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Chrysler Building
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Vital Statistics:
Location: New York, New York, USA
Completion Date: 1930
Cost: $20 million
Height: 1,046 feet
Stories: 77
Materials: Steel
Facing Materials: Brick
Engineer(s): Ralph Squire & Sons

In the summer of 1929, a "race for the sky" broke out on the island of Manhattan. Automobile tycoon Walter Chrysler battled Wall Street powerhouse Bank of Manhattan Trust Company for the title of world's tallest building in what many historians consider to be the most intense race in skyscraper history. In the spring of 1930, just when it appeared that the bank might capture the coveted title, a small crew jacked a needle-thin spire hidden in Chrysler's building through the top of the crown to claim the title of world's tallest at 1,046 feet.

Chrysler Building
Click photo
for larger image.

Not only was the Chrysler Building the world's tallest structure, it was also one of the most decorated office buildings in the world. Chrysler wanted "a bold structure, declaring the glories of the modern age" -- and he got it. He decorated his skyscraper with hubcaps, mudguards, and hood ornaments, just like his cars, hoping that such a distinctive building would make his car company a household name. Today, the Chrysler Building is recognized as New York City's greatest display of Art Deco, a decorative style characterized by sharp angular or zigzag surface forms and ornaments.

Only four months after the completion of the Chrysler Building, the world's tallest championship title would be claimed by a new structure, the Empire State Building.


Here's how this skyscraper stacks up against the biggest skyscrapers in the world.
(height, in feet)

Chart showing the relative size of the biggest skyscrapers in the world Chrysler Building
1,046'

Fast Facts:
  • More than 750 miles of electrical conductor wire was used in the construction of the skyscraper. That's as long as the distance from New York City to Chicago!
  • 20,961 tons of structural steel; 391,881 rivets; 3,826,000 bricks; 10,000 light bulbs; and 3,862 windows are in the Chrysler Building.
  • Walter Chrysler never paid architect William Van Alen for his work on the Chrysler Building because he believed Van Alen was involved in some suspicious financial arrangements with the building's contractors.

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