A Midtown beauty

Gerry wanted do a print of one of the classic New York skyscrapers and had already decided that the Chrysler building was the one. After a couple of days of walking around central Manhattan, taking snaps of other famous buildings, he'd made up his mind. Nothing says New York quite like the Chrysler building.

The Chrysler building

The Chrysler building is a great example of great Art Deco architecture in New York. It can be found on the east side of Manhattan, between 42nd street and Lexington Avenue.

Like many other skyscrapers in Manhattan the Chrysler building could for a short while call itself the tallest building in the world. Although in this case it was only for a blink of an eye - in skyscraper terms - in 1931, 11 months after it was built, it was surpassed by the Empire State Building. It's however still the tallest brick building in the world. And it's also considered to be one of the finest buildings in New York and was ranked ninth on the list of America's favourite architecture by the American Institute of Architects (take that Empire State).

The building was the headquarters of the Chrysler corporation from 1930 to the mid 1950s.


A race to build the tallest skyscraper

The Chrysler building was designed by William Van Alen who wanted it to have a decorative jewel-like glass crown. The building's gargoyles were modelled after Chrysler automobile products. It was all meant to be an example of the machine age.

During the time when it was built architects and industry magnates in Manhattan were competing to see who could build the tallest building in the world. To beat the competition the architect Van Alen got permission for a 38 meter tall spire and had it secretly constructed inside the building. It was finally placed on top of the building in 1929, a job which took only 90 minutes, to make the Chrysler the tallest building in the world. Unfortunately for Van Alen the Empire State Building was completed not long after.

Although Van Alen did have reason to be proud when the building was completed in May 20 1930. The Chrysler building was the first man-made structure to stand taller than 1000 feet (305 meters). And around 3,826,000 bricks were manually laid as the skyscraper was being built.

But when the building was finished car industry magnate Walter Chrysler refused to pay the balance of the architectural fee, which might have pissed on Van Alen's chips slightly (as the Scots say).

The Chrysler building has changed hands many days since and today about 90 percent of the building is owned by the Abu Dhabi Investment Council.

Our illustration

The original photos for the Chrysler illustration were taken on the crossing between 41 Street East and Lexington Avenue.

In this print Gerry wanted to capture the madness of New York, the traffic and the flow of people in central Manhattan. The iconic New York taxi is one of the stars of this print. But the main guy is of course the Chrysler Building itself.