunburst-patterned stainless steel rooftop spire, and fearsome gargoyles are three of the features that make the iconic Chrysler Building one of the most photographed office buildings in the world. Throughout its nearly 90-year history the Art Deco property has had starring roles in major motion pictures including Kramer vs. Kramer, Hannah and Her Sisters, and the 1940s film noir cult classic Kiss of Death.
The Chrysler Building was constructed by Walter Chrysler, head of the Chrysler Corporation, and was the company’s headquarters from 1930 through the mid-1950s. When the building opened its doors in May 1930 there were mixed reviews of the Chrysler Building from the business community and public at large – ranging from inane and unimaginative to strikingly modernist.
Over the years the property has won its critics over and is now widely viewed as a prime example of the Art Deco style of architecture. In 2007 the Chrysler Building was ranked #9 in the American Institute of Architects List of America’s Favorite Architecture.
Located in the rapidly growing Turtle Bay office submarket the Chrysler Building is the 6th tallest building in New York City, the 13th tallest in North America, and the 90th tallest office building in the world. For almost a year the Chrysler Building was the tallest in the world, only to be surpassed in height by the Empire State Building 11 months later.
The building’s prime location next to Grand Central Terminal in Midtown Manhattan helped to attract original tenants such as the Chrysler Corporation, Time, Inc., and Texaco Oil. Today the Chrysler Building is home to A-list tenants including Creative Artists Agency, Regus, Kimco Realty, Northstar Group, and Arena Capital Partners.
Although the Chrysler Building is nearing the century mark, the property holds a LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for its environmental sustainability and energy efficiency. Between 2010 and 2011 the building underwent significant renovations to its energy, plumbing, and waste management systems. This updating decreased the Chrysler Building’s total energy consumption by 21% and decreased its water consumption by 64%, with about 81% of its waste being recycled.
This landmark Manhattan office building is unique in a variety of other ways. Here are ten interesting facts and fascinating things you may not know about the Chrysler Building:
- Although the tower was built for the Chrysler Corporation, Walter Chrysler paid for and owned the building himself, so that his children could inherit it.
- While the Abu Dhabi Investment Council owns 90% of the property, it doesn’t control the property – Tishman Speyer does, thanks to its 150-year land lease with Cooper Union, which owns the land underneath the Chrysler Building.
- It is the world’s tallest brick building and has 3,862 exterior windows.
- The 31st floor contains gargoyles and replicas of a radiator cap from a 1929 Chrysler.
- The 61st floor is home to eagles, in recognition of the country’s national bird.
- A members-only club and speakeasy used to be near the top of the Chrysler Building.
- The first two floors of the building’s lobby were once used for an automobile showroom.
- Walter P. Chrysler and LIFE Magazine photographer Margaret Bourke-White both had the only two apartments in the building.
- Bourke-White’s lease had to be co-signed by her employer because at the time the building wouldn’t rent to women.
- The observation deck on the 71st floor was closed down in 1945, making the Chrysler Building one of the few trophy office buildings in New York that doesn’t offer panoramic views to the general public.