Automobile-inspired, Art Deco decadence, the Chrysler building is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world and was designed by William Van Alen. Built in 1930, it was the headquarters for the Chrysler company until the 1950s, but was paid for privately by Walter P. Chrysler, so that his children may inherit it rather than the stockholders.
It has influenced writers and artists alike, such as Ayn Rand’s epic novel “The Fountainhead”, a tale of architectural purist Howard Roark, and artists such as Matthew Barney, whose Cremaster 3 (the entire exhibition was shown at the Guggenheim in 2003) is a mythical tale of the construction of the Chrysler Building, who is also a character in the film. It also stars artist Richard Serra who plays allegorical Freemason Hiram Abiff.
With gleaming polished nickel, there are elements on the building that echo the 1926 Chrysler, in addition to gargoyles and eagles. It is one of the sites in New York that by simply looking at it, I’m transported to the cinematic New York of the 1940s- to me it evokes glamour, supper clubs, pillbox hats, and the time when capitalism meant moving forward and not greed.
The gorgeous Art Deco lobby is open to the public.
What: The Chrysler Building
Where: 405 Lexington Avenue