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WILLIAM VAN ALEN [1883–1954]. The Chrysler Building, 1926–1930. William Van Alen. The Chrysler Building could only have been constructed in the competitive climate of Manhattan in the 1920s.

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William van alen 1883 1954

WILLIAM VAN ALEN [1883–1954]

The Chrysler Building, 1926–1930





Walter p chrysler
Walter P. Chrysler the automotive industry, entered his bid in the unofficial competition to build the tallest structure in New York City.


Walter p chrysler times man of the year 1928
Walter P. Chrysler the automotive industry, entered his bid in the unofficial competition to build the tallest structure in New York City.Times' Man of the Year 1928







Art deco defined
Art Deco Defined become the world's tallest structure.

  • or deco, is an eclectic artistic and design style that began in Paris in the 1920s and flourished internationally throughout the 1930s and into the World War II era.

  • At its best, art deco represented elegance, glamour, functionality and modernity. Art deco's linear symmetry was a distinct departure from the flowing asymmetrical organic curves of its predecessor style art nouveau; it embraced influences from many different styles of the early twentieth century, including neoclassical, constructivism, cubism, modernism and futurism and drew inspiration from ancient Egyptian and Aztec forms. Although many design movements have political or philosophical beginnings or intentions, art deco was purely decorative.


  • The skyscraper no longer imitated gothic architecture (more common in Downtown Manhattan), but incorporated a current architecture style appropriate for its time of design and construction.

  • As if mocking the ancient gothic style of other skyscrapers, the Chrysler Building incorporates gargoyles and decorative top that ends in a spire reaching towards the sky.
















Chrysler Building, Entry Way Details  skyscraper, the interior was designed to recall the distant past, and positions the Chrysler Building among the wonders of the world.



Elevator doors
Elevator Doors elevator doors, adorned in brass and marquetry (decorative inlays on a wood base) with the lotus flower motif.


Inside a chrysler building elevator looking up
Inside a Chrysler Building elevator, looking up elevator doors, adorned in brass and marquetry (decorative inlays on a wood base) with the lotus flower motif.




Art deco painted ceilings
Art Deco Painted Ceilings display a range of ancient Egyptian motifs intended to suggest the building’s association with the great pyramids of the pharaohs.





  • Not to be outdone, Van Alen had his workers secretly assemble a twenty-seven-ton steel tip, or vertex, which was hoisted at the last minute to the top of the building as a magnificent surprise to the city.

  • With that, the Chrysler not only exceeded the height of its Wall Street competition, but surpassed even the Eiffel Tower in Paris.







Essay question 1
Essay Question 1 further added to his woes.

  • How is this building like an automobile?

  • What artistic style is the Chrysler Building attributed?


Essay question 2
Essay Question 2 further added to his woes.

  • Why did corporations and architects race to build tall skyscrapers in the 1920s?

  • Why was the spire was added to the top?


Essay question 3
Essay Question 3 further added to his woes.

  • What happened in 1929 to halt this building spree?


Essay question 4
Essay Question 4 further added to his woes.

  • New York City building codes required that tall buildings such as this step back their upper stories.

  • What were the benefits of making tall buildings smaller near the top?


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