We all know Chrysler's facing some rough times, but let's turn back the clock to 1930 and talk about the biggest Chrysler ever built.
Chrysler Corporation was growing and in desperate need for — something — to represent its achievements. What better place to shine than New York City. Designed by architect, William Van Alen, the Chrysler Building was meant to be the crown jewel of the New York City skyline and as such, was conceived using the very popular art deco design motif that dominated the era.
The proposal that Van Alen sent to building contractor, William H. Reynolds, consisted of a base fit with triple height showroom windows topped with twelve stories of glass-wrapped corners giving the visual impression that the building was floating on air. The top of the tower had a decorative jewel-like glass crown that would reach the clouds at 807 ft., though this design was thrown out for being too costly and too advanced for Reynolds, who in turn, sent Van Alen back to the drawing board.
After much revision to the original, the design and lease was then sold to Walter P. Chrysler who worked hand in hand with Van Alen to recreate his vision. They both settled upon a final design that included additional stories and a 925 ft. height; much taller than what was originally planned. With Walter P. Chrysler at the helm, he instructed Van Alen to incorporate various automotive cues to the building's architectural details.
Ground broke for the construction of the Chrysler Building on September 19, 1928 in the middle of a frantic race to build the world's tallest skyscraper. Its estimated that roughly 3,826,000 bricks and 400,000 rivets were manually put in place during construction of what was soon to be the world's tallest building. That distinction didn't last long as a rival project at 40 Wall Street designed by rival architect, H. Craig Severance, was granted approval for an increase in height and was able to then claim the title for world's tallest building. Van Alen was not pleased and subsequently gained permission from the city of New York to place a 185-ft tall spire on top of the building. The spire was constructed inside the frame of the building and was the secret weapon that Van Alen needed to re-claim the world's tallest building title.
On May 28, 1930, the Chrysler Building was completed and with the additional height of the rooftop spire it was able to surpass the rival project on 40 Wall Street to claim the world's tallest building title. It was the first man-made structure to reach higher than 1,000 feet, even surpassing the Eiffel Tower which had previously held the title as tallest structure.
Van Alen's creation is considered to be a masterpiece of Art Deco design and architecture featuring automotive themes such as gargoyles that were inspired by the strong, identifiable hood ornaments of a Plymouth, 1929 Chrysler radiator cap-inspired corner ornamentation on the 31st floor and 1929 Chrysler hood ornament-inspired eagles on the 61st floor. The Chrysler Building was created using roughly 400,000 rivets, 3,826,000 bricks, 3,862 windows and four banks of eight Otis Elevator Corporation elevators.
The Chrysler Building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976 and stands proudly at 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue in downtown New York City to this day. [historical fact via destination360, image via wikimedia]