405 Lexington Avenue
(between 42nd and 43rd streets)
The Chrysler Building was designed by William Van Alen for automaker Walter P. Chrysler. The 77-story, 1,048-foot building contains 29,961 tons of steel, 3,826,000 bricks, and almost 5000 windows. The building cost 20 million dollars to build. (ref)
The landmarked building is, perhaps, the quintessential Art Deco skyscraper. The distinctive ornamentation of the building was meant to echo the styling of Chrysler automobiles, with the 61st floor eagles replicating hood ornaments and 31st floor corner ornaments resembling radiator caps. Although the cladding is primarily masonry, the building is most distinguished by it's stainless-steel crown composed of seven radiating terraced arches.
Construction began on September 19, 1928 and was completed on May 28, 1930. Perhaps the most dramatic moment in the construction occurred on October 23, 1929 when the secretly-built 185-foot spire was hoisted into place in 90 minutes in order to snatch the title of world's tallest building from H. Craig Severence's 40 Wall Street project that was then under construction. The victory was short-lived as the Empire State Building (which began construction two months later only a few blocks away) claimed that title upon its official opened on May 1, 1931.