Personally, I feel like one of the most underrated buildings in the New York City skyline is the Chrysler Building.
The gorgeous Art Deco building was, at one point, the tallest in the world and is still a beloved skyscraper in the Big Apple.
Do you know the history behind it?
In the late 1920s and early 1930s, skyscrapers were becoming a really exciting part of New York City’s atmosphere. They were a symbol of money and power, and two men in particular were determined to build the tallest one in the city back then.
One of them was William Van Alen, who was hired by Walter P. Chrysler, founder of Chrysler Corporation, in 1928 to create the world’s tallest building in his name. Walter wanted the building to be made as a “monument” to him.
Meanwhile, William’s former friend and business partner, H. Craig Severance, was working on the Manhattan Company Building. At the time, the Woolworth Building was considered the tallest in the city, and both William and H. Craig wanted to take over that title.
Thus began what some call the “race to the sky” and an infamous battle between the two architects to try and create the tallest building. Throughout the building process of both buildings, whenever reports would come in on the Chrysler Building’s height, H. Craig would strive to beat it by making his building even taller, and vice versa.
However, the infamous Art Deco stainless steel spire designed by William, which weighs 27 tons, increased the Chrysler Building’s height to 1,046 feet. When the building was completed in 1930, it beat H. Craig’s Manhattan Company Building in height and became the tallest building in the world that year.
Interestingly, the Chrysler Building did not hold that title for very long, as the city’s obsession with skyscrapers continued. Plans for the legendary Empire State Building were announced just one year later, and in 1931, the massive skyscraper took over as the city’s and world’s tallest building.